Student Selected for NSF Fellowship and Department of Defense Fellowship

Julia Loshelder
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Julia Loshelder

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Julia Loshelder, a University of Arkansas senior honors civil engineering major, has been named a 2020 Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow and a 2020 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program Fellow.

The Department of Defense awards the highly competitive scholarship to students planning to pursue a Ph.D. in areas of military importance. Both awards include three years full tuition and fees as well as funds for various academic expenditures. 

Loshelder, who graduated this spring, will continue her education at the U of A, seeking a Ph.D. in civil engineering to pursue a career in an academic setting. She has chosen to accept the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

“It is an honor to be selected for such prestigious national awards,” Loshelder said. “I know that the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship will allow me to pursue my passion for geotechnical engineering research as I earn a doctoral degree in civil engineering. I am forever grateful for the undergraduate research experiences that I have had both at the University of Arkansas and through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of California, Davis. I am looking forward to continued collaboration with researchers in my field.”

During her time at the university, Loshelder has participated in several research projects both on and off campus. She most recently conducted research with Richard Coffman, associate professor of civil engineering, in his soils laboratory. Her research focused on methods to determine the moisture content of soil through remote sensing, which was the basis of her honors thesis. This work was supported by funding from an Honors College Research Grant.

“It has been a pleasure to have Julia in my laboratory group,” Coffman said. “She was an exceptional undergraduate student and will make a fantastic graduate student. I look forward to continuing to work with her as she pursues her Ph.D.” 

In the summer of 2019, Loshelder was one of only five students chosen for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of California, Davis. At this biogeotechnical experience, she evaluated the use of 3-D printed soil probes in a series of tests, comparing newly created probes with a variety of ridge types (each inspired by a honey bee stinger, go into the soil easily but resist coming out) to one another and to traditional smooth probes. She presented her research at the end of the program.

To gain industrial experience, Loshelder interned with the Texas Department of Transportation during the summer of 2018. She first worked in the laboratory, conducting soil and asphalt testing where she was introduced to the testing that she later used in her research on campus. Loshelder later worked at a bridge construction and a highway expansion site. 

“Julia Loshelder is an exceptional engineering student who has earned the admiration and support of faculty and scholarship foundations at the national level,” said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. “It is no surprise to us that she has received both awards. She has made an indelible mark on our campus and our college. She was named the Outstanding Junior in the Civil Engineering Department last year, the Walter Lafevre Outstanding Senior in the Civil Engineering Department this year, and graduated summa cum laude this spring. She has distinguished herself not only academically but also as a member of our community. As the president of the campus chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers and in her involvement in the Society of Women Engineers, she engaged a wide range of audiences in what it means to be an engineer. We are delighted that she has accepted the NSF GRFP and that we will have her in our college for a few more years as a graduate student.” 

University of Arkansas students interested in applying for prestigious awards like the NSF GRFP or the DOD NDSEG should contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Suzanne McCray, Vice Provost for Enrollment
Director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards


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