The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


Jonsson School Alum Earns NSF Graduate Fellowship

Jonsson School Alum Earns NSF Graduate Fellowship

Anja Sheppard

Anja Sheppard BS’22

Seven University of Texas at Dallas students and alumni have been selected for the 2022 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The highly competitive national program provides a stipend and tuition support for students pursuing graduate studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It’s a signal that these are high-quality students who are ready to go places,” said Dr. Juan González, vice provost for global engagement, dean of graduate education and holder of the Francis S. Johnson Chair for Graduate Education. “They have ideas and are ready to hit the ground running.”

González, who previously has served as an evaluator for the program, said the program’s selection process is rigorous.

“The evaluators discuss every detail about the students, covering their strengths and potential,” he said.

Anja Sheppard, who earned a computer science degree in May, hopes to use her research skills eventually at NASA. She has interned for the agency’s Johnson Space Center for the past year and a half.

“I am very interested in continuing to work for NASA as a research scientist or a mission scientist,” she said. “I would love to be able to apply my robotics expertise to a project that actually gets sent out into space.”

Sheppard has been involved in research since she was in high school. As a UTD freshman, Sheppard joined the Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics and Systems in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

The North Carolina native, who graduated summa cum laude and with Collegium V honors, is a National Merit Scholar, Eugene McDermott Scholar and Goldwater Scholar. She said that receiving the NSF fellowship reflected her investment in research, internships and mentorships during her undergraduate years.

“It grants you a certain level of recognition that you have accomplished research and you will be committing many years to doing research in the future,” she said.

Sheppard will attend the University of Michigan to pursue a doctorate in robotics.

A version of this article appeared in News Center.