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Graduate student Aimee Chabot was honored at NSF headquarters for her military service and contributions to science

Graduate Student and Veteran Aimee Chabot Honored at NSF Headquarters

Aimee Chabot was one of 11 veterans and National Science Foundation graduate research fellows honored at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Va. last week. The UC San Diego graduate student was recognized for her military service and contributions to science at the Nov. 5 ceremony.

“Both serving in the military and pursuing a career in research have been huge parts of my life, but it is rare that these two identities of mine overlap,” said Chabot. “It was really a powerful, and surprisingly emotional, experience to be recognized simultaneously for my service as both a veteran and a scientist.”

A second year graduate student in the department of psychology, Chabot is working with social psychologist Christopher Bryan to investigate decision-making and motivation. Her interests include investigating what factors are responsible for driving student debt growth, as well as unforeseen consequences of taking on larger loans. Her interest in the subject stems from her own experience financing an undergraduate education at UC San Diego.

“One of the main reasons I joined the U.S. Army was to pay for my college education,” she said. After graduating from high school, Chabot enlisted and served as a military intelligence analyst. She participated in peace-keeping efforts in Kosovo, as well as in a Southwest border mission in San Diego.

“When I became an undergraduate after serving in the Army, I was a in a very nontraditional financial situation, and I was curious about how other people managed the often difficult problem of how to pay for college, and how those decisions affected them cognitively, emotionally and financially.”

For the current academic year, Chabot is a visiting student at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management where she is working with social psychologist Hal Hershfield on topics related to financial decision-making. In addition to student loan borrowing, her research interests include testing sources of effective motivation to save for retirement, curb impulsive spending, encourage mindful consumption, donate to charitable organizations and cultivate healthier eating habits.

The NSF event included a poster session in which Chabot shared some of her research, while meeting fellow graduate students and NSF scientists.

“It was both honoring and humbling to share my work—I was really overwhelmed by the amount of interest, support and insight I received from the scientific community at the NSF,” said Chabot. “It was amazing to see first-hand how dedicated they are to furthering scientific research and to supporting junior scientists who are underrepresented in STEM fields—veterans included.”

Chabot’s graduate work is supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which recognizes outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. The fellowship provides a three-year annual stipend of $32,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees.