For release: June 14, 2010
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843
Jill Williamson, chemistry graduate student and member of the Mobile Analytical Monitoring
and Miniaturization Laboratory, has received the NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Pre-doctoral
Fellowship from NASA and the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation.
The fellowship provides up to three years of funding and support for full-time graduate
students who are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
(STEM) disciplines. Williamson will receive $28,000 in stipend and tuition plus $10,000
in assistance for each year of the award.
This fellowship will support Williamson’s research, which focuses on developing an
online, fully automated system that monitors water disinfectant silver (I) ion concentrations.
This system will incorporate “sensor-on-a-valve” technologies to allow hands-free
analysis to mission specialists aboard the International Space Station for future
“Jill’s award is an outstanding achievement that speaks to the high quality of her
background and her research area,” said Dr. Gary Emmert, associate professor and graduate
coordinator in the Department of Chemistry. “She is one of only 20 graduate students
in the nation to be awarded this fellowship. Not only will this award support Jill
and her research, which has close ties to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, but
it also creates additional opportunities for other students in her research group.
Jill has demonstrated that she is a true leader in our department and our research
group. I am very proud that she is one of my students and that she chose the University
of Memphis Chemistry Department to pursue her Ph.D.”
Williamson, who is from Ferguson, Mo., earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (with
American Chemical Society accreditation) from the University of Central Missouri.
Her parents are John F. Williamson Jr. and the late Janis K. Williamson.
“I had opportunities to pursue my education elsewhere,” Williamson said, “but I am
confident I made the right decision in selecting the University of Memphis for my
graduate career. Under the exceptional guidance of Dr. Emmert, my vision in becoming
a member of the NASA team has become more clear. The Harriet G. Jenkins Fellowship
Award marks the beginning of my future collaborations with NASA. I feel privileged
to accept this opportunity to reach out to my community and to emphasize the importance
of following your dreams and continuing the pursuit of knowledge within the sciences.”
The award’s namesake, Dr. Harriett G. Jenkins, has been an innovative and effective
change agent throughout her life. For more than 18 years she was assistant administrator
for equal opportunity programs at NASA. In that role she managed exemplary programs
and strategies that garnered management commitment and involvement. These programs
ranged from the hiring and advancement of minorities, women, and individuals with
disabilities within the agency, to the settlement of allegations of discrimination.