13 UMTC students and alumni receive Fulbright Awards

April 28, 2017
A University of Minnesota banner hanging in Northrop Mall

Thirteen students and alumni of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus have been awarded grants to study and teach abroad during the 2017-18 academic year by the Fulbright U. S. Student Program. Another has been selected for the Fulbright-related U.S. Teaching Assistant program in Austria, and four more have been designated as alternates and may yet receive Fulbright funding.

Undergraduates and Alumni awarded Study Grants and English Teaching Assistantships
Talia Anderson, who graduated in 2016 with degrees in Geography and Spanish Studies, will spend a year in Chile working with Dr. Duncan Christie at the Universidad Austral de Chile. They will be collecting and analyzing tree-ring data in the Chilean Altiplano in order to describe historic water resource availability in the region. By creating a fuller picture of past hydrological conditions, they will be able to assess how the ecosystem will respond to climate change. Anderson is a former Talle Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and a graduate of South High School in Minneapolis.

Kyle Armstrong of Neenah, Wisconsin graduated in 2016 with a BFA in Graphic Design. Last year he was awarded a Fulbright teaching assistantship in Turkey, but the program was cancelled due to political instability. Undeterred, Armstrong applied again this year and was awarded a grant to teach in Taiwan.   While studying abroad in Turkey, he taught English at a community center in Istanbul and he has been a summer camp leader with Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade. At the University of Minnesota, Armstrong has done design work for the College of Science and Engineering and Center for Spirituality and Healing, and he expects to find further design inspiration in the traditions of Chinese culture.

Sydney Carlson of St. Paul, a senior majoring in Child Psychology, has been awarded a US Teaching Assistantship by the Austrian Government. This program, funded by the Ministry of Education is administered by Fulbright Austria. In high school, Carlson participated in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange and spent a year in Germany, where she had the opportunity to help teach English to younger students. More recently, she has been working in the Discovery Club afterschool program in St. Paul Public Schools. When she returns from Austria, Carlson plans to complete a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and work as a school psychologist.

Jordan Ecker, a senior from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in English and Global Studies will teach English next year in Korea. The daughter of an Army officer, she has lived in Korea, Germany, and various places in the United States. At the University of Minnesota, she has played clarinet in the Pride of Minnesota Marching Band, worked as a peer adviser in the Learning Abroad Center, and played intramural soccer. She would like to continue to live and teach abroad for a few years before returning to the United States to complete a graduate program in International Affairs.

Alexandra Johnson, an American Indian Studies major from Hopkins who graduated in 2016 with a concentration in Ojibwe Language, will study Linguistics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. A 2015 Udall Scholar, Johnson has been active in the study and revitalization of indigenous languages. She has collected and translated the stories of Ojibwe elders and is currently a teaching fellow in the Ojibwe language program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. In New Zealand she hopes to learn from the success of the Maori people in preserving their language.

Nick Ott, a senior from Brown Deer, Wisconsin completing degrees in Marketing and German, will teach English next year in Germany. He has previously lived in Germany as an exchange student while in high school, and he studied in Cologne for a semester in college. At the University of Minnesota, he has been a teaching assistant for German classes, and he has taught swimming and other recreational activities in summer camp programs. Ott expects to gain more teaching experience and German fluency while abroad and then return to Minnesota and complete a Master’s degree to teach high school German.

Lucas Paulson of Mercer, Wisconsin is a senior majoring in English and Global Studies. A Talle Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts, he has managed web content for openGlobalRights, interned with the International Institute of Minnesota, and served on the student advisory board to the Human Rights Program. He has worked as a tutor in the Writing Center and as a classroom assistant at Venture Academy, and he will spend next year as an English Teaching Assistant in Colombia. When he returns he expects to continue his studies in law or education.

Pashoua Vang, a 2015 graduate from St. Paul, will teach English in Malaysia. She began studies in Chinese in Middle School and won a National Security Languages Youth Scholarship to study in Taiwan. While majoring in Asian Languages and Literatures and Global Studies, Vang was a leader of the Hmong Student Association at the University of Minnesota and one of the founders of the Hmong Minnesota Leadership Conference. Since her graduation, she has worked at the China Center on campus and she plans to continue a career in international education after her Fulbright year.

