This year, nine Stony Brook University students were awarded finalist status by the Department of State’s prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program, a highly competitive opportunity that provides funding for American students to study, research, or teach English in more than 140 countries overseas. An additional three students achieved alternate status, which is essentially an honorable mention with the opportunity to travel if funding becomes available.
“I am extremely proud of our future Fulbrighters, the community of Stony Brook faculty and staff who supported their applications, and the wonderful ongoing research and teaching work happening on our campus that provides the meaningful experiences applicants need to be successful,” said Ashley Staples, director for external fellowships. “I am excited to send these students out from Stony Brook as cultural ambassadors and can’t wait to hear about how their time abroad impacts them and their work.”
The Fulbright Program was created in 1946 with the ambitious goal to foster mutual understanding that supports friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Annually, the Fulbright program provides grants for international education-related experiences to foster global partnership and cultural exchange. In 2023, Stony Brook was named as a “Top Producer” for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the second time.
At Stony Brook, the external fellowships office partners with faculty and staff across campus to support student and alumni Fulbright applications. The office hosts a summer advising program and provides committee interview and feedback sessions. In recent years, the SBU Writing Center has supported the application process by providing feedback to applicants as they draft and revise their materials. They help to ensure candidates are communicating clearly how they will benefit from the award, how their presence will benefit communities overseas, and how they will build mutual understanding and foster lasting relationships across borders.
“It’s an honor working with this population of students, who are deeply invested and recognize the value of peer feedback for high stakes writing,” said Jennifer Albanese, director of the campus writing center and a member of the Fulbright committee. “Our collaboration with external fellowships has impacted candidates’ success and added value to the campus community by helping train our writing center tutors, who work with students across campus on similar statements for graduate and professional school applications.”
This year’s Fulbright finalists are: Michael Bennett, Fulbright Research Award to Italy; Kate Blackwell, Fulbright Research Award to Norway; Avery Morris; Fulbright Research Award to the Czech Republic; Danielle Ramirez, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Brazil; Grace Wivell, Fulbright Research Award to Indonesia; Justin Chan, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Taiwan; Bromina Rani, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to the Czech Republic; Rachel Jones, Fulbright Research Award to India; and Nadine Areikat, English Teaching Assistant to Jordan.
The two alternates are Kurt Butler, Fulbright Research Award to Spain, and Daniel Ofer-Moran, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Serbia.
“This year’s cohort of Fulbright applicants are the perfect example of the impressive breadth of SBU students’ research, service, and innovation,” said Kathleen Flint Ehm, assistant dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Initiatives in the Graduate School. “It’s been an honor for our team to support them, and I’m delighted that our awardees will now be able to share their talents with the world.”
Students interested in applying for a Fulbright for 2024 can learn more by visiting the External Fellowships and Scholarships website.
— Nicole Dona
Click on the name or scroll to read the student profiles:
Hometown: Moss Bluff, Louisiana
Program: PhD in Critical Music Studies
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Judith Lochhead, Stephen D. Smith and August Sheehy (Music Department); Loredana Polezzi (Italian Studies)
Bennett applied for his Fulbright award in order to accomplish archival research throughout Italy for his dissertation. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to conduct his research while also engaging in social, cultural, and culinary life in Rome and furthering his Italian skills.
Bennett earned a Guiliano Fellowship in the Fall of 2022, which enabled him to do archival work in Basel, Switzerland.
Hometown: Oakton, Virginia
Program: PhD in Ecology and Evolution and Certificate in Data and Computational Science
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Heather Lynch (PhD Advisor), Natasha Vitek (Committee Member),Liliana Davalos (Committee Member), Lesley Thorne (Committee Member) and Arnaud Tarroux (Fulbright Mentor)
Blackwell’s Fulbright work will contribute original research to her PhD dissertation, and she is excited to finally work in-person with her Fulbright mentor Dr. Arnaud Tarroux. Not only will she be developing her research skills, but she also looks forward to partaking in lunch discussions and workshops focused on integrating science and management while at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) via its participation in the Fram Centre’s AMINOR, a research collaboration of 20 Norwegian institutions. She is extremely excited for this opportunity where she will learn from researchers and policymakers all over Norway, and share her unique perspective as a U.S scientist.
Outside of her research, Blackwell looks forward to joining a local hiking group to see more of Tromsø and the surrounding countryside, the “Gateway to the Arctic”. On campus at SBU, Blackwell is a member of the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) as their senator for the Ecology and Evolution Department. She is also on the GSO’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. This year, she has also received the University of Washington Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics (SISG) Scholarship, a Southern Ocean Observing System Symposium (SOOS) Travel Award and Oral Presentation, and Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Travel Award and Oral Presentation.
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Program: Doctorate of Musical Arts in Violin Performance
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Jennifer Frautshi (Performance Artist-in-Residence), Erika Honisch (Critical Music Studies), Hagai Shaham (Performance Artist-in-Residence)
Morris applied for a Fulbright Study Research Award to research Czech Modernist composer and Holocaust victim Gideon Klein (1919-1945). Mostly known for his final works composed in the arts concentration camp Theresienstadt (Terezín), many of his earlier musical works are underexplored. The primary reason for this is clear: Klein’s earlier works were lost for over 50 years and then found in a suitcase in the attic of a house in Prague in the 1990s. Currently housed at the Jewish Museum in Prague, several of these pieces have never been performed. Morris looking forward to working closely with these primary source materials, and through transcription, analysis and performance — bringing these lost pieces to life in Prague, the city in which they were created over 80 years ago. She is grateful for the support of her affiliate, Dr. Iva Oplištilová at The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (HAMU).
