What do three pre-doctoral fellows from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) have in common with Google founder Sergey Brin, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and 42 Nobel laureates? They’ve all been accepted to The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Greg Dobbels, Johanna Rayl and Patrick Schwarz were selected from more than 12,000 applicants to win the prestigious fellowship, and were among only 36 awardees matriculating into Economics PhD programs. Their colleague, Michael Galperin, received an honorable mention. The program—the nation’s oldest graduate fellowship of its kind—recruits high-potential, early-career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“Greg, Johanna, Patrick and Michael’s exceptional passion and rigor in their work demonstrates their great potential in economics,” says EPIC Director Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics, the College, and the Harris School, who supervises the researchers. “They have all grown so much in the last two years, while simultaneously making critical contributions to our research. I look forward to seeing everything they accomplish as they continue their academic careers.”

With the prestigious fellowship, the researchers receive a three-year annual stipend, with tuition and fees paid to the institution. They also have the opportunity to participate in international research and professional development offerings from the NSF, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. This fall Dobbels will enter Princeton’s Economics PhD program, Rayl will enter the program at the University of Chicago, and Schwarz will enter the one at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The researchers are part of the EPIC pre-doctoral fellowship program, which offers ambitious young researchers interested in empirical economics a bridge program between their undergraduate and graduate studies. The fellows report to Greenstone or an EPIC-affiliated faculty member. Last year, two former pre-doctoral fellows received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Harshil Sahai and Dan Stuart. They are now attending the University of Chicago and Harvard Kennedy School, respectively.

For more information on the pre-doctoral fellowship and how to apply, visit here.