Category Archives: Foreign Fulbright
By Jet M. J. Vonk, 2013-2014, The Netherlands
When doing your Ph.D. on a Fulbright grant in New York, prepare for busy times. But, in a way, you probably wouldn’t want it any other way. I am busy with seminars, starting new projects and writing papers on ongoing projects so I can submit them for publication, among other things. And, I am busy meeting rock stars. Well, the scientific versions of them. In other words: my kind of heroes and celebrities.
The scientific community is a different world with its own idols. What are the similarities between scientific rock stars and traditional celebrities? Movie stars and musicians appear in magazines and tabloids researchers do, too, but those are called ‘scientific journals.’ People travel to meet and greet movie stars and musicians—researchers do, too, but those are called ‘conferences.’ And if you want to become someone important, you follow the example of your idol. It is not for nothing that I moved to New York on a Fulbright grant to work with Dr. Loraine Obler. She has been the hero of neurolinguistic research on language and the aging brain for decades. Yes, I am doing my Ph.D. with the scientific version of Madonna.
In a similar vein, scientific conferences are sort of comparable to the Oscars and Grammys. A few big shots are invited to perform as the main acts (read: give a spiel about their research). The rest of the program includes oral or poster presentations, and everybody brings each other up to speed about the latest ins and outs in research land. The venue is filled with major names that jovially greet each other. Every now and then, the minor names, like me, nudge each other while saying, “Look, there goes so-and-so. And hey, there’s that-one-guy.”
By Ernest Chivero, 2010-2013, International Fulbright Science &Technology Fellow from Zimbabwe
I came to the United States on an International Fulbright Science & Technology Award to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Iowa (Iowa) in 2010. Following a welcome reception hosted by the Iowa Chapter of the Fulbright Association and the University of Iowa International Programs office, an Iowan said, “Welcome to Iowa, we have both culture and agriculture!” My time as a Fulbrighter has indeed been a great cultural and academic experience – including getting to know the famous Iowa cornfields!
My academic experience at Iowa has been exceedingly fruitful and exciting. I have been studying how viruses interact with the immune system at the molecular level, and how findings can be translated into new, improved immune-based therapies. I have always wondered what happens when two pathogens infect the same host at the same time. I imagine it’s a fierce territorial battle! Our body is one such host in cases of HIV, GB virus C, Hepatitis C virus, or Tuberculosis co-infections. Dr. Jack Stapleton’s laboratory at Iowa has given me an opportunity to study why HIV-infected people co-infected with GB virus C survive longer than people who are only HIV-infected. To better understand GBV-C’s protective effects in HIV-infected people, I characterize immune cells targeted by GBV-C for infection and how their activation pathways and functions are affected. Our lab and others have shown that GBV-C infection reduces the activation of immune cells and I believe that understanding the mechanisms of GBV-C modulation of immune cell activation may lead to novel ways to treat HIV-induced immune activation and inflammation.
By Pamela Carolina Carrillo Sanchez, 2013-2015, Ecuador
I still have to pinch myself every morning when the bus brings me to Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York. A year ago, I was imagining how amazing it would be to work in a place where other scientists have been awarded seven Nobel prizes for their discoveries. Now, I’m no longer imagining what that experience would be like since my dream came true this past fall and I began my master’s in chemistry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Everything began back in 2012 when I was selected to become an Ecuadorian Fulbright Student, not knowing how this experience would change my life, but excited that it would allow me to do what I love: chemistry. Since my classes began, it has been quite the journey. Getting used to a new educational system, making new friends, and starting my research have made these past few months go by fast. Looking back, I realize just how much this experience has helped me to grow personally and academically.
By Brendan Cleary, 2013-2014, Ireland
I commenced my doctoral research in October 2011 focusing on the economics of wind power and large scale energy storage at Dublin Energy Lab, Dublin Institute of Technology, in Ireland. In July 2013, following a rigorous application and interview process, I was thrilled to be awarded the prestigious Fulbright-Enterprise Ireland Student Award. The award allows me to spend six months in New York (aka, the Big Apple) collaborating with the Center for Life Cycle Analysis (CLCA) at Columbia University. Initially, I formed a relationship with the CLCA back in February 2013. My Fulbright grant allows me to strengthen this relationship and to refine my research methodology with influential experts in energy related fields.