Fulbright – UW Graduate School Skip to content

Eight Graduate Students Receive Fulbright Fellowships for 2024-25

Colombia, Jordan and Germany are a few of the countries where University of Washington (UW) graduate students and alumni will be studying and working next year, with eight students awarded Fulbright Fellowships in the 2024-25 academic year.

The U.S. scholarship program is the largest international exchange opportunity in the country for students to pursue graduate study, advanced research and teaching.

This year’s group of graduate students and alumni will be using their awards to study everything from disobedient robots to rural community health management of snakebite envenoming to women’s access to quality care during perimenopause.

UW Graduate and professional students and alumni can apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program with support from the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Awards. If you are interested in applying, please contact Fulbright Program Adviser Michelle Sutton.

Meet this year’s awardees

Megan Wing is the Fulbright recipient for 2022–2023

Megan Wing portrait

This year, one UW graduate student received a grant through the U.S. Fulbright Student Program to serve as an English teaching assistant in Mexico. This popular grant allows graduate students and alumni to gain more international experience and build skills in facilitation and leadership. Megan Wing, who recently received her Master’s of Education in instruction and curriculum from the UW’s College of Education, will be living and teaching in Mexico this coming year.

Megan Wing hadn’t always planned to become a teacher. While working toward her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Richmond, Megan sensed that her major wasn’t a perfect fit. Knowing that Megan had studied Spanish, a friend suggested she explore Teach for America, a non-profit that recruits teachers to work in underserved communities. By the end of her junior year of college, Megan was accepted into Teach for America and earned a teaching certificate. 
For five years, Megan taught at elementary schools in Tulsa, Okla., and Seattle, where she worked with families and students who spoke Spanish at home. As an early childhood educator, she quickly realized the barriers in American public schools that prevent families and students from accessing school services, programs, and relationships with teachers if English is not their primary language.   

The concept of having these different experiences to draw me out of my comfort zone is what led me to Teach for America and ultimately apply to Fulbright.

Megan Wing // Master’s of Education

Megan’s ability to communicate in Spanish proved valuable for the experience of the students and families with whom she worked. She has been studying Spanish since the sixth grade, knowing it would be important to learn and have later in life. This work led her to Fulbright, where she will have the opportunity to become more confident in using Spanish in schools, learn from Mexican educators and school leaders, and work with families and students in Mexico.  

As part of the Fulbright application, Megan was interviewed in English and Spanish by a screening panel at the UW and staff at her future school in Mexico. That, along with a written Spanish test, ensured her ability to communicate professionally in Spanish. “It was an intense process, but Michelle from the Office of Fellowships & Awards helped me prepare for the types of questions they would ask in each language,” said Megan.  

As she prepares to move to another country, Megan is excited to learn more about Mexican culture. She hopes to bring her experience and new perspective to American education spaces when she returns.  

“I hope to challenge stereotypical or misinformed views on immigrant families in the United States and multilingual learners within and beyond school settings,” Megan said. The Fulbright experience will prepare her to further her work in early childhood classrooms, coach new educators, and eventually pursue school leadership.  

Megan worked closely with the UW Graduate School’s Office of Fellowships & Awards to prepare her Fulbright application. To assist graduate students applying for the Fulbright, the team provides individual advising, virtual workshops, and application reviews with feedback each summer quarter just before the autumn application deadline.  

“It seems overwhelming at first with the amount of paperwork and documentation needed in the process,” Megan said. “But it’s manageable if you plan ahead, and Michelle helped me with that.”  

UW graduate and professional students and alumni can apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program with support from the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Awards. If you are interested in applying don’t hesitate to contact Fulbright Program Adviser Michelle Sutton, gradappt@uw.edu

Four UW graduate students receive Fulbright awards for 2021–22

(From left) Sarah Philo, Minh Nguyen, Kathleen Abadie and Christina Park were named Fulbright Finalists for the 2021-22 year.

Four UW graduate students received Fulbright Fellowships for the 2021-2022 year, with awards to teach and conduct research in Taiwan, Israel, Portugal and Nepal. 

Bringing their expertise in bioengineering, education, immunity and epidemiology, the UW awardees look forward to learning from and working with their new institutions. 

During the 2020-2021 academic year, the UW was named a top Fulbright producer. The Fulbright awards this year were especially competitive, with limited spots caused by the pandemic. 

