Current Winners

National Scholarship Award Recipients, 2018–19

We are delighted to announce this year’s national scholarship awards recipients. University of Massachusetts Amherst’s undergraduates, graduates, and post-graduate students share how they plan to utilize their awards to fulfill their research, studies, and teaching goals. Congratulations to all recipients!


Christina Bosch
Graduate Student, Special Education

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: Chile

Chile has implemented a major national reform designed to increase access to public schooling across socio-economic groups. How will teachers respond to the increased diversity in their classrooms? My project will examine teacher attitudes toward inclusive education through a survey that has been used in other countries and continents, but not in South America. The results will be used to provide teachers, researchers, and policy makers in Chile with information about the professional development needs of the teaching force in that country, and will also facilitate international and comparative exchange about inclusive education.


Michelle Chung ’18
B.S. Sustainable Community Development

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Host Country: Brazil

As a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Brazil, I will teach English to university students as well as carry out a service project in restorative housing justice and urban climate resilience. This Fulbright will help further my understanding of urban development issues in an international context, which will expand my skill set as an urban climate resilience professional.


Arielle Gillette ’15
B.A. English, Political Science; minor in Education
M.Ed. Education

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Host Country: Norway

As an English teaching assistant, I will be placed in classrooms in Norway. Splitting my time between the University of Bergen and a local high school, I will act as a resource in the classrooms for learning English and teach about American culture.



Durga Kolla
Graduate Student, Environmental Health Sciences

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: Denmark

My research project will be evaluating widely-used chemicals, called phthalates, and their effects on steroidogenesis in human adult testis tissue samples. Approximately 20 percent of young Danish men are sub-fertile, which may be due to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Worldwide, male reproductive health is declining and the collaboration with highly distinguished scientists in Denmark will allow me to contribute toward alleviating a major public health problem. My Fulbright project will further my academic and professional development. This experience will allow me to participate in a unique setting where I will be involved in the clinic and the laboratory, as well as taking additional courses while being part of an interdisciplinary research environment. I hope to communicate my research results in a way that will be of direct benefit to the community, giving the people of Denmark the power and autonomy to make conscious decisions regarding their exposure to phthalates. My hope is that this experience will embody an educational and cultural exchange that I can share.


Dhanya Kumar ’18
B.S. Microbiology

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: United Kingdom

I will accrue a master’s in biological sciences at the University of London’s Institute of Cardiovascular Research. Through this study, I plan to work with one of the largest bio-repositories of stroke samples, from across the globe, in South Asian patients in order to understand and identify an appropriate pharmacological intervention. I am looking forward to learning more about the U.K.’s National Health Service so that I may contribute to my goal of becoming an empathetic and culturally-aware healthcare practitioner.


Priscilla Mollard
Graduate student in Anthropology (Bioarchaeology)

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: Romania

I will apply bioarchaeological methods to evaluate daily life in the 14th- through 17th-century mining town of Baia Mare, Romania, via a collection of over 800 skeletons from the Piata Cetatii cemetery. My research foci will be the intersection of identity and labor, and the biosocial consequences of mining.




Niamh Mulrooney ’17
B.S. Public Health, Pre-Med; minor in Microbiology (Infectious Diseases and Global Health)

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: Swaziland

Nonprofit “mothers2mothers” (m2m) aims to bolster African healthcare systems by delivering empowerment opportunities to women, in part by employing and training HIV-positive women as community health workers to ensure patients receive access to clinical services. One of the goals at m2m is to eliminate the transmission of HIV during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As a member of the m2m research team, I will research the role of women as peer supporters in Swaziland’s health infrastructure. As a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Emerging Leader in Data Science Fellow, I have learned a great deal about the relationship between data and public health. I’m excited to share this knowledge when assisting m2m. I am applying to medical school and hope to enroll in an MD/MPH program. Afterwards, I plan to service low and middle-income countries as an infectious disease specialist, perhaps in pediatrics.


Brooke Parziale ’17
B.A. History; UMass Amherst’s International Scholars Program alumna

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Host Country: South Korea

I will teach English to South Korean primary or secondary school students for the 2018–2019 academic year. I will also connect with a Seoul-based nonprofit that teaches English to North Korean refugees, and will assist in their youth development and language learning.




Andrea Pulido ’17
B.A. Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; certificate in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: Philippines

My research focuses on the impact of Filipino culture on sexual education in the Philippines. Traditional customs, like strong familial values and religious beliefs, can often affect the way that sex education is taught and interpreted. I hope to supplement existing educational programs or consider teaching alternative methods with the overarching goal of dissecting the gap between local people’s needs and opinions surrounding sexual health. The project objectives are to create culturally appropriate recommendations and assessments, and foster dialogue among Filipino locals about their resources and autonomy, using a community-based research approach. This Fulbright opportunity connects my identity as a first-generation Filipina-American to my personal interests and future aspirations. After Fulbright, I plan to enroll in a master’s degree program to further my education in reproductive health. I want to work with people of color and improve how we can better cater to their reproductive needs.


