27 NU students win Fulbright awards


For the ninth consecutive year, Northwestern University ranks among the 10 top research institutions that produce Fulbright U.S. Student award winners.

Today's edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education reports 27 Northwestern students or alumni — a near record — accepted the award and are pursuing teaching, research or other projects, funded by the nation’s premier international exchange program. An additional two awards were offered but declined.

The high number of Fulbright winners ranks Northwestern third out of all the research institutions nationwide that submit applications.

Northwestern Fulbrighters for the 2014-15 academic year hail from a variety of academic backgrounds that range from biomedical engineering and mathematics to journalism and political science. They have been dispatched to 18 different countries, including Brazil, Israel, India, South Korea and Germany.

Two Northwestern students secured Fulbrights to the United Kingdom, one of the most competitive placements, said Northwestern’s Sara Anson Vaux, the director of the Office of Fellowships and the Fulbright Faculty Adviser.

Northwestern’s largest class was 2008-09, when it led all research institutions with 32 grant winners. In 2011-12, Northwestern also had 27 recipients.

“Bringing the Wildcat spirit to New Zealand, Tanzania, Poland, Uruguay and all points in between, Northwestern students will once again be in the field pushing forward their intellectual agendas,” said Stephen Hill, senior associate director in the Office of Fellowships.

Northwestern’s winners, their hometowns and their projects include:

  • Anthony Battle (Dolton, Ill.), a former defensive lineman for the Northwestern football team, won an award to teach English in the Ivory Coast.
  • Scott Coughlin (Burnsville, Minn.), a math major, planned to investigate a major unsolved problem in astrophysics — how and why large stars explode –with Cardiff University professor Patrick Sutton in Wales.  The award will allow him to research the detection of gravitational waves, which he began studying as an undergraduate.
  • Jeremy Halpern (Silver Springs, Md.), proposed studying sustainable urban mobility by interviewing “choice riders” in Haifa, Israel, or those who have access to a car but choose public transit. Halpern’s research plan involves designing and conducting two in-depth surveys.
  • Emil Klosowiak (Glenview, Ill.), is the second Wildcat member of his family to receive a Fulbright. A biomedical engineering major, Klosowiak proposed research on the use of hydrogels to help promote nerve regeneration in paralysis patients at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland.
  • Amisha Patel (Jackson, Miss.), a fellow at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, proposed studying pre-hospital care of patients with heart attacks in India by using focus groups, analyzing documents and conducting in-depth interviews with healthcare professionals and patients.
  • Nora Richter (Chicago, Ill.), an Integrated Sciences Program major, proposed collecting and analyzing lake sediments from Sachsler Seefeld in the Swiss Alps to reconstruct climate changes and natural hazards during the Holocene epoch. She hopes understanding past climate patterns will help predict future changes in environmental conditions within and near the lake, and potential risks to local communities.
  • Mark Specht’s (Evanston, Ill.), project explores the ethical considerations associated with the “pest-free” plan on Stewart Island in New Zealand, which entails eradicating many invasive species. Ultimately, he hopes his research will address the question of how predator eradication should be carried out on the island.
  • Christina Walker (Oakland, Tenn.), films and conducts ethnography with 22 dairy farmers in Rotorua, New Zealand who formed a collective effort to meet new environmental requirements back in 2010. Her project will document how communal efforts among farmers evolve to influence decision-making and balance risk.
  • Michael Witek (South Elgin, Ill.), a Ph.D. student in the department of earth and planetary science, proposed to implement a new technique to assessing seismic hazards in the southern Korean peninsula, which is susceptible to earthquakes. He hopes it will help produce accurate models of the amount of shaking and damage caused by an arbitrary earthquake.

The other NU Fulbright recipients are: Nicholas Boffi (Avon, Conn.), Israel, physics; Nicole Bronnimann (Tucson, Ariz.), Germany, teaching English; Iman Childs (Queens Village, N.Y.), Rome, journalism; Sofia Falzoni (Key Biscane, Fla.), Brazil, teaching English; Hannah Green, United Kingdom, journalism; Nadia Hlebowitsch (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Uruguay, teaching English; Christopher Hoffman (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Germany, teaching English; Candace Kohli, (Dundee, Ohio), Germany, theology and religion; Neel Lalkiya (Binghamton, N.Y.), Taiwan, teaching English; Rachel Markon, South Africa, teaching English; Tracy Navichoque (Los Angeles, Calif.), Uruguay, teaching English; Joel Penning (Valley Center, Kansas), Italy, history; Janesh Rahlan (Aurora, Ill.), Turkey, teaching English; Julie Santella (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Tanzania, political science; Rachel Scholes (Olympia, Wash.), New Zealand, chemistry; Kia Sosa (Highland Park, Ill.), Croatia, teaching English; Jacob Wunsh (Homer Glen, Ill.), Germany, teaching English; Kali Zhou (Irvine, Calif.), China, public health.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which was designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of other countries, provides support for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant programs. Candidates succeed based upon academic merit and leadership potential.

It is one of several Fulbright programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education.

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