UW graduate and professional students and alumni can apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program with support from the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Awards. If you are interested in applying, please contact Fulbright Program Adviser Michelle Sutton: gradappt@uw.edu.

Meet this year’s awardees:

Sarah Philo 

Doctoral student, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences 

Award to conduct research on antimicrobial resistance genes in the environment in Portugal

Sarah Philo was born and raised in southeast Michigan where her love for nature and science bloomed. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she determined the ideal way to use science to better the world was to pursue further training in global health.

As a result, Philo received a master’s in Global Health from Duke University. While at Duke, she became fully engaged with One Health, a scientific movement to expand understanding of the interconnection between human, animal, and environmental health. The importance of One Health has been underscored by recent pandemics fueled by zoonotic viruses. Philo applied One Health concepts while conducting her master’s research in Sibu, Malaysia. There, she studied the relationship between gastroenteritis in children and the prevalence of norovirus in stool samples collected from swine farms.

Since Philo started her Ph.D. in Environmental and Occupational Hygiene at the University of Washington, her research has been primarily focused on method evaluation and development for wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2. She has also had the opportunity to serve as a TA for a handful of undergraduate and graduate courses. 

Philo is excited to continue a year of her Ph.D. conducting research in Lisbon, Portugal. She plans to put the lessons of the pandemic to further use by investigating the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in diverse environmental water systems. These systems will include urban, rural, and hospital wastewater from different regions of Portugal. She hopes that this breadth of research will equip her to help mitigate future health crises.

“Being a recipient of a Fulbright award is an incredible honor because I have the opportunity to not only study under fantastic scientists, but also to push my boundaries,” Philo said. “I’m excited to learn about Portuguese culture and to be a representative of UW.”

Minh Nguyen

Master in Teaching Certificate, alumna ’20

Award for English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan

Minh Anh Nguyen was born in Vietnam, and immigrated to Portland, Oregon, when she was 9 years old. She is a first-generation college student, and a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship and the Gates Millennium Scholarship. During her undergraduate studies at Yale University, she struggled academically and started to notice the stark difference between her large public high school education and her peers’ private education. This sparked her interest in education and directed her major in political science with a focus on education policy. 

While studying abroad with SIT Comparative Education Program in Chile and Argentina, she interviewed students, teachers, and community members to compare how each country teaches its history of dictatorships. After returning to the US, she extended this project by focusing her senior thesis on examining the relationship between civic education and civic participation in young adults.

Nguyen earned her Master in Teaching Certificate through the U-ACT program at UW. She currently teaches sixth-grade math at Rainier Prep Middle School. As a math teacher, she strives to help students connect the math they learn in the classroom to their daily lives and to use math to understand social injustices.

Through the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Taipei, Taiwan, she will work with local teachers to teach English to middle school students. 

“I look forward to learning about the Taiwanese education system through immersion and collaboration with the local community, and on a more personal level, I am excited for the opportunity to learn Mandarin, and to further explore my Asian American identity,” she said.

Upon returning to the US after the Fulbright ETA, she will pursue a Master of Education in International Education Policy and Management at the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. She hopes to combine her experiences in the classroom and in different education systems around the world to examine how the US educational system can best support its diverse population of teachers and students. 

Kathleen Abadie

Doctoral student, Department of Bioengineering 

Award to conduct research on immune cell dynamics in solid tumors to advance cancer immunotherapy in Israel

Kathleen Abadie loves immune cells. As a Ph.D. student studying T cell fate decisions, she is continually amazed at their ability to mount rapid, sensitive, and specific attacks against immune challenges and humbled by their potential to fight disease when properly harnessed.

Abadie first became enthralled with biological systems as a chemical engineering student at Rice University. She realized that the chemical reactors she modeled for classes were not so different from the complex cellular systems she studied as an undergraduate researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine next door, with each utilizing feedback control to respond to inputs and regulate outputs.

Through work in early translational research at Celgene (now Bristol Myers Squibb) and pharmaceutical development at Genentech, Abadie grew to appreciate the potential for scientific discovery to bring better therapies to patients as well as the massive engineering feat required to transform discoveries into drugs. She became specifically interested in drugs that leverage the immune system to fight disease, termed immunotherapies.

She came to graduate school in the Kueh Lab in the Department of Bioengineering to study how immune cells respond to signals to coordinate rapid and effective responses to pathogens and other threats, such as cancer. Better understanding these mechanisms will enable more rational engineering of immunotherapies. 

