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U.S Fulbright Program Recipients Scatter Across the Globe

Northwestern sends near-record 26 Fulbright winners abroad

“As global exchange demands more and more competency in foreign languages, methods such as storytelling could supplement or improve learning in the classroom” – Fulbright winner Lena Kraus, who will use storytelling to teach English in Morocco

To see where the 2015-16 Fulbright Scholars are located, view the interactive map.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- From tutoring North Korean defectors to researching solar energy and hazardous medical waste, Northwestern University Fulbright scholars are pursuing their dreams and working to make a difference abroad.

A near-record 26 students and alumni accepted the Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to teach, conduct research, study or participate in service organizations for the 2015-16 academic year. An additional three grants were offered but declined.

The newest Fulbright winners have academic backgrounds ranging from mechanical engineering to art history. They will be serving in all corners of the world, from South Africa and Germany to South Korea, Russia, Morocco, Peru, Vietnam and Jordan.

The Fulbright is among the most widely recognized and respected international exchange programs in the world. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the grants aim to foster leadership and build understanding between scholars and researchers in the United States and around the world.

To apply for the next round, enrolled undergraduate and graduate students must contact Northwestern University’s Office of Fellowships. Alums are also welcome to apply through the Office of Fellowships. Contact Sara Anson Vaux, director of the office of fellowships, at, 847-491-2617, or Stephen Hill, senior associate director of the office of fellowships, at

The 2015-16 Fulbright winners are:

Michael Aleman (Warrenville, Ill.) -- Higher healthcare spending in Bali has increased the amount of hazardous medical waste that washes up on the island's beaches, endangering public health. Aleman, a mechanical engineering major, will assess the type and amount of medical waste produced by the largest public hospital in Bali, create the framework for a waste management program and present the results to heads of major hospitals and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Indonesia will serve as a test-case for better waste tracking techniques. Outside his research, Aleman will collaborate with a local rock climbing group to set up new public access climbing routes around the island.

Evelyn Atwater (Grand Rapids, Mich.) -- Atwater will teach English in Germany. Previously, she tutored German and English to advanced students and those with learning disabilities. Atwater plans to bring creativity, enthusiasm, dedication, intellectual curiosity, music and adaptability into a German classroom.

Izora Baltys (McHenry, Ill.) -- Inspired by a previous study abroad program in Ghana, Baltys applied for a Fulbright to South Africa to immerse herself in "an entirely new country, culture and context." Baltys will spend the year teaching English language courses in a secondary school. She plans to launch a tutoring program for under-served students who are preparing for exams that South Africa requires for students to graduate high school and enter university.  “Education is the root of -- and solution to -- our most grave social and societal problems,” she said.

Eleanor Burgess (Tucson, Ariz.) -- Focusing on elderly, chronically ill patients, Burgess will research creating an online health community for at-home kidney dialysis patients in Britain. The project will tackle two enduring problems for this population -- isolation and lack of reliable information. Burgess has started a master’s degree program in technology entrepreneurship at University College London (UCL). She collaborates with the British Kidney Patient Association.

Elizabeth Harrington Derderian (Chicago, Ill.) -- A doctoral candidate in the department of anthropology, Derderian will study the culture, artists and audiences in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Museums can create both a national history and a heritage; Derderian will explore how this happens when the majority of culture workers and audiences are from other lands. She will specifically look at how the staff at the new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi build and cultivate audiences amongst Emirati citizens, as well as the migrant majority population. “My study will address key shifts in the ways museums produce ‘belonging’ in the current transnational, capitalist era,” she said.

Yuri Doolan (Eastlake, Ohio)  -- Doolan will be conducting research in Seoul, South Korea, looking at the Korean/American communities that surround U.S. Army bases. Doolan will focus on Itaewon, home to the Japanese Imperial Army until it became an American military camptown after World War II. The neighborhood, a haven for fun and recreation for off-duty American G.I.s, is best known as a tourist shopping area. Doolan will examine the historical relationship between Yongsan Garrison, Itaewon, and the local Korean residents whose livelihoods and everyday realities have been shaped by the persistent U.S. military presence.

Phyllis Dugan (Wildomar, Calif.) -- While at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Dugan will pursue a master’s degree in digital media culture and education. The program’s interdisciplinary approach will allow her to address the relationship between digital media education and the diverse learning styles and backgrounds of all students. Conducting this research will help her design the structure for her own digital media education space, ATLAS.

