Carl Stenoien ’11 Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Posted on April 10th, 2012 by

Carl Stenoien '11

Carl Stenoien, a 2011 alumnus of Gustavus Adolphus College, is the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. The award will provide Stenoien with three years of support including a $30,000 annual stipend, a $12,000 annual education allowance for tuition and fees, international research and professional development opportunities, and TeraGrid Supercomputer access. Stenoien is a native of Underwood, Minn., who earned his bachelor’s degree from Gustavus with a major in biology and a minor in neuroscience.

“Carl excelled in biology because he loved the subject and completely immersed himself in ideas, the literature, and labs. At Gustavus he has gained an interdisciplinary foundation and his liberal arts education will allow him to make the innovative connections necessary to continue his career in the sciences,” said Gustavus Professor of Biology Pam Kittelson. “Carl took advantage of many of our excellent opportunities to pursue scientific research and our department hired him to serve as a teaching assistant for three courses. His ability to tutor peers across a range of subjects was a testament to his knowledge and people skills.”

Following graduation last spring, Stenoien began a six month term with Conservation Corps MN – an Americorps program dedicated to natural resource management and energy conservation.

“My crew did projects ranging from invasive species management in the Badlands to lakeshore restorations in central Minnesota to prairie restorations, trail building, native seed collecting, and everything in between,” Stenoien said.

Stenoien will soon be a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program at the University of Minnesota. He wrote his NSF Graduate Research Fellowship proposal on research involving a specific parasitoid wasp of monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs eat milkweed and are toxic to most predators as a result. The parasitoid wasps in question have been released as agricultural biocontrol to help reduce populations of certain pest moths and butterflies,” Stenoien said. “Recently, instances of infection by this wasp have been observed, which raises questions of how the wasps are evading the monarch defense, the prevalence of the infections, and ultimate effects on monarch populations.”

Stenoien placed third in the MIAC in the decathlon last spring.

While at Gustavus, Stenoien participated in the Mayo Innovations Scholars Program and spent a significant amount of time conducting independent research and projects through the biology department.  He was also a four-year member of the men’s track and field team, where he competed in the decathlon, pole vault, and other jumping events.

“I have no doubt that my participation in athletics at Gustavus has had an effect on my work ethic, goal setting, and outlook on life,” Stenoien said. “There are also many people at Gustavus who helped me get to where I am today. I am thankful for Margaret Bloch-Qazi for planting the seed that I could be a scientist in my head; to Pam Kittleson for encouraging me to apply for summer research programs; to Jon Grinnell for opportunities to begin developing my teaching skills; to Mike Ferragamo for being an inspiring mad scientist; and to my track coaches, captains, teammates, and friends.”

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is the country’s oldest graduate fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in various STEM fields. Since 1952, NSF has funded more than 46,500 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. More than 30 of them have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 440 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

If you are a Gustavus student interested in pursuing a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, contact Associate Professor of Political Science and Gustavus Fellowship Coordinator Alisa Rosenthal at


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin



  1. The Meatballs says:

    Smart and a man of great character. We’re big fans on Carl Stenoien! Congratulations to another standout Gustie!

  2. Upasiri Samaraweera says:

    Congratulations Carl. We are proud of you.


  3. Mayra Taylor says:

    Muchas felicitaciones Carl, un Gustie ejemplar.