During her Fulbright Fellowship at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, she will work in a genomics technology development lab to build new tools to measure behavior of immune cells in solid tumors.

“I am honored to receive a Fulbright award and extremely grateful for the opportunity to work at the intersection of genomics and immunology in the Amit lab at the Weizmann Institute,” Abadie said. “I’m also excited to experience scientific research from a cultural perspective different from my own. I know this experience will make me a better scientist and a better person.”

Christina Park

Doctoral student, Department of Epidemiology

Awarded the Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship in Public Health to conduct research on blood pressure control using mobile health technology in Nepal

Christina Park is a student in the Ph.D. program in Epidemiology in the School of Public Health. She is studying the long-term consequences of high blood pressure in older adults. Her interest in improving the prevention and management of cardiovascular risk factors, especially untreated high blood, pressure started after her father suffered a stroke.

As a Fulbright-Fogarty fellow, Park plans to contribute to efforts to reduce the burden of uncontrolled hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases in Nepal with the use of mobile health technology. The goal of her proposed study is to fill the gaps in understanding of cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension among Nepalese adults. Her project will be integrated into a larger study involving the use of a mobile application system for the self-management of diabetes and control of hypertension in Nepal led by UW Epidemiology Ph.D. graduates who are now faculty at Dhulikhel Hospital, Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences.

“I am honored to be named a Fulbright-Fogarty fellow and grateful for the opportunity to not only conduct research in Nepal but also learn the history, language and culture of Nepal,” Park said.

Currently, Park is working as a graduate research assistant in a NIH-funded research project about the effects of air pollution and neighborhood social environment on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease led by faculty at UW and the University of Montana. Prior to matriculating at UW, she worked as a research assistant in a nephrology research group at the University of California, Irvine, where she also earned an MPH degree. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Eight graduate students receive Fulbright fellowships for 2020–21 year

China, Germany, Nigeria, and Sweden are just some of the countries where UW graduate students and alumni will be studying and working next year, as eight students were awarded Fulbright Fellowships for the 2020-2021 school year. 

UW was named a top producer of Fulbright students and scholars last year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. This year’s group of graduate students and alumni will be using their awards to study everything from women’s reproductive health to flood hazards to Chinese science fiction. 

UW Graduate and professional students and alumni can apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program with support from the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Awards. If you are interested in applying, please contact Fulbright Program Adviser Michelle Sutton: gradappt@uw.edu.

Meet this year’s awardees: 

Shelby Ahrendt 

Doctoral student, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering  

Award to conduct dissertation work on flood management in the Netherlands 

Shelby Ahrendt

Shelby Ahrendt spent her childhood canoeing the network of lakes and rivers that straddle the US-Canadian border in a remote region of northern Minnesota. Her family, which ran a small canoe-outfitting business, taught Ahrendt the importance of protecting the waterways. Still, she learned quickly that humans and water often lack a symbiotic relationship: sea levels threaten coastal cities and floods and droughts are increasingly destructive. 

Understanding these water-related challenges drove Ahrendt to pursue a doctoral degree in civil engineering as well as the Fulbright research project. Ahrendt will be conducting dissertation work in the Netherlands through a special award: the Fulbright/NAF (Netherland-American Foundation) Flood Management Award. Ahrendt will collaborate with a team of researchers at TUDelft (the Delft University of Technology) to investigate how flood-hazard is affected when rivers change shape, and will use the results of this research to inform flood-predictions around Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. 

“I’m honored to receive Fulbright funding to conduct a research project in the Netherlands where I will study how flood hazard is affected when rivers are changing shape,” Ahrendt said. “Researchers at my collaborating institution, TUDelft, are leaders in the field of fluid mechanics and flood modeling and I’m excited to engage with their expertise in this endeavor. I look forward to using the results as part of my Civil Engineering PhD to inform flood-safety in the regions around Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.” 

Ahrendt received a bachelor’s degree in physics and studio art from St. Olaf College, then worked as a groundwater modeler at the Illinois State Water Survey to develop a method that would provide farmers with aquifer predictions in real-time. In 2018, Ahrendt joined a team of researchers at the University of Washington studying the impacts of sediment on river-flooding in the Pacific Northwest. 

