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Hendrix College Alumna Receives National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

KatherineParham_5475.jpgCONWAY, Ark. (April 22, 2021) – Hendrix College Class of 2019 graduate Katherine Parham has received an award from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) for 2021.

Parham, a native of Alma, Arkansas, is now working toward a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Duke University. Her current research involves studying pions that are created from matter-antimatter annihilation at the Belle II detector in Japan.

“There was never any question in my mind that Katherine would go on to accomplish great things,” said Dr. Damon Spayde, a professor and chair of the Department of Physics at Hendrix. “It was clear from her work in the classroom and the lab that she possesses the skill set to excel as a research scientist: an inquisitive, detail-oriented mind; a willingness to work hard; the ability to think independently; and a passion for the field of study. Katherine is well deserving of this very prestigious award.”

“My research allows physicists to better understand protons,” Parham said, adding that her very first research project as a Hendrix student helped build the skills she now uses regularly. “For my first research project, I worked with Dr. Spayde and built a model database for the MOLLER experiment in ROOT, a coding language created for the Large Hadron Collider. Now that I am studying nuclear physics at Duke, I use ROOT almost every day.”

Parham credits her undergraduate experience at Hendrix for giving her opportunities to grow in confidence and curiosity.  “Physics can often be an intimidating field, but I found the Physics Department at Hendrix to be an incredibly welcoming and supportive community,” she said. “I loved the format of the workshop physics courses at Hendrix. It encouraged me to be comfortable not knowing all of the answers before an experiment and to view mistakes as valuable learning opportunities—two very important skills for an experimental physicist.”

Launched in 1952, the GRFP is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind. It supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing Ph.D.s or research-based master’s degrees. Fellows receive a three-year stipend, coverage of tuition and fees, and opportunities for international research and professional development.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit