Eight from MIT awarded 2016 Fulbright grants

Grantees will spend the 2016-2017 academic year conducting research abroad.


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Scott Murray
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Global Education and Career Development (GECD)

Six MIT graduate students, one undergraduate, and a recent alumnus have accepted Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards to conduct independent research projects during the coming year. Another undergraduate was named a Fulbright Finalist but declined the award.

The 2016-2017 Fulbright Students from MIT will carry out research projects in Russia, the U.K., South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jordan, Samoa, Italy, and New Zealand.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. government and operates in over 160 countries worldwide. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The MIT winners are:

Christianna Bonin is a doctoral student in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program within the School of Architecture and Planning. She will spend her Fulbright year in Russia conducting research on Soviet architecture built between the two world wars, and the influence of foreign architects from Weimar, Germany.

Aurimas Bukauskas received a BS in architecture from MIT in 2015 and then spent a year as a Carroll Wilson Fellow researching whole-timber structural systems in the U.K., New Zealand, and Colombia. For his Fulbright award to the U.K., Bukauskas will be a visiting student researcher at the Hooke Park architectural program in rural Dorset, England. He will be exploring new systems of reinforcing buildings using whole-timber methods. 

Natalie Burgos recently graduated from MIT with a BS in chemistry. She will be spending the next year as a Fulbright Student in the organic chemistry labs at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Burgos will be working on the synthesis of novel antimalarial compounds.

Emily Gooding graduated from MIT this spring with an MS in technology and policy. She will use her Fulbright grant to conduct research at Panzi Hospital, which serves sexual and gender-based violence survivors from the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gooding will be developing operations research methods to increase patient capacity in culturally appropriate ways.

Omar Swei is a PhD student in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. As a Fulbright Student in Jordan, Swei will be designing an innovative software tool to help Jordanian transportation planners optimize maintenance on the country’s state-owned highway network.

Matthew Willner received this spring a Master of City Planning with a concentration in environmental policy planning from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Willner is the first MIT student to win a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. He will be working on climate policy with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa.

Sheila Xu graduated from MIT in 2014 with a BS in science, technology and society (STS), and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. Xu has received a U.S. Fulbright Student grant to Italy in Deafness Studies. She will be conducting research on the successes and challenges experienced by deaf Italian entrepreneurs.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Yarina earned a dual Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning degree this spring from the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. Yarina will use her Fulbright grant to research spatial mapping and policy implications of Pacific Islander migration to New Zealand. She will be focusing on Tokelaun and Tuvaluan immigrant communities in Wellington and Auckland.


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