Helen K. Thomas 

’16 graduate, Master of Arts in Cultural Studies at UW Bothell

Award to conduct research on using literature to cultivate empowerment and global citizenship in girls in Nigeria

Helen K Thomas

Helen K. Thomas’ interest in representation in storytelling grew out of her history as a voracious adolescent reader, a teenage community theater actor, and a burgeoning young adult (YA) fiction writer during her senior year as an English major at Spelman College. While in graduate school at University of Washington Bothell, she examined her artistic practice of fiction writing through an academic lens by delving into research on YA novels featuring POC protagonists and the shifting perceptions these books engender in teen readers.

After graduate school, Thomas served as the Communications Manager at both the Northwest African American Museum and Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, where she continued to utilize storytelling as a tool to promote the multidisciplinary works of black artists from across the Diaspora. She has had the honor of volunteering as an Adult Ally at Powerful Voices and as a mentor at Young Women Empowered, two dynamic community organizations dedicated to providing social justice centered leadership programming for POC, immigrant, low-income girls* in Washington State. Thomas, who is working on her first YA novel, was recently part of the inaugural Tin House YA Fiction Workshop and is currently a 2020 Jack Straw Writers Fellow. 

During her Fulbright Research Fellowship, she will conduct reading circles with teen girls in order to explore the efficacy of using young adult novels featuring black girl protagonists as an alternative, humanities-centered intervention toward empowering and increasing a sense of global citizenship. Her goal is to develop and disseminate a progressive, evidence-based curriculum as well as provide training to interested local teachers, librarians, and organization leaders.

Hannah VanBenschoten 

Doctoral student, Department of Bioengineering 

Award to conduct drug delivery research related to reproductive health in Sweden  

Hannah VanBenschoten

Growing up in a family of engineers, Hannah VanBenschoten always knew she wanted to pursue an academic path that employed technical solutions to make a difference in people’s lives. As an undergraduate studying Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, VanBenschoten was interested in the issue of equity when it comes to health, particularly equitable investment in medical innovation for conditions that affect underserved and marginalized populations. 

One field VanBenschoten felt particularly drawn to was reproductive health. VanBenschoten worked with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts to help form a Reproductive Rights and Policy Advocates Club at BU. Canvassing for pro-choice candidates, especially around the time of the 2016 election, highlighted to VanBenschoten the significance of working to ensure both political and biomedical commitment to women’s health and reproductive freedom. 

Pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at UW, VanBenschoten felt lucky to join a research group that marries her technical interests, specifically biomaterials and drug delivery, with a broader aim of designing tools for contraception and STI prevention. VanBenschoten’s work so far has been focused on developing biodegradable polyester nano fibers that offer tunable release of contraceptive agents to mucosal surfaces within the female reproductive tract. VanBenschoten is excited to continue related research during her Fulbright grant through a collaboration with a group at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where she will work on developing a simplified drug delivery system for pharmacologically mediated abortion. 

“I am incredibly honored and excited to travel to Sweden, where I will research a new drug delivery modality designed to simplify the current medical abortion protocol that was originally developed there,” VanBenschoten said. “I am looking forward to undertaking this project in collaboration with a research group at the World Health Organization Center in Stockholm that seeks to understand and improve immigrant and refugee women’s experiences with abortion. Ultimately, I hope this opportunity will contribute to my Ph.D. in Bioengineering focused on expanding family planning options for women in high need and at-risk groups.” 

Richard Boyechko 

Doctoral student, Cinema and Media Studies 

Award to conduct dissertation research on the rise in popularity of Chinese science fiction literature in Chengdu, China 

Richard Boyechko

Richard Boyechko was born and grew up in Western Ukraine during the breakup of the Soviet Union. After coming to the United States as a teenager in the late 1990s, his family’s first years in the country were dominated by a struggle to learn their new language while trying to make ends meet on the meager wages from immigrant-friendly jobs. As a first-generation college student, Boyechko describes his undergraduate education as “rocky,” beginning at a community college and continuing at Portland State University, eventually resulting in a bachelor’s degree in English and Chinese literatures. In his time at PSU, Boyechko took part in the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, which encouraged and prepared him to pursue a doctoral degree. 

Studying at UW since 2013, Boyechko is now writing his dissertation on contemporary works of science fiction from Russia, China, and Korea that explore what it means for people to live in densely populated, tight quarters on an increasingly damaged planet. During his Fulbright research project in northwest China, Boyechko plans to interview authors, publishers, and fans of science fiction to better understand how people connected with that subculture in China engage with the questions of modernity and technological development. Boyechko sees science fiction as a genre which both embraces and problematizes these ideas, therefore offering a way to examine what we value as a civilization. 

Boyechko views the Fulbright award as an opportunity to strengthen the crucial connections across the globe during this grief-stricken time of the pandemic that is ruthlessly showing how fragile society is and how dependent people are on each other, both as humans and as inhabitants of a planet shared with other living beings. 

Abigail Link 

Doctoral student, School of Nursing 

Awarded the Fulbright-Fogarty Award in Public Health to conduct research on the prevalence of meningitis in rural northern Uganda 

Abigail Link

Abigail Link’s passion for global health began in 2000 after being confronted by the tragic but preventable effects of polio, manifested by the withered limbs of people in the streets of Fortaleza, Brazil. This connection to help improve the health of people where the greatest health care needs exist brought her to Uganda in 2016 through the Global Health Service Partnership, implemented through Peace Corps and SEED Global Health. While teaching midwifery students she found her passion for teaching and the sustainable impact teaching and research can bring for future leaders in nursing and midwifery.   

This experience inspired Link to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing at UW, and her dissertation research has brought her back to the place where her inspiration began: Uganda. She is humbled and honored by this opportunity to become a Fulbright scholar and is excited to be able continue her program of research. 

During her Fulbright year, Link plans to perform secondary data analysis to assess the prevalence of meningitis in rural northern Uganda. The purpose of this research is to understand the burden of this disease and the experiences that patients and providers have regarding the care and treatment in order to improve meningitis care and mortality outcomes.  She hopes the findings will provide evidence of the importance of preventing and treating this disease though access to interventions such as diagnostics, treatments, and preventative measures through meningococcal vaccines and cryptococcal screening to prevent unnecessary disease and death. 

Saranda Ross 

‘19 graduate of UW School of Law 

Award to conduct research on solutions to environment-related food insecurity in Brazil 

Saranda Ross

A Tacoma native, Saranda Ross is a 2019 UW Law graduate and licensed attorney who has received a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct fieldwork in Brazil. Fluent in Portuguese, Ross will work with underserved communities in Brazil to advance equal access to food justice. Her project focuses on legislative and sociopolitical solutions to environment-related food insecurity including availability, access, utilization, and stability of resources.

Ross is well-prepared for the challenges she will face in completing her nine-month project. While she earned her bachelor’s degree in communications and human rights from UW Tacoma, she also volunteered offering civil legal aid services at Tacoma Pro Bono. She then lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied Spanish and volunteered for a local environmental organization. During law school, Ross received a FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese and international law, and was also a Senior Managing Editor on the Washington International Law Journal. In addition to working at a civil litigation law firm during her 1L and 2L summers, she received funding from a second FLAS fellowship to continue her Portuguese studies in Lisbon, Portugal.

Currently, Ross is a law clerk at the Washington State Court of Appeals, a volunteer attorney for Tacoma Pro Bono, a board member in two legal minority associations, and a professional mentor to pre-law students. In her free time, she trains in Muay Thai, worships the moon, and binge-reads post-apocalyptic novels. 

Laurel Morgan Miller Marsh 

Doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering 

Award to conduct dissertation research on flow-diverting stents and their use to treat cerebral aneurysms in Germany 

Laurel Morgan Miller Marsh

Laurel Marsh’s upbringing near the campus of Mississippi State University not only inspired her to attend the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science but also became an important aspect of her academic path when she began working with inertial measurement units on model rockets in the Aerospace Engineering department during her senior year of high school. When she was not planning space missions for her undergraduate coursework, you could find her working with many STEM camps and competitions similar to the ones that had fostered her love of learning as a young student, including I Am Girl and B.E.S.T robotics. In the summer of 2014, she was selected for a NASA internship where she found the challenge of coordinating interdisciplinary teams toward a common goal appealing.

As a doctoral student at the University of Washington, Marsh is working on a collaborative project with the Multiphase Flow and Cardiovascular Lab and the Stroke and Applied NeuroScience Center. The field of cerebrovascular engineering provides her with the opportunity to work with different groups through projects which melds science and medicine. Marsh is now excited and grateful for the opportunity to broaden her collaborative efforts with a team of engineers and clinicians in her host country of Germany, studying the effects of treatments for brain aneurysms and immersing herself in the culture along the way. She also intends to engage with the local community via participation in outreach events, as well as an English week at surrounding schools. Her hopes for the next year are to learn more about detecting specific aneurysm features, to develop her pre-existing skills in computationally modeling cerebrovascular flow, and to give back and help others during her year as a Fulbright scholar and onwards throughout her career.