Alexandra Saulenas ’17
B.S. Biology; certificate in Civic Engagement & Service Learning

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Host Country: Czech Republic

I will be assisting a local teacher in a high school-level English classroom [in the Czech Republic]. Beyond the classroom, I will host an after-school news club intended to keep students informed of current local and global events. Additionally, I plan to offer a form of community engagement that is influenced by the opinions of locals in order to ensure that my service is tailored to meet their needs.



Kira Tait
Ph.D. candidate, Political Science

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: South Africa

To remedy the poverty and inequality caused by apartheid, South Africa’s 1994 constitution granted everyone rights to access various social and economic goods and services, like adequate housing, health care services, and sufficient food and water. Although there are institutional tools and legal mechanisms available for people to secure access to these goods, inequality is a growing problem and poverty stubbornly persists. This project will uncover why by exploring how language, culture, and historical experience can hinder people from mobilizing their claims through courts. Through fieldwork in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, South Africa, this project will explore the various ways black South Africans make sense of basic goods and services, rights, courts, and the process of mobilizing through courts. This project will also investigate under what conditions will black South Africans express willingness to use courts to mobilize their claims in light of these meanings.


Tenzin Thargay ’18
B.A. Political Science, B.A. Chinese Language & Literature; certificate in Public Policy, International Scholars Program

Fulbright Research Award
Host Country: South Korea

I will conduct survey research on how South Korean citizens’ political party affiliations impact their attitudes toward nuclear energy in Seoul, South Korea, at Hanyang University’s Center for Energy Governance and Security. Previous work to understand local attitudes on nuclear energy are limited to measuring willingness to pay to avoid building a nuclear power plant. My project will examine how political party affiliation influences local attitudes on nuclear energy. Given the South Korean government’s decision to decrease nuclear energy, this research aims to provide deeper understanding of how the policy shift will impact the country’s energy policy, energy security, and robust nuclear industry.


Jane Viviano ’18
B.A. Middle Eastern Studies, minor in Arabic

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Host Country: Morocco

Jane graduated from UMass Amherst in 2018 with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and a minor in Arabic. She has studied Arabic for four years at UMass and Turkish for six, starting with a high school study abroad trip to Istanbul in 2011. She has studied in Jordan and Morocco and will study the Turkish language in Baku, Azerbaijan, in summer 2018 via her Critical Language Scholarship award. Interested in promoting cultural communication between Middle Eastern and American young people, Jane will be teaching university students in Morocco as an English Teaching Assistant Fulbright Scholar in 2019. She plans to pursue anthropology and writing in graduate school after completing her Fulbright experience.


Allison Yelgin ’18
B.A. English; minor in Education and German

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Host Country: Germany

While teaching English in Germany, I hope to promote an environment of classroom confidence, which will be crucial for all types of learners from different backgrounds. I will focus on discussion, collaboration, and confidence-building through respectful, passionate, and innovative conversation. In my lessons, I will encourage my students to connect their writing to their interests. My hope is to encourage a passion for writing, so students feel empowered by the work they produce. I also plan to volunteer with a program that helps displaced people learn German or English through conversation, tutoring, and fun activities, such as the Cologne Public Library’s sprachraum (language space).



Edridge D’Souza ’19
Current undergraduate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; minor in Mathematics

Barry Goldwater Scholarship

My project involves exploring hidden patterns in genomes. When the human genome was first sequenced in the early 2000s, scientists weren’t expecting it would raise more questions than it answered. The DNA sequence information from this project has been public ever since, but we’re still discovering new patterns from this old data. These patterns have been hiding in plain sight this entire time. As of 2018, other organisms have also been sequenced, and we want to use new genomic analyses to explore more of these hidden patterns. Our research group believes it has found a signal related to the regulation and activation of sex-linked genes in humans, which may change how we think about sex-linked traits and diseases. By performing bioinformatic analyses on the genomes of humans, fruit flies, and other animals, we can gain insight into one of the fundamental mechanisms governing the regulation of genes on the sex chromosomes in animals.


Eric Wuesthoff ’19
Current undergraduate in Natural Resources Conservation; minor in Biology, Anthropology

Barry Goldwater Scholarship

I am interested in understanding the ecology of threatened species in order to inform conservation measures in vulnerable ecosystems. My research has focused on the populations of two species of mouse lemurs in a range of habitats in northwestern Madagascar. These endangered primates are found nowhere else in the world and their survival is closely linked to the integrity of the forests on the island. Mouse lemurs are unique animals who have recently been used in research into Alzheimer’s in humans, making their continued survival important across disciplines. By studying the populations of these lemurs, I am better able to understand their biology and contribute to conservation decisions on the ground.


