19 students win Fulbrights

At least 19 University of Chicago students received Fulbright Fellowships this year, according to U of C Fulbright adviser David Comp. 73 U of C students applied for the prestigious program.

By Constance Zhang

Correction appended

At least 19 University of Chicago students received Fulbright Fellowships this year, according to U of C Fulbright adviser David Comp. 73 U of C students applied for the prestigious program.

The Fulbright Fellowship awards more than 1,450 grants to U.S. students to study overseas in all fields of study. The grant assists students with one academic year of study, research, or teaching experience. Projects may include university course work, independent library or field research, or professional training in the arts. It is designed for recent B.A. and B.S. graduates, masters and doctoral candidates, and young professionals and artists. The scholarship aims to promote cross-cultural interaction and understanding.

Candidates are reviewed by the University before being submitted to the Fulbright selection committees, and are primarily evaluated on the strength of the projects they propose. “There are no G.P.A. requirements for the Fulbright. They want great and interesting projects from good students. I would say a 3.2 G.P.A. is good. Someone with a 3.2 and a good proposal will get it over someone with a 3.8 G.P.A. but a mediocre proposal,” Comp said.

Fourth-year Brinton Ahlin, one of the 19 Fulbright recipients, plans to use his fellowship to study in Tajikstan. After traveling to Russia in 2006 on a FLAG grant, he became interested in Russian Central Asia.

“I found the confluence of cultural influences there and the nostalgia for the Soviet Union to be fascinating,” Ahlin said.

Ahlin’s project will be a direct continuation of his B.A. research on the effects of mass Tajik migration to Russia. He will live with families in a village in northern Tajikistan to explicate the various social obligations and desires that affect the decisions of migrant workers and their families.

Fourth-year Emma Lantz received a grant to advance chimpanzee health-monitoring measures at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

“I’ll be training the Tanzanian research assistants in real-time data entry for an online database used to gather and analyze health observations, and to incorporate non-invasive fecal sample collection for endocrine hormone extraction in the daily routine,” Lantz said.

Lantz began her career at the Lincoln Park Zoo, conducting visitor behavior research through a Metcalf Fellowship. She has also engaged in long-term research work with the Fischer Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, co-authored a paper to be submitted to the American Journal of Primatology, and spent six months in Tanzania studying Swahili and conducting a research project on zebra herd location in Tarangire National Park.

Not all of the Fulbright recipients plan to focus on research. Susan Pei (B.A. ’07) plans to go to Macau on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) at the University of Macau. Pei also hopes to get an internship at the Macau Science Center, which she hopes will help her examine how cultural differences may or may not affect public attitudes toward science policy and education.

As an undergraduate, Pei did research in neurobiology, and spent two summers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The other 16 Fulbright recipients are, listed by name and designated country: Chundra Cathcart, Bulgaria; Inga Diederich, South Korea; Isaac Freillich Jones, Mongolia; Thalia Gigerenzer, India; Sonia Gollance, Germany; Thomas Graham, The Netherlands; Michelle Grise, Israel; Sarah Kull, Russia; Michael Lefferts, Andorra; Sophia Li, China; David Macdonald, China; Adwait Parker, France; Emma Rosenberg, Germany; Andrew Rothe, Russia; Elizabeth So, South Korea; and May Tran, Japan.

The U of C had a total of 17 Fulbright fellows for the 2007-2008 grant period, and 21 fellows for the 2008-2009 period. More Fulbright recipients for the 2009-2010 period are expected to be announced over the next few weeks as recipients finalize their plans.

Correction: the original version of this article omitted the names of two Fulbright fellows: Chundra Cathcart and Inga Diederich. It also incorrectly identified Sara Friedman, Alexandra Frons, Justin Hill, Leslie Kan, Elizabeth Leiserson, Nathana O’Brien, Joseph Riina-Ferrie, and Noah Yavitz as Fulbright recipients. They are alternates for the fellowship.