“Eager to work with yet another amazing team of engineers and clinicians, I can’t wait to call Germany home for 2021!” Marsh said. “I am so excited to participate in the Fulbright program as its emphasis is on global collaborative studies, and throughout my research I’ve seen the growing need for working together towards a better, mutual understanding of the problems at hand.” 

Ross Henderson 

Doctoral student in the Asian Languages and Literature Department 

Award to conduct dissertation research in Japan 

Ross Henderson

Ross Henderson is a Seattle native studying Classical and Medieval Japanese literature in the Department of Asian Languages & Literature. He began studying the Japanese language as a teenager in the Seattle Public Schools and has yet to stop. He attended Earlham College in Indiana, spending his junior year at Waseda University in Tokyo. Graduating just months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, Henderson spent two years teaching English in Iwate Prefecture, one of the areas most seriously affected by the disaster. 

In a transformative seminar on the celebrated romance, The Tale of Genji, held at Waseda, Henderson fell in love with the world of the Japanese court as reflected in Japanese poetry. A month spent in a Zen monastery during this same period confirmed an interest in the intersection of religion and cultural practice which continues to inform his work.

Since returning to Seattle for graduate work, Henderson’s studies have focused on the literature of the 13th and 14th centuries, from the collecting of court verse as the great age of the imperial court came to a close, to the aesthetic self-making of the warrior class that rose to take the reigns of power. 

Henderson will use his Fulbright Research Fellowship to study the poetry of learned Rinzai Zen monks resident in the state-sponsored monastic network collectively called the “Five Mountains.” Close to offices of institutional power and engaged as quasi-ambassadors for the shogun in his attempt to establish trade relations with China, the art of these cloistered poets shines a light on the function of cultural exchange in diplomacy in ways still relevant today.

Six graduate students receive Fulbright fellowships for 2023

Japan, the Philippines and Israel are a few of the countries where University of Washington graduate students and alumni will be studying and working next year, with six students awarded Fulbright Fellowships for 2023.  

The U.S. scholarship program is the largest international exchange opportunity in the country for students to pursue graduate study, advanced research and teaching. 

This year’s group of graduate students and alumni will be using their awards to study everything from Ukrainian refugee health experiences to multilingual elementary education to autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).  

UW Graduate and professional students and alumni can apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program with support from the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Awards. If you are interested in applying, please contact the Fulbright Program Adviser Michelle Sutton

Meet this year’s awardees:  

Jacob Beckert

Doctoral Student, Department of History 

Jacob Beckert is a Ph.D. candidate from the Department of History and will be conducting research in Israel and Palestine related to his dissertation, “Profit in the Holy Land: American Capital and Development in Mandatory Palestine.” His research focuses on the efforts of a group of American investors to utilize capitalist methods to promote Jewish settlement in Mandatory Palestine. Jacob will spend his time researching in Israeli archives, focusing on the effects of this investment, and the relationship between these investors and Jews and Arabs living in Palestine.  

Since childhood, Jacob has held a strong interest in the history of Israel and Palestine. 

His focus on American capitalist development in the region occurred during the first year of his Ph.D. when he found documents relating to a group of American investors pouring money into Palestine. He realized that despite the clear importance of the organization, virtually nothing had been written about them—and immediately knew he had found his dissertation topic.  

He hopes to become a professor the future, specializing in the history of Israel and Palestine. While in Israel, Jacob will continue to expand his network of connections in the region and find additional ways to make a positive impact with his work. 

Eliyah Omar

Doctoral Student, Sociocultural Anthropology

Eliyah Omar is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology and will spend his time researching digital popular culture and contemporary identity formation dynamics in Japan. Eliyah chose his research project because of his personal interest in popular culture, his background in Japanese studies and as an entry point to examine contemporary ways that people are navigating their existence and making sense of the world and their place in it. 

As an anthropologist, it is fascinating for Eliyah to think of all the different ways reality can manifest for different people, and to reflect on the life factors which have led him to be the person he currently is. Many things go into determining an individual’s existence and personal orientations, with cultural influence, individual choices and pure luck being a few factors.  

While in Japan, Eliyah will learn from and collaborate with people in various locations across the country. He has planned many aspects of travels, but he is most looking forward to the unexpected adventures that can unfold. 

His ultimate goal is to contribute to intercultural understanding, appreciation and respect through a career in anthropological research and professorship. 

Rachel Shi

Master’s student, Department of Bioengineering

Rachel Shi is a current master’s student in the Department of Bioengineering and will conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPIP) in Germany. She will investigate biopolymer coatings for biomedical devices that minimize immunogenic responses, optimize device performance and can be sustainably synthesized and degraded. 

The bioengineering program introduced her to using translational research to directly improve patient outcomes. Since 2020, Rachel has been working with Professor Buddy Ratner on developing polymeric materials for dialysis application and will be building upon her work in material design at the MPIP, while exploring new techniques and applications in medical coatings. On top of conducting her research, Rachel hopes to volunteer within the healthcare and education spaces.  

This experience will give her a lens into the direct impacts of translational research on the medical field and provide a cross-cultural literacy that she can bring to her career as an aspiring physician. 

Nicholas Andrews

Doctoral Student, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics  

Nicholas Andrews will be at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway and advised by Professor Kristin Y. Pettersen. His research will develop and test control algorithms for a self-propelled, articulated and modular eel-inspired autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) performing subsea inspection and intervention tasks. His research will use fundamental concepts from control theory, robotics and artificial intelligence to design algorithms that optimally orient the eel AUV to maximize its “observability” – a metric of the vehicle’s perception that quantifies how useful its sensors are in providing situational awareness information. Maximizing the vehicle’s perception will improve its robustness and efficiency in accomplishing tasks in variable ocean conditions. Although the eel AUV is the designated application of this research, the methodologies developed also apply to a large class of other vehicles as well. 

Nicholas is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and has spent 3 years working on spacecraft mission design and analysis for Boeing in Southern California before coming to the University of Washington. 

Nicholas has always been interested in underwater robotics because of the similar challenges that arise when designing autonomous vehicles to operate in these extreme environments. During the summer of 2022, he had the opportunity to participate in the VISIONS ten-day at-sea research expedition through the UW School of Oceanography.  

Nicholas is looking forward to connecting with the Norwegian host community, contributing to exciting research and exploring the fjords. He is excited to immerse in Norwegian culture and make lifelong connections on the other side of the world. 

After graduation, he wants to continue working on underwater and space robotics and would like a job that allows him to routinely travel or live abroad and collaborate with international researchers. 

Camille Ungco

Doctoral Student, Literacy and Culture, UW College of Education 

Camille will conduct research on teacher training for multilingual elementary education at the University of the Philippines-Diliman in Quezon City. She aims to learn how the Philippines, which is currently the only Southeast Asian country with a national policy on multilingual education, supports their pre-service teachers to sustain the Indigenous, local and national languages of the archipelago. 

Camille is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Language, Literacy and Culture at UW’s College of Education. Prior to this, she was a 4th grade teacher in a Title I public school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Camille graduated with a master’s in education from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where she focused on multilingual elementary curriculum and instruction.  

During her own teacher preparation, she researched U.S. English language learner programs and investigated current and historic education policies that predominantly favored English-only, K-12th grade instruction. In her investigation, she found out that her own parents, who are both Filipino immigrants, were impacted by this. They were reluctant to teach Camille their Filipino languages because a teacher told her parents they couldn’t understand her accent and advised her parents to stop using any foreign languages at home. While a former teacher’s suggestion was meant to de-language Camille of her parents’ mother tongues, it instead continues to fuel her current work as a doctoral candidate in multilingual teacher education with commitments to teaching, training future teachers and sustaining multilingual learning in U.S. classrooms and beyond. 

Camille is looking forward to finally having a funded pathway back to her parents’ homeland and also to finishing her doctoral degree and completing the last half of her dissertation research at her mother’s own alma mater – the University of the Philippines-Diliman. 

Camille will learn from university programs that train future teachers to sustain the various Filipino languages. She plans to utilize her learnings and maintain connections with UP-Diliman and Philippines-based multilingual educators as she completes her doctorate and apply for assistant professorships in multilingual teacher education in the United States. 

Larisa Ozeryansky

Doctoral Student, Transnational Migrant Health and Global Governance

Larisa will be conducting research in Norway on health experiences with refugees from Ukraine. The health scope of this work includes aspects of belonging, identity, healthcare access and health perceptions and behaviors. There is also a large component of her research on the role of time and physicality in nature (such as hiking) on wellness, coping and refugee incorporation.  