Kyle Veder ’19
Current undergraduate in Computer Science

Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention

The problem of navigation planning can be stated very simply: quickly find an obstacle-free path between two points. This problem is challenging on its own, but it becomes exponentially harder when done for multiple agents, such as robots, that interact with one another. Despite being a hard problem, it is very common in many real world scenarios. For example, robots that carry packages in a warehouse need not only avoid running into each other, they need to collaborate to avoid traffic jams in heavily traveled areas. To tackle this problem of joint planning, we use several strategies, such as sparse replanning as future collisions are discovered, anytime
replanning to quickly find and then improve valid plans, and iterative re-planning to best utilize existing plan information in the formulation of a new plan.



Michael Crowley ’19
Undergraduate in Natural Resource Conservation

Udall Scholarship

Michael’s focus on environmental conservation includes several years of field work, such as lead forester and park supervisor at DCR MassParks (Moore State Park, Paxton, Massachusetts), teacher naturalist at the Mass Audubon (Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton, Massachusetts), and project leader at the Star Wildlife Sanctuary (Boylston, Massachusetts). His experience integrating policy-level decision making and practical field experience has proven essential in creating long-lasting stewardship of the environment. Michael has been accepted in the master’s of public policy program at UMass Amherst. He spends his free time exploring nature with his daughter.



Evan Duerr ’18
B.A. Language Acquisition, Spanish

Critical Language Scholarship
Language: Swahili
Host Country: Tanzania

I will be living in Arusha, Tanzania, for three months, taking intensive language classes during the weekday mornings, with my weekends spent on cultural excursions. This scholarship will allow me to hone my Swahili language skills in an environment in which I will be fully immersed.


DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)

BreannaRose Lamb ’20
Current Undergraduate in Animal Science

DAAD RISE / Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, RISE Internship Program / German Academic Exchange Service, RISE Internship Program
Host Country: Germany

My project with the University of Applied Sciences at Bingen is investigating the diverse influences of a grassland-based diet on dairy cattle herds’ fitness. We are aiming to develop and strengthen the local geographical grassland region, “Eifel,” and improve our dairy cattle herds’ health, efficiency, and welfare. It’s an EU-funded cooperation project including many universities, experts in feeding and agriculture, veterinarians, and our participatory regional farmers.


Robert Sterling ’20
Current Undergraduate in Political Science

DAAD RISE / Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, RISE Internship Program / German Academic Exchange Service, RISE Internship Program
Host Country: Germany

The DAAD scholarship will allow me to more effectively pursue my goal of becoming a better global citizen. I will foster my ambition of increased global and cultural awareness, which has been structured through my participation in the UMass International Scholars Program. The scholarship will also aid in fulfilling my program fees and allow me to travel with an academic focus supplemented by the aid provided by the German government. In particular, I hope to use the scholarship to better understand German energy policy and “green” culture — topics which I have previously researched in my studies.



Connor Harmelink ’20
Undergraduate in Computer Science, Linguistics; minor in Japanese

Freeman Asia Scholarship
Host Country: Japan

This $3,000 scholarship is going towards my program fees at CET Japan this summer (2018). The scholarship was created to promote study abroad in Asia and requires a service project that I will complete upon my return to the U.S. I will share my experiences abroad while promoting study abroad in Asia at UMass Amherst. As a part of the University’s International Scholars Program, this was something I always intended to do, so I’m very thankful to be awarded this opportunity.



Kenneth Lin ’20
Current undergraduate in Astronomy and Physics; minor in Mathematics

Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellow
Host Country: Japan

I will be conducting fundamental condensed matter physics research at the Department of Physics in the Graduate School of Science of Kyoto University. As an incoming member of the Solid State Spectroscopy Group, led by Professor Koichiro Tanaka, I will be undertaking research on the optical properties of matter under the interaction of light through terahertz-frequency, ultrafast laser, and pulsed magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Investigating and harnessing these techniques give rise to novel photo-induced phenomena, including the characterization of unique phase transitions in magnetic and light-emitting materials, enabling us to study the spectroscopic signatures of ions, atoms, and molecules that, on the application level, are central to research, from astronomy to the biomedical sciences. By advancing our understanding of new spectral regimes and investigating photo-excitation effects on matter, new scientific instrumentation and techniques are made possible in astrophysics. For instance, where the under-explored terahertz band contains many of the strongest diagnostic spectral signatures that will allow us to probe the star formation, evolution of matter in galaxies, and the building blocks of life hidden in the astrochemistry of interstellar molecular clouds.



Comments are closed