Eight MIT students accept 2015 Fulbright grants

Grantees will spend the 2015-2016 academic year abroad, conducting research or academic studies.


Five graduating seniors and three graduate students have accepted Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to conduct independent research projects or teaching assistantships next year.

In addition to the MIT students accepting Fulbright grants, three applicants from MIT won but declined their grants due to conflicting opportunities, and one applicant was named as an alternate for the Fulbright grant.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the United States government’s flagship exchange program, providing grants for research, study, and teaching in more than 140 countries around the world. The grants support projects in these countries for the length of an academic year. The 2015-2016 Fulbright recipients from MIT will carry out research projects or teaching assistantships in Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, Italy, India, Bahrain, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Japan.

Kristen Cotner, who hails from North Carolina, will use her Fulbright grant to conduct research at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany. She will graduate this spring with a BS in biological engineering. Cotner will study how helper T cells, which play an important role in immune response, differentiate into a range of cell types. This work will build on research Cotner has done this year in the Lauffenburger Research Group at MIT. Cotner has also conducted research on drug delivery systems at the Langer Lab at  MIT and has studied musculoskeletal diseases at the Institute's Grodzinsky Lab. Upon completing her Fulbright fellowship, Cotner will pursue a doctoral degree in biological engineering.

Kelly Heber Dunning, from Florida, will use the Fulbright fellowship to study community-based coral reef management in Malaysia. Heber Dunning is currently a doctoral student studying ecosystem science and policy at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and is a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Marine Policy Center. She has received an MS in environmental policy from Oxford University, and a BA in political science from the University of Florida. Heber Dunning is interested in how community stakeholders can protect coral reefs in Malaysia, and the Fulbright will allow her to conduct doctoral research in this area.

Grace Kim is completing a PhD in science, technology, and society at MIT. With the support of a Fulbright grant, she will go to Italy to study how techniques from chemistry, biology, and physics are used in preserving art and cultural heritage artifacts. Kim holds an AB in history and science from Harvard University and an MPhil in history, philosophy, and the sociology of science, technology, and medicine from Cambridge Univeristy. Kim will visit three laboratories across Italy to observe how scientists use laser light, colloids, and bacteria in cultural artifact preservation. She is interested not only in how these technologies are used, but in the significance of Italian cultural heritage for the public and the scientific community.

Kevin Kung grew up in Taiwan and Canada before moving to the U.S. to complete his undergraduate degree in engineering physics at Princeton University. He subsequently received an MPhil in physics at Cambridge Univeristy and is now completing a doctorate in bioengineering and management at MIT. Kung, who is interested in sustainable technology in the developing world, will use the Fulbright award to collaborate with engineers and entrepreneurs in India to develop an affordable kiln that produces charcoal from waste products. This project builds on work Kung has done in Kenya. His interest in international development has also led Kung to work with Engineers Without Borders in Uganda and Ghana.

Sarah McMillian, from Kensington, Maryland, will travel to Bahrain, where she will spend part of her time as an English teaching assistant and will also study and volunteer with local entrepreneurial initiatives. McMillian, who will graduate this spring with a BS in mechanical engineering, has developed an interest in entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. She has studied entrepreneurship in Cape Town, South Africa, and will spend this summer doing similar research in Amman, Jordan. McMillian has also taught product design and English to Palestinian high school students through MISTI Global Teaching Labs. When she returns to the U.S., McMillian plans on attending graduate school.

Julia Sun immigrated to the U.S. as a child and grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota. After graduating from MIT this spring with a BS in chemical engineering, Sun will use her Fulbright grant to do research in regenerative medicine at Imperial College London. Sun is interested in developing better treatments for chronic wounds and has spent several years doing undergraduate research in this area, working in the Hammond Lab at MIT. She has also done research on microfluidic devices at Caltech as an Amgen Scholar. When Sun returns to the U.S. after completing her Fulbright research, she will pursue training as a physician-scientist.

Christina Tringides, who is of Cypriot heritage, grew up in Iowa. The Fulbright fellowship will allow her to conduct a year of research at the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland. Tringides is interested in developing personalized neuroprosthetics for spinal cord injury survivors. This work builds on bioelectronics research Tringides has done in the Anikeeva Lab at MIT and with the Melosh Lab at Stanford University. Upon completing her Fulbright fellowship, Tringides will enroll in a doctoral program through which she can continue to work at the intersection of engineering and neuroscience.

Brandon Wright, from Massachusetts, will travel to Japan to study female-led entrepreneurship and the evolving landscape of women in the workplace. Wright will graduate this spring with a BS in mechanical engineering and a minor in Japanese. His interest in Japanese culture has led him to study the Japanese language, and he has spent the last two summers as an engineering intern in Japan. This past summer he worked with the IHI Corporation in Yokohama, and in 2013 he worked with Daikin Industries in Osaka. The Fulbright fellowship will allow Wright to develop a greater understanding of the Japanese workplace, and particularly the evolving role of women in entrepreneurship.


Topics: Global Education and Career Development, Awards, honors and fellowships, Students

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