Auburn University student receives National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Patrick SmythAUBURN – Patrick Smyth, a senior in mechanical engineering in Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship provides three years of support at $30,000 annually and an additional $10,500 cost of education allowance. The purpose of this fellowship program is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States.

“I am honored to receive an NSF Graduate Fellowship, and think it is a reflection of the quality of the education that I received at Auburn and the many opportunities that I was offered here,” Smyth said. “I am looking forward to using the fellowship to build on the undergraduate foundation I started at Auburn.”

Smyth is a member of the University Honors College with a 4.0 grade point average. His undergraduate research is a joint venture between the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the College of Veterinary Medicine. As a competitive undergraduate research fellow, Smyth works in Robert Jackson’s Multiscale Tribology Laboratory as he seeks to characterize and compare the surface roughness profiles of cartilage located within various joints of the equine limb.

The ultimate goal of his research will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling the performance of healthy joints in horses and humans. His research holds promise for millions of people suffering from debilitative joint loss.

“Patrick’s intellect and perseverance have already launched the project to heights beyond that attained in typical graduate level research projects, and the findings will be presented at conferences and published,” said Jackson. “He has already left a lasting legacy at Auburn University by helping to build this multidisciplinary bridge between engineering and the sciences based on bio-tribology research.”

Outside the classroom and lab, Smyth serves as the Honors College representative to the Committee of 19, a student organization leading the war on hunger both on Auburn’s campus and on a global level.

Smyth will graduate in May and plans to study mechanical engineering with an emphasis in tribology at Georgia Tech in the fall.

“It was a pleasure assisting Patrick on his NSF application,” said Paul Harris, associate director of the Honors College. “His ability to perform at the highest level in a very demanding major; his skill in pairing the principles of mechanical engineering and veterinary science; his commitment to improving the conditions of those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition as the Honors College representative to the Committee of 19; and his humble and unassuming nature embody the belief statements found in the Auburn Creed.”

(Written by Margaret Ann Killam.)

Contact: Paul Harris, (334) 844-8731(, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (