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Record 17 ASU students win Fulbright grants to study overseas


May 07, 2009

A record number of ASU students have won Fulbright awards to study abroad next year. Acceptances have been pouring in, with 20 students so far receiving the exciting news from 18 different countries.

Seventeen accepted the award, while three declined it to pursue other opportunities. Another student has received a separate Fulbright grant sponsored by the French government. ASU students are especially successful at winning these overseas study grants, partly because of ASU’s emphasis on global studies and foreign languages, and also because of the strong support of faculty mentors, says Janet Burke, director of the office of national scholarships and associate dean of Barrett, the Honors College. Half of the awardees are graduating this month from ASU with bachelor’s degrees in fields ranging from political science to education. The other half are master’s and doctoral candidates, bringing their expertise in chemistry, computer science, biology and literature to study topics in the different countries. Eight of the students will teach English. They will live for one year in countries that include Ecuador, Croatia, Argentina, Japan, Romania, Cyprus, South Korea, Norway and Romania. The majority are enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a handful from the Herberger School of Arts, the Fulton College of Education, the W.P. Carey School of Business and the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

Alexandra Anderson, receiving a bachelor’s in economics and political science, and Sarah Slagle, graduating in political science, both will travel to South Korea to teach English. Anderson, the editor of ASU’s Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, will help Korean students produce a literary publication in English and form a “journalism exchange” with Chaparral High School students.

Slagle plans to write her own freelance articles. Kristen Tovson, graduating with a master’s in dance, is headed to Germany to study and collaborate with Berlin-based contemporary dance artist Thomas Lehmen. She also hopes to serve as a cultural ambassador for American dance, cultivating future cultural exchanges. Robert Trevino, who is studying for his master’s in computer science, will conduct research on breast cancer at Lund University in Sweden, which has large hereditary breast cancer datasets. He hopes to advance the field by expanding on an innovative computational methodology for revealing signaling pathways in cancer cells. Uyen Tran, graduating in economics and global studies, will teach English in Vietnam and interview university students to gain their perspective of economic progress. As a first generation American with Vietnamese immigrant parents, she is fascinated by its unique development from war-torn country to economic success. Sarah Staton, who is working on her doctorate in chemistry, will go to Ecuador to track biodiversity by collecting and analyzing materials from the country’s rainforest, and help develop remote sensing technology. The project will increase our knowledge of the region’s ecological health and produce a new way to monitor changes. Grace Shigetani, graduating in global studies and religious studies, will spend a year in Croatia to study the social effects of the repatriation of the Serbs displaced during the Serbo-Croatian War in 1991-95. At ASU she helped develop a citizens’ exchange between Kosovo and Arizona, and she wants to pursue a career in conflict prevention and policy development. Marina Shapiro, who received a bachelor’s in English literature and Spanish two years ago, will teach English in Argentina. Having immigrated from Russia at the age of seven, she has used her own experience in teaching English as a second language at Sunnyslope Elementary, and she hopes to improve her skills. Brooke Schedneck, who is working on her doctorate in religions of Asia, will go to Thailand to study the similarities and differences between Buddhist practices in Thailand and the West. A dialogue between the two groups began with missionaries and colonialists, and they have continued an interchange across cultural boundaries. Courtney Rowland, graduating with a degree in secondary math education and a minor in Japanese, will travel to Japan to combine intensive Japanese language study with an in-depth analysis of secondary-level math instruction. Since Japan has been identified internationally as a leader in math education, she will analyze several classrooms to see what strategies might be adopted in America. Michael Teague O’Mara, who is studying for a doctorate in biological anthropology, will return to Madagascar, where he has received a number of previous research grants to study the endangered ring-tailed lemur. He will collaborate on a timely and critical project with other researchers to explore the effects of habitat degradation on the animal, which lives only in Madagascar’s forests. Ryan Meyer, who is working on a doctorate in science and technology policy, is headed to Australia to examine how government investments in climate science are linked to broader societal need. Australia faces similar challenges to the U.S. and is pioneering new approaches to climate science policy. Meyer is working with ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. Michelle McCrackin, working on her doctorate in biology, will go to Norway to study biological processes in Norwegian lakes that receive atmospheric nitrogen pollution from industrial areas of Europe. Human activities have increased levels of nitrogen pollution, which are carried long distances before being deposited as acid rain. Melissa Mapes, a State Press columnist who completed her bachelor’s in English in December, will teach English in Portugal at a university. She also hopes to create a portfolio of creative writing pieces and photographs reflecting Portuguese culture. Elyssa Ford, who is studying for a doctorate in history, will teach English at a university in Romania, where she also will assist Romanian students interested in studying in America. She also will work with a local museum, utilizing her skills in oral history. Mark Appleton, president of the Undergraduate Student Government at ASU who is graduating with a bachelor’s in history, will teach English in India. As a pre-med student, he also hopes to study natural medicine practices.Elizabeth Ridder, who is working on her doctorate in biogeography and environmental history, will travel to Cyprus to explore the effects of socio-economic changes on the Cypriot landscape since the country’s independence in 1960. She will use aerial photos, satellite imagery and field observation to study the complex interactions between the shift away from agricultural practices, biodiversity and socio-economic change.

Anna Consie, graduating in anthropology, has received a Fulbright sponsored by the French government to teach English in France. She also plans to do research into the foods of France that are classified as protected by the European Union, to understand the role of traditional cuisine in defining culture.