Blair Dunbar (Geneva, Ill.) -- Dunbar will continue to research the less explored, sporadic and non-violent acts of disobedience that occurred throughout the Russian countryside after the Emancipation of 1861 and prior to the Russian Revolution of 1905. Dunbar also will study Russian through a Critical Language Enhancement Award, a stipend for intensive language study. Ultimately, she hopes her research will help revise the peasant mythology commonly espoused through such famous works as Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” leading to a better understanding of the Russian people.

Abigail Gary (Portland, Ore.) -- Gary, an English as a Second Language (ESL) volunteer for more than four years, will teach English in Peru. “Having studied and lived in Latin America, I am pursuing new challenges and opportunities to immerse myself in the region,” she said. “My experience teaching ESL and interest in developing education systems make Peru, which is currently prioritizing English education, an ideal match.”

Panagiota Tania Karas (Palos Park, Ill.) -- Karas will explore how Greece, a "gateway" to Europe for asylum-seekers, can absorb an enormous increase in undocumented immigrants as the Middle East and North Africa erupt in violence and civil wars.  Complicated by Greece’s exit from its financial crisis, her project will explore the story through journalistic articles in general-interest publications, regular social media posts from the field and scholarly articles.

Vivian Kelly (Skokie, Ill.) -- Dedicated to studying the language, history and culture of Korea, Kelly will experience it first-hand as an English teacher. “Volunteering and training to teach English as a Second Language to adults and working as a tutor to middle school girls has solidified my love of teaching,” she said.

Iga Kozlowska (Casselberry, Fla.) -- Kozlowska, who researches transnational identities in an increasingly globalized world, will return to her birthplace to study memory reconstruction and history through the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity in Warsaw. “Sociology has helped me to understand the world around me and how people form community, identity and interact with others,” she said. Kozlowksa, who grew up in Winter Park, Florida, writes on a variety of foreign policy developments relevant to the trans-Atlantic community on her blog From Moscow to Washington.

Lena Krause (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) -- Krause, who majored in theatre while also pursing French and Arabic, will use storytelling techniques to teach English in Marrakech, Morocco. Using narration and improvisation, her fluency workshops will include the Moroccan oral storytelling tradition as well as personal stories. Krause will be working with Hikayat Morocco, a non-profit organization seeking to preserve Morocco's dying tradition of hikayat storytelling. “As global exchange demands more and more competency in foreign languages, methods such as storytelling could supplement or improve learning in the classroom,” Krause said. “To be globally competitive, Morocco needs higher quality English language instruction, especially at advanced levels.”

Todor Kukushliev (Glenview, Ill.) -- Kukushliev earned a degree in biochemical engineering and will work in Laura De Laporte's research lab at the DWI-Leibniz Institute, Germany. His research involves polynippam, a polymer that changes its rigidity with temperature. Embedding it with gold particles, which produce heat when exposed to light, yields a hydrogel of reversible light-controlled rigidity. Such a hydrogel would provide a research tool to investigate the effect of mechanical properties on the direction of neurite extension.

Sophia Lazare (New York, N.Y.) -- Lazare plans to teach in Brazil.

Brenna Ledvora (Lisle, Ill.)  -- Ledvora will teach English at a middle and high school in Papenburg, Lower Saxony, offering her German students an American perspective on everything from politics and sports to culture. Ledvora plans to join community clubs and charity organization and will continue her senior thesis research on how German women experience work and family. She will also participate in sustainability organizations such as the Grüne Jugend (Green Youth). Learning German both inside and outside the classroom “has taught me the importance of using cultural experiences to teach foreign languages,” Ledvora said. “A Fulbright grant will also allow me to pursue my future career goal of working in education reform.”

Kingsley Leung (San Rafael, Calif.) -- Leung will teach English at Charmsaem Elementary School in Sejong City, South Korea. Influenced by South Korean culture, he is interested in the relationship between health and education in South Korea. He also will travel and learn more about South Korea’s history with China. Leung’s love for teaching and the impact it can have on others inspired him to apply for the Fulbright. “I also hope to relate to the students through my identity as a non-native English speaker,” he said.

