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National Fellowships and Scholar Programs

  • DAAD scholarship winners

Gamecocks in Germany: seven USC students awarded DAAD scholarships

Aidan Billings, Molly Conway, Shannon DePratter, Parker Huggins, Shruti Jadhav, Vansh Nagpal and Lydia Pless have been awarded scholarships from DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service. This is the largest cohort of University of South Carolina students ever to earn DAAD funding for summer research and internships in Germany. Conway, Huggins and Nagpal received the DAAD RISE scholarship for undergraduate research, while DePratter, Jadhav and Pless will participate in the DAAD RISE Professional program for graduate-level students or DAAD RISE alumni.

Why it matters

These programs combine cutting-edge STEM research, mentorship and study abroad experience to connect students with an international network of experts in their fields. Participants can choose from projects in a variety of STEM disciplines to bolster their research skills.

What it offers

DAAD RISE provides opportunities for STEM students to research with Ph.D. students at top German universities. DAAD RISE Professional participants may also be placed at industry-related research institutions. Students receive a monthly stipend for their contributions, as well as health insurance and a travel allowance.

Who they are

All recipients are South Carolina Honors College students or alumni.

Aidan Billings headshot


Rising senior Aidan Billings is a music performance and mechanical engineering double major. In addition to his engineering research and Magellan Ambassador role, Billings is also the principle second violin of the USC Symphony. He will work with a research group at HTW Berlin, investigating methods for predicting commercial buildings’ energy consumption to aid in building energy management. After graduation, Billings aspires to join the national labs system as a researcher or pursue a career in academia. 

Molly Conway


Molly Conway is a junior McNair scholar majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. Conway will spend the summer in Erlangen researching the sphingolipid metabolism in the central nervous system and its effect on neuropathic disorders such as depression. In addition to research, Conway looks forward to connecting with other DAAD RISE recipients. She plans to continue her research and pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biology or neurobiology.

Shannon DePratter


Senior biomedical engineering major and 2023 Goldwater Scholar Shannon DePratter will intern at Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Cologne. After graduating this spring, the DAAD RISE Professional program will allow her to fulfill her dream of studying abroad while gaining insight into her future career field, neuropharmaceutical research. Following her summer in Germany, DePratter will return to USC to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering.

Parker Huggins


Carolina Scholar Parker Huggins is a junior electrical engineering major. He participated in the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure Research Experience for Undergraduates last year and will spend this summer working at the Microwaves and Radar Institute of the German Aerospace Center. His project will focus on novel multi-static synthetic aperture radar techniques for drone-based remote sensing. After graduation, Huggins plans to begin a Ph.D. program in telecommunications engineering.

Shruti Jadhav


Shruti Jadhav was named the 2023 USC Outstanding Senior Aerospace Engineer and is currently earning a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. A 2023 Honors graduate, Jadhav received a DAAD RISE scholarship in 2022 and is returning to Germany as a DAAD RISE Professional. This summer, she will work at the Germany Aerospace Center in Göttingen to analyze and process TSP images from wind tunnel testing. She will continue her master’s studies at USC this fall.

Lydia Pless


Stamps scholar Lydia Pless will earn a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology this spring. Pless was honored with the Betty F. Fundenberg Undergraduate Biomedical Research award in 2023 for her work in the Truex biochemistry lab. As a DAAD RISE Professional in Munich, she will engage in microbiology research. Following her experience abroad, Pless plans to attend medical school.

Vansh Nagpal


Vansh Nagpal is a junior computer science and mathematics major. He is also the current president of USC’s Minorities in Computing organization. The DAAD RISE scholarship will take him to Hochschule Dusseldorf, University of Applied Sciences to research the use of machine learning and different sensor calibrations for the study of autonomous vehicles. Nagpal aspires to earn a Ph.D. in computer science and pursue a career in data science or machine learning.

National Fellowships and Scholar Programs provides support for DAAD RISE and DAAD RISE Professional applicants. Students interested in learning more should contact USC’s national fellowships team.

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