LSU Chemistry Student and Alum Awarded Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

May 02, 2024

BATON ROUGE, LA - LSU Department of Chemistry graduate student Estefania Armendariz-Gonzalez and alumna Macallister Davis were named National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, or NSF GRFP, award recipients for 2024.

The five-year fellowship program provides three years of financial support for the graduate education of students who have demonstrated potential for significant achievements in the STEM disciplines, and offers them access to professional development opportunities. 


Estefania Armendariz-Gonzalez

LSU Chemistry Graduate Student Estefania Armendariz-Gonzalez

Estefania Armendariz-Gonzalez

Born in Baja California, Mexico, and raised in Brandon, Mississippi, Estefania Armendariz-Gonzalez’s interest in chemistry was sparked by faculty during her early undergraduate years at Hinds Community College-Rankin and Mississippi State University, or MSU. 

“I decided to pursue chemistry after taking general chemistry with Ms. Amanda Blair at Hinds Community College-Rankin, and this interest continued at MSU in my organic chemistry course with Professor Xin Cui,” Armendariz stated. “I enjoyed both classes as they challenged me mentally but were also fun at the same time.

During her undergraduate studies, Armendariz conducted research in organic synthesis, working with Professor Cui at MSU and Professor Matthew Donahue at the University of Southern Mississippi, or USM. During her summer research experience at USM, Armendariz developed twelve new compounds through an aza-Prins Ritter cyclization method, solidifying her love for research. 

During her senior year at MSU, Armendariz continued conducting research, contributing to the development of iron-catalyzed amidomethylative tandem reactions of alkenes, building a solid foundation for her future research endeavors.

“ I enjoyed learning the techniques to do wet chemistry, and after the program, I couldn’t think of anything better than doing research for the rest of my life, which is still true now. ”

 Armendariz graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from MSU in 2022 and set her sights on a Ph.D.

“I chose LSU as it is one of the best universities in the Southeastern Region,” Armendariz stated. “After attending the recruiting event and meeting with a few organic chemistry professors, I already had an idea about who I wanted to work with, Professor Rendy Kartika.”

At LSU in the laboratory of Professor Kartika, Armendariz’s research focuses on developing new organic reactions under catalytic conditions, specifically targeting the synthesis of complex small molecules that incorporate indole rings, a biologically important heterocycle that can be found in tryptophan and serotonin. Armendariz hopes to create a library of diverse molecular architectures, which can be subjected to drug discovery processes.

Looking ahead, Armendariz hopes to apply her training to research and development within the pharmaceutical industry as a research and development scientist, contributing to groundbreaking medical advancements.



Macallister Davis

LSU Chemistry Alumna Macallister Davis

Macallister Davis

Raised in a home where chemistry experiments and discussions were the norm, Macallister Davis was initially drawn to biochemistry because of a fascination with the chemistry in biological systems. 

However, after being persuaded by then LSU Chemistry undergraduate studies director, Dr. Linda Allen, Macallister shifted focus to a major in chemistry with a concentration in biological chemistry before starting college in the fall of 2019.

As an LSU MARC Scholar, Davis conducted undergraduate research in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Víctor García-López, which focuses on synthesizing artificial molecular machines that have proven to be great aids in ion transport and exhibit potential behavior as modes for drug delivery. 

“In Dr. Garcia’s lab, I had an enormous amount of support from everyone, including my mentor Udyogi, which has even continued into my graduate experience,” Davis said. “Their patience and the time they all invested in me during my undergraduate career allowed me the space to grow and fall in love with research.” 

Davis earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in May 2023 as a Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher. Her undergraduate research experience led Davis to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Rice University, joining the laboratory of Assistant Professor Samantha Yruegas

At Rice, Davis is exploring the use of biocompatible metals, such as calcium, for C-F bond activation to utilize the new molecules for defluorination processes, especially those pertaining to the degradation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

“ With this fellowship, I will be able to dedicate more time in the laboratory which I will use not only to cultivate and improve upon my own skills but also work with undergraduates to teach and develop them as researchers as well. I am excited to not only further my knowledge in synthetic chemistry through the world of organometallics, but help show others how amazing it is as well. ”

Upon completing her Ph.D. program, Davis plans to pursue post-doctoral work with aspirations to become a research professor at a primarily undergraduate institution, aiming to provide exceptional research experiences to students and foster a love for scientific inquiry.


To learn more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, visit the program site.