Han Yong Wunrow, a senior Math major from St. Paul, will teach English in Korea. Born in Korea and adopted at an early age, Wunrow has maintained ties to Korean culture by participating in traditional Samulnori drumming and studying abroad at Pohang University of Science and Engineering. At the University of Minnesota, he has worked as a teaching assistant in the Talented Youth Mathematics Program, served as an officer on the CSE International Ambassadors Board, and is currently president of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. A successful participant mathematical modeling competitions, Wunrow plans to complete graduate study in Health Metrics after his year in Korea.

Two additional alumnae have been named as alternates:
Kayla Anderson, a 2016 graduate in Anthropology, to teach English in Cote d’Ivoire
Renae Rodgers, a 2012 graduate in History and French, to teach English in Morocco

Graduate Students Receiving Fulbright Scholarships in 2017-18
Hannah Baxter, ‘17M.Ed. with a concentration in Second Languages and Cultures, will spend the 2017-18 academic year teaching English in Bavaria, Germany. She has completed the required coursework for getting Minnesota K-12 teaching licenses in both German and English as a second language and plans to pursue a teaching job upon her return to the U.S. Baxter received a B.A. in German from the University of Minnesota in 2016.

Jacqueline Daigneault, Ph.D. student in Geography, will spend the upcoming academic year in the West African nation of Togo. Her dissertation research explores the recent emergence of state investments in economic infrastructure in the rural north of Togo. Through an ethnographic study of the Bassar marketplace, she investigates the social, economic, and political impacts of new infrastructures in the everyday lived experiences of a socially diverse market trader community. Daigneault received a B.A. in English Literature and Woman’s Studies from McGill University in 2005 and a M.A. in International Development from Clark University in 2014.  

Kiley Kost, Ph.D. candidate in Germanic Studies, will spend the 2017-18 academic year at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany and will conduct archival research at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach. Her dissertation, “Telling Time in the Anthropocene: Geologic Narration in German Fiction after 1945,” will investigate representations of geologic change in literary texts by three prominent writers (Max Frisch, Peter Handke, and Jenny Erpenbeck). Kost received a M.A. in Germanic Studies in 2014 and a B.A. in German Studies and Global Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2010.      

Ashwini Srinivasamohan, Ph.D. student in Geography, received a Fulbright Grant to analyze 'informal' plastic recycling from two dumps in Chennai, India. While policymakers continue to defer to technological solutions, such as waste-to-energy plants that burn plastic to make energy, there is a critical resource at hand that has yet to be harnessed to deal with the more than 5,000 tons of trash produced daily in Chennai: informal plastic recycling at the dumps. Srinivasamohan’s study will answer the following questions: How is plastic recycling managed currently by the ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ sectors in Chennai? Where do they intersect and depend on one another to effectively function? How do the socioeconomics and geographies of the two dumps impact plastic recycling? Srinivasamohan graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies in 2011 and from Yale University with a MESc (Master's of Environmental Science) in Environmental Anthropology in 2014. 

Jason Thomas, a Ph.D. student in Plant Biological Sciences, will join a research group at the Plant Reproduction and Development laboratory located at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France. The focus of his research is field pennycress, an overwintering biodiesel feedstock source that can also be a nutritional resource for pollinators. The laboratory in France will allow him to collaborate with scientists with expertise in the genetics of floral scent and size. Thomas received a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2014.  

Two additional students have been named alternates:
Amelia Shindelar, ‘17MPP, for Fulbright Clinton Fellowship to Malawi
Amanda Taylor, PhD candidate in English to do research in Italy

The Fulbright Program was created and funded by Congress in 1946 to promote international good will through the exchange of students and scholars in all areas of education, culture, and science. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Current undergraduates and recent graduates who are interested in applying for the Fulbright Student Program or Austrian USTA Program should contact Timothy Jones in the University Honors Program, natschol@umn.edu or 612-624-5522. Graduate students should contact Alison Skoberg in the Graduate Fellowships Office, gsfellow@umn.edu or 612-624-7579.

Media Contacts

U News main line
Unit: 
News Service
Phone: 
(612) 624-5551
Email: 
unews@umn.edu