News Release

Fulbright awards offered to fifteen U of M students and alumni

Students walking near campus buildings and a large metal sculpture
Students stroll along the Scholar's Walk on the east bank of the Twin Cities campus.

Four seniors, six graduate students and five recent graduates of the University of Minnesota have been offered grants to study and teach abroad during the 2022-23 academic year by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and another four have been designated as alternates. The Fulbright Program was created and funded by Congress in 1946 to promote international goodwill through the exchange of students and scholars in all areas of education, culture, and science. The program awards approximately 1900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Lili Braatz

Lili Braatz of Appleton, Wisconsin, is a senior majoring in political science, global studies and Spanish. Braatz will assist in teaching English at a secondary school in Andorra. As a student of Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese, as well as Chinese, she is looking forward to living in the tri-lingual country and observing the interaction of its languages. She has been active on campus in the TandemPlus and International Buddy programs, as well as mentoring with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Students Promoting Inspiration, Resilience, and Empowerment and Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union student organizations. A 2021 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, Braatz plans to complete a graduate degree in international affairs after her Fulbright year and work as a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department.

Fisher Chu

Fisher Chu of North Oaks, Minnesota, graduated in December and majored in elementary education. Although she has made only a brief visit to Korea, Chu looks forward to participating in the South Korean educational system and expanding her experience with Asian cultures. She attended the Yinghua Academy Chinese Immersion school and has continued to work there and at the University’s Child Development Laboratory School. While studying abroad in Montpellier, France, she helped teach English in a local school, something she also did for a summer in Taiwan. Chu has taught in an adult education program in Minneapolis and tutored students in math at Justice Page Middle School with the University Honors Program. After her year in South Korea, she plans to complete a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and continue with her career as a teacher.

Carlie Cervantes de Blois

Carlie Cervantes de Blois, a doctoral student working with Professor Susan Jones in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine program, will carry out a historical analysis of technical and agricultural knowledge systems, transnational development and water ecology in Java between 1960-2000. She will conduct archival research in Malang as well as interviews in the towns nearby the Lengkong and Wonorejo dams to create an integrated history of development and better understand how these elements became entangled with Suharto's goals for rice self-sufficiency and transnational Cold War policy. A former McNair and Critical Language Scholar, Cervantes de Blois has spent two summers in Java and looks forward to returning to reunite with colleagues and promote ecological knowledge and sensitivity.

John Dieck

John Dieck, a doctoral student in history, will spend a year in Morocco studying evidence of the cannabis and tobacco trades under French colonialism. His research, directed by Professors Patricia Lorcin and Daniel Schroeter, demonstrates that colonial officials established a monopoly over tobacco and cannabis to help fund the colonial government. Trafficking of tobacco and cannabis around Morocco was perceived as a threat to protectorate stability, as were attempts by the League of Nations and, later, the United Nations to limit the circulation of cannabis. The Fulbright award will allow Dieck to further his Arabic studies in Meknes and divide his time between archives in Rabat, Tangier and Tetouan — which house records of the colonial administration as well as newspapers and journals from the period. Dieck will also work with faculty at the University of Moulay Ismail.

Elyse Eckert

Elyse Eckert of Sussex, Wisconsin, was studying abroad at Freie Universität Berlin in the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to return home early, like many of her peers. She will spend a year in Germany assisting in English language classes. Eckert is completing majors in political science and sociology and a minor in German, which she grew up speaking as the native language of her immigrant father. She tutored students through the University Honors Program in science and German at Murray Middle School and the Twin Cities German Immersion School, respectively. She also completed internships with the Advocates for Human Rights and the Irish Innocence Project and plans to complete a law degree after her Fulbright year. She is interested in international issues of human rights and immigration, and hopes to work with immigrant communities while in Germany. 

Qurat-ul-ain Gulamhussein

Qurat-ul-ain Gulamhussein, a doctoral student in psychology who is working with Professor Richard Lee, will conduct research in Jordan on mental health resources for women. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Jordan to further invest in mental health research and services, particularly for women. The Fulbright award will allow Gulamhussein to build a culturally sensitive measurement survey to assess how Jordanian women prefer to engage in mental health services. This survey will serve as a tool for women to fill out during initial healthcare appointments and communicate preferences towards mental health healing — including indigenous, holistic-based healing such as religious practices, folk medicine, and community sharing via arts and storytelling. Her doctoral dissertation will center Jordanian women's voices in how they define mental health, demonstrate agency in the face of psychological distress, and offer direct implications to support engagement in mental health services.

Annika Herdtle

Annika Herdtle, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, graduated in 2021 and has been offered an award to fund research at the German Primate Center at Göttingen University and Affenberg Park near Salem. An ecology, evolution and behavior major with minors in anthropology and wildlife handling, Herdtle has field experience tracking bird populations in northern California and assessing the impacts of road chemicals on bees in Minnesota. In the lab, she has assessed chimpanzee vocalizations, lizard mating behavior and GIS data on lion and baboon interaction. In Germany, she will study how social integration allows Barbary macaques to adjust to normally inhospitable climates for primates. Herdtle has spent the current academic year teaching at a secondary school in Austria and has also been awarded a Churchill Scholarship to complete a Master’s degree in zoology at the University of Cambridge.