Rabeya Mallick (Naperville, Ill.) -- Mallick, who has been studying French since junior high and loves to teach, will work in a high school in Argenteuil, a suburb of Paris. “I will use language education as a tool for cultural connection,” she said. In addition to teaching, Mallick hopes to get involved with after-school enrichment programs and activities with younger students. She applied for the Fulbright because it offered “a great opportunity to work and live in France, solidifying what I've been learning about the French language, as well as the French educational system.”

Monica Mehta (Warren, Ohio) -- Mehta pursues Korean language studies and will be teaching English at Naju High School in South Korea. Naju is a small town in Jeollanam-do, a province in southwestern Korea. One of 68 other English Teaching Assistants (ETAs), she recently completed her six-week orientation in Goesan, a rural town in the middle of Korea. Orientation consisted of taking Korean classes from Korean University teachers and attending teaching workshops. Mehta is blogging about her experience.

Catherine Olien (Champaign, Ill.) -- Based in Berlin, Olien will explore how Archaic Cypriot art was displayed in European museums between 1870 and 1914. “At this time, Cypriot sculpture was viewed as an inferior ‘precursor’ to that of Classical Greece, then considered the most advanced ancient civilization,” Olien said. Exhibiting a wide range of geographic and stylistic influences, Cypriot sculpture proved difficult to classify. “Each museum developed a different set of solutions, often revealing uniquely imperial biases, with interpretations determined by factors such as the political, religious and ethnic identities of Cyprus’ inhabitants,” Olien said. Hosted by Berlin’s Technische Universitat (Technical University), Olien will investigate where these claims were born, how they were supported with research in the fields of anthropology and evolutionary biology and discuss the effect they have on scholarship today.

Julia Oswald (St. Louis, Mo.), -- Oswald, a doctoral candidate in art history, will spend her Fulbright year in Germany, researching relic culture in the late medieval Holy Roman Empire. Her sources include the archives, libraries, and museum collections in Bavaria and the Rhineland.

Andrew Rowberg (Falls Church, Va.) -- Rowberg will spend the next academic year at Ludwig- Maximilian Universität (LMU) in Munich, Germany, where he will research on solar energy.  Working with a professor in the chemistry department, Rowberg will study carbon nanotube-based organic photovoltaic devices as a cost-effective improvement over conventional solar cells. “I will use zinc oxide nanowires as an interfacial layer to facilitate charge separation, while also experimenting with other active layer materials to use with carbon nanotubes,” he said. Rowberg’s project also will help prepare him for a Ph.D. program in materials science where he will continue to focus on alternative energy technologies once he has finished his Fulbright.

Terry Spinelli (Niskayuna, N.Y.) – Spinelli will teach English at the Johann-Gottfried-Herder-Gymnasium located in Pirna, Germany, near Dresden. Spinelli will study the refugee experience and research ways that German asylum law and policy compare with the U.S. She plans to join a local community orchestra and enjoy the natural beauty of nearby Saxony Switzerland. Spinelli discovered that she loved teaching last summer after working with young refugees and other recent immigrants.

Rory Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) -- Using art, film and media archives, Sykes will explore how early exchanges between Jordanian cultural institutions and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formed Palestinian national identity after 1967. Sykes will use the artistic archives from Palestinian artist and historian Ismail Shammout to gain access to the official visual language of the PLO. An analysis of Jordanian film and media archives will demonstrate co-production efforts and elucidate the Jordanian aesthetic influence.

Maeve Wall (Columbus, Ohio) -- Wall will teach English to first through sixth grade students in Daegu, South Korea. She also will spearhead an after-school program on diversity and social justice. In addition, she will tutor North Korean defectors. “I will design tasks that are creative, inclusive, and require social interaction in order to invest students in their language acquisition and develop a life-long love of learning,” she said.

Karen Wilber (Arlington Heights, Ill.) – Combining her interests in education, cultural exchange and Vietnam, Wilber will teach English at a high school in Lạng Sơn, a northern province of Vietnam. She also will create and promote cultural exchange programs. In addition, Wilber will help plan an interprovincial English conference for high school students in northern Vietnam. “I wanted the opportunity to work with students in a direct way and be involved in efforts that promote educational equality,” said Wilber, whose mother is from Vietnam. “I've always hoped for the opportunity to get to live there, learn about the history and culture, and contribute to the community in a meaningful way.”

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