Over and over, Larisa felt like local culture and ways of being were being bulldozed to meet externally set goals. She wanted to study the way that society, culture and governance interacted to influence people’s health experiences, and people forced to move across places with potentially very different cultures, languages, policies, etc. seemed to be a dynamic and important population to study. Larisa’s family are also refugees, and life-long exposure to their stories and mediating life with aspects of a first-generation, American identity certainly made an impression on her about privilege and differential hardship and experience.  

Larisa is eager to immerse in Norwegian and Scandinavian lifestyle, culture, egalitarian and gender-equal values and nature. Also, the way that refugees are accepted and supported in Norway is chief amongst her interests in terms of how the country treats humans and functions in community – she is looking forward to learning from these examples and bringing those lessons forward.  

She hopes to continually improve on supportive programs and policies for refugees at a multi/trans-national level. This might look like applying research-based methodology at a think tank or other social-impact institution, or a more creative application. 

Fulbright fellow Hannah VanBenschoten checks in from Sweden

Traveling internationally during the pandemic has not been easy for many people, but despite Sweden’s travel ban, Fulbright Scholar Hannah VanBenschoten was able to use a student visa to study in Stockholm. A UW bioengineering Ph.D. student, Hannah flew to Sweden in mid-January 2021 and has been studying at the Karolinska Institute.

Hannah was awarded the Fulbright grant in 2020. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering grants for U.S. students to undertake individually designed international graduate study projects, advanced research, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. During their grant period, Fulbright students participate in a cultural exchange as they live with and learn from their host communities. The Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries and annually offers about 2,000 grants.

Read about Hannah’s time in Sweden

Two graduate students named Fulbright Fellows 2019–20

The Fulbright scholarship program is the largest U.S. international exchange opportunity for students to pursue international graduate study, advanced research and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. For the past several years, the UW has been named a top producer of Fulbright students and scholars, ranked by the Chronicle of Higher Education each February.

For 2019–20 academic year, two graduate students were among the 16 UW students and alumni awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships:

Joyce Maria Nimocks, Master of Social Work ‘18
Scholar, Brazil, Research

Joyce Maria Nimocks, artistically known as ‘JOY MA’, is a Black, femme, interdisciplinary artist and scholar who grew up on the Southside of Chicago with roots in Sunflower, Mississippi. She primarily works through sound, creative writing, and performance. JOY MA is passionate about bridging the arts, community organizing, and education for racial, gender, and disability justice.

After enrolling at UW’s School of Social Work, JOY MA began organizing parties and events for people of color identifying within the LGBTQ community in Seattle. Through this work, she became more involved in music production and has since become one of the artistic directors for PlayThey, an artist collective and production company centering Black, POC, trans, and disabled artists throughout King County. She also recently scored a performance titled Lover of Low Creatures about a Black, mixed-race, disabled girl growing up in a small, predominantly white, forest town in New Jersey. Lover of Low Creatures was featured in a disability justice performing arts festival hosted at Performance Space New York in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art. The full length show was debuted at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle.

JOY MA is the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship to study the intersections of sound art, activism, and performance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the upcoming year. JOY MA plans to pursue her doctoral degree in Performance Studies after returning from the Fulbright program.

Padraic Casserly, Master’s student, Technology Innovation (GIX)
Scholar, Mauritius, Research

Padraic has always been interested in global development. His fascination with the field began when he studied abroad in Senegal, West Africa as a junior in college. Because he grew up with a chronic medical condition which required regular treatment, he recognized that his life would have been much more challenging had he been born in Senegal. This realization gave him a sense of purpose to address global inequalities in healthcare.

After this experience, he joined and led student organizations at the University of Wisconsin including Engineering World Health and Engineers Without Borders. He traveled back to Africa after obtaining his undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical engineering to apply his skills and knowledge. Prior to enrolling in the new Technology Innovation graduate program at the University of Washington, he spent three years teaching biomedical engineering courses at Jimma University in southwestern Ethiopia. As an instructor, he worked with a team of Ethiopians to research and develop important medical devices for the surgical department at the university’s teaching hospital.

Padraic joined the UW’s collaborative Global Innovation Exchange and started his second round of graduate education. For his thesis research, he is exploring a new approach to measuring groundwater. In Mauritius, the host country of his Fulbright Research grant, he hopes to deploy his new technology for the benefit of water resource managers on the island. His goal is that this technology helps the government more sustainably manage their declining groundwater supplies.