Nadia Huffman

Nadia Huffman graduated in 2019 with a major in economics and will travel to Bulgaria to investigate the potential for the digitalization of small and medium-sized businesses. An honors graduate, Huffman led economics student groups and has worked for U.S. Bank, where she became aware of digitalization gaps in developing countries, particularly her mother’s native Bulgaria. With small and medium-sized businesses employing 75% of the workforce in Bulgaria, she was curious to learn what factors are hindering the digitalization of these enterprises. The Fulbright award will allow her to work with the University of Sofia to interview hundreds of business leaders and analyze the data with respect to EU statistics. After completing this project, Nadia plans to complete a Ph.D. in economics.

Gurtaran Johal

Gurtaran Johal of Fargo, North Dakota, will spend the year in Spain assisting with English language instruction. An honors student and senior majoring in political science and sociology, Johal has served on campus as the chair of the Twin Cities Minnesota Student Association’s Sexual Assault Task Force, Speaker of the Forum and Representative to the Board of Regents. At home in Fargo, she developed an online curriculum and taught basic life skills at the YWCA. She has served as a teaching assistant and research assistant in the Department of Sociology and was awarded a Truman Scholarship for leadership and public service. She will be assigned to a secondary school in Madrid, where she hopes to work with North African immigrants in particular. Following her Fulbright year, she will attend law school and begin a career in public interest law.

Benjamin Jorgenson

Benjamin Jorgenson, a candidate for a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in epidemiology, will enroll in microbiology and public health classes at the University of Copenhagen and study the urban microbiome — the community of microbes and viruses that live in an urban environment — of the Copenhagen Metro. As a member of Dr. Michael Poulsen’s research team, Jorgenson will analyze bacterial and viral samples taken from swabs of commonly touched surfaces in the Metro system, which will provide a picture of organisms encountered in daily life. As we have learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to raise awareness of the potential for the spread of disease through public transportation systems and to determine methods to slow that spread. Once he has completed his year in Denmark, Jorgenson plans to start a Ph.D. program in microbiology.

Katie Nichols

Katie Nichols of St. Paul, Minnesota, graduated in 2021 with a major in anthropology and a minor in German. She will complete a Master’s degree in European Studies at Europa-Universität Vladrina, where she will conduct research on the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland political party in Frankfurt. As a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange participant for the year before enrolling at the University, she admired how German society worked to come to terms with its violent history but also observed growing divisiveness. As an anthropology major, Nichols became interested in instances of conflict over historical memory and responsibility, including in her own sorority. With an additional four years of experience, she will return to Germany to conduct interviews and assess political rhetoric in order to understand the roots of the shift in party allegiance. After completing her degree, she plans to enter law school.

Juliet Paulson

Juliet Paulson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, graduated with honors in 2021, majoring in history, anthropology, Asian & Middle East studies. She will spend the next two years completing a Master’s degree in Asian Studies at National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan supported by a Fulbright award. She assisted with curriculum development at the University of Minnesota in history and Asian languages and also served as a History Day mentor and Chinese Flagship program ambassador. Mentored by Professor Ann Waltner, Paulson studied women’s writing in late imperial China, work which was awarded a prize by the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs. She has worked as a research intern with the Taiwan NextGen Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. At National Chengchi University, she will investigate the historical construction of Chinese and Taiwanese identities and then continue her studies in a  Ph.D. program.

Julian Robles

Julian Robles, a Master of Fine Arts student in creative writing, planned to become a doctor but committed himself to storytelling instead. His Fulbright award will allow him to travel to Mexico City to conduct research for a novella that centers on mid-century rural migration. With mentorship from the faculty of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Robles will undertake archival and public records research to explore the economic turmoil that struck Mexico in the 1980s. This history will provide context for the story of three generations of a Mexican family and their migrations from rural Guerrero to Mexico City, and later to the U.S. At the University of Minnesota, Robles studied with Professors Julia Schumacher and Douglas Kearney, co-founded Poetry Online and coordinated the Mill City Reading Series.

Vanessa Voller

Vanessa Voller, a graduate of the Humphrey School and doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership Policy and Development with a focus on global public health, will study the effectiveness of the 2008 Ministerial Declaration of Preventing through Education signed by 30 Latin American countries. With the support of Fulbright, Voller will examine the extent to which comprehensive sexuality education and adolescent sexual and reproductive health services are implemented in the rural municipalities of Buena Vista, Bolivia, and Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica. Voller will also explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the provision of these services in public schools in both countries. This project will assist health and education sectors in redressing the health injustices and disparities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritize adolescent sexual and reproductive health. After completing her doctorate, Voller plans to enroll in medical school and continue practice and research in Latin America.

Rose Xiong

Rose Xiong of Blaine, Minnesota, graduated in 2021 with a major in Asian & Middle Eastern studies and Korean and will assist with English instruction in South Korean schools. Growing up as a Hmong American, she developed a fondness for readily available Korean media that portrayed a distinctly Asian experience. At the U of M, she set out to learn more about this culture, completing three years of language study and developing international friendships. Xiong also completed Teaching English as a Second Language certification and worked with children at the Hmong Academy and with adults at the International Education Center. After her Fulbright year, she hopes to find other English teaching opportunities in South Korea before continuing her education for teaching licensure.

Graduate students Alexandra Griffin (applied plant sciences), Abby Guthmann (ecology), Elizabeth Orr (organizational leadership), and 2019 graduate Joseph Waldvogel (finance) have been named as alternates for awards and may be able to go abroad if funding becomes available.

Current undergraduates and recent graduates who are interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program should contact Timothy Jones in the Office of National and International Scholarships, [email protected] or 612-624-5522. Graduate students should contact Marie Monter in the Graduate Fellowships Office, [email protected]

Media Contacts

Timothy Jones

Honors Program, Twin Cities

Christopher Kelly

University Public Relations