UALR alum receives prestigious National Science Foundation fellowship

Jermaine Marshall

Thanks to a prestigious National Science Foundation fellowship, University of Arkansas at Little Rock alumnus Jermaine Marshall will no longer have to work as a teaching assistant to support himself as a first-year doctoral student in Notre Dame’s computer science program.

Instead, he will be able to devote more time to his research involving the analysis of data from social networking websites.

Marshall, 23, of Helena, Arkansas, has been named a 2016 recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He graduated from UALR in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

For 2016, the National Science Foundation awarded 2,000 fellowships from nearly 17,000 applicants. The fellowship provides three years of financial support through a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the student’s graduate institution.

“It just lit up my whole day,” Marshall said. “They only have an 11 percent acceptance rate. I didn’t think I would get it, but it happened.”

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship 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.

Marshall’s current research involves social sensing, which uses the massive amount of information people share through social networking websites as research data to discover trends and influences. However, the information people share on social media is not always accurate. Marshall is developing a program that will detect when this information is accurate.

People may lie or report false information on social media,” Marshall said. “My goal is to develop a framework to tell when people are reporting truthful information on social media and determine how that information can be useful to society through research.”

In 2015, Marshall was named a National GEM (Graduate Engineering Degrees for Minorities) Ph.D. Science Fellow.

The GEM Fellowship greatly increased Marshall’s chances of acceptance into distinguished Ph.D. programs. He also received a paid summer internship with Adobe, a global leader in digital marketing and media.

Among his many distinctions at UALR, Marshall was a McNair Scholar, a Donaghey Scholar, an African American Male Initiative Program member, an Engineering and Information Technology Ambassador, a former EIT Summer Undergraduate Program of Entrepreneurship and Research Scholar, a member of the Dean’s List, and an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Kappa Psi Chapter.

“The Donaghey Scholars and McNair Scholars programs helped me pursue research and taught me how to get involved with it,” he said. “They helped me get to the point where I could do research, apply to graduate school, and get accepted into a prestigious program. They really helped me prepare for my future.”

Marshall thanked the African American Male Initiative and Alpha Phi Alpha for giving him the support he needed to complete his degree.

“They helped give me the motivation and support to pursue my dreams,” he said.

This summer, Marshall will be a software engineering intern at Intel. After his anticipated graduation from Notre Dame in 2019, Marshall plans to continue his research into social networking websites at a research lab and eventually open his own social networking company.

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