This summer, Morris will be teaching MUS101: Introduction to Western Classical Music as a summer course. Previously, she has been part of the Stanford University String Quartet Seminar Fellowship, and is looking forward to spending this summer performing as a member of the Vogelsang Quartet, as a Maine Chamber Music Seminar Violin Fellow, and as an Icicle Creek Chamber Music Institute Fellow.
Hometown: White Plains, New York
Major: Health Sciences (Bachelor of Science with cum laude distinction), ‘23
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Traci Thompson (Department Advisor), Kathleen McGoldrick and Sharon Cuff (Research Mentors).
Ramirez, as an Afro-Latina, is excited to experience Brazil due to her connection with the Latino coastal culture. She looks forward to potentially working with the Brazilian deaf population who use LSCB, which stands for Língua de Sinais das Cidades Brasileiras (or ‘Brazilian Cities Sign Language’), during her grant. Currently, Ramirez is part of the social media team for SBU Biomedical Engineering Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Team, as well as a contributing member of the Health Science Spirit Committee.
This year, Ramirez has also received a Nominee for Student Employee, Intern, and Community Service Awards Ceremony, and was a winning recipient for the ADELANTE! PepsiCo award for the Bubly’s Brand Growth project targeted at Latinos across the U.S.
Hometown: Upstate New York
Major: PhD Linguistics, ‘25
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Robert Hoberman and Lori Repetti
Wivell applied for her Fulbright to continue the work she has been doing virtually throughout the pandemic with the Lio-speaking community of Wolondopo, Flores.
She has been working to document their language and stories of cultural import. She is most excited to return to Flores in person and work with people in-person once again, something she has not been able to do since 2019.
On campus, Wivell is the Event Coordinator of the Decolonization and Antiracism Group (DAG). She is a 2022 recipient of the Turner Dissertation Award.
Hometown: New York, New York
Major: Political Science (Honors), Minor in Technological Systems Management
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Cynthia Davidson, Regina Good, Jeffrey Segal and James Corcoran
Chan received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to teach English in Taiwan, but declined the award to attend the University of Oxford for the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice program.
He is the founder and current president of the National Security and Global Affairs Organization (NSGAO), an officially recognized civil liberties and comparative government organization on campus that is part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Alliance. He is also the current Secretary of the Stony Brook Pre-Law Society. He was a recipient of the US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship in 2022, and also received the U.S. Department of State Gilman Scholarship in 2021.
Hometown: Hicksville, New York
Major: Political Science and Sociology
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Juliette Passer
Rani received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award to the Czech Republic. She is most excited about learning a new language and engaging in the culture of a country to which she has never been.
Rani looks forward to gaining a new perspective on the world. On campus, Rani was a commuter assistant and President of the Stony Brook Chapter of Leading Women of Tomorrow.
Hometown: Dix Hills, New York
Major: Biology and Minors in International Studies and South Asian Studies, ‘22
Departmental advisors/research mentors: S.N Sridhar and Kamal Sridhar (South Asian Studies Mentors), David Komatsu (Research Mentor)
For Jones, the Fulbright award will be an opportunity to expand her research portfolio internationally and pursue a project in public health. She will be researching the socio-economic impact of parental cancer on resilience in children under the guidance of oncologist, Dr Aju Mathew. She plans to further partner with Pallium India to extend the findings of their unique study and formulate social interventions to alleviate the secondary effects of cancer on children.
For the past three years, Jones has been working in an orthopedics research lab under Dr. Komatsu. On campus, through the INSPIRE program, she has served as a mentor for underclassmen hoping to pursue their own guided research on campus. In addition to all of this, she has been actively involved in volunteering with the Mattoo Center for India Studies. In 2022, she received the URECA summer fellowship to perform full-time research in an orthopedics lab under David Komatsu. Jones is also a recipient of the 2022 Vineet Johnsingh Memorial Scholarship in India Studies.
Hometown: Harrison, New York
Majors: Biology and Psychology, ‘23
Areikat’s interest in the Fulbright English teaching program stemmed from the mission of the organization to break down language and cultural barriers that divide groups of people around the world and her desire to be a bridge-builder between Western and Middle Eastern cultures.
In addition to her research, Areikat also serves as the President of Friends of MSF, an INSPIRE mentor, a volunteer at Stony Brook Medicine, a teaching assistant for the course Psychology of Women’s Health, and a URECA summer fellow. She has also earned the SUNY Chancellor Award for Student Excellence, won best undergraduate abstract in the Stony Brook Medicine Women in Medicine Research Symposium and was awarded undergraduate research of the month in December 2022.
Fulbright Alternate Candidates
Research Award to Spain
Hometown: Stony Brook, New York
Program: PhD Candidate in Electrical Engineering, ‘24
Departmental advisors/research mentors: Petar M. Djuric (PhD Advisor)
Butler has been working on using machine learning methods to process signals recorded from the brain and framed his Fulbright proposal around cutting-edge neuroscience research happening in Spain. Kurt is a member of the Stony Brook Graduate Student Organization.
English Teaching Assistant to Serbia
Hometown: Brookfield, Connecticut
Majors: Creative Writing, Philosophy, Sociology, ‘22
Daniel framed his Fulbright application around his desire to learn about a people and what they consider their place in the world, be it cultural, political, ecological, or spiritual. He sought to challenge his own sensibilities and planned to write about his experiences.