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13 from MIT receive Fulbright scholarships

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Two recent MIT graduates and 11 current students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships to study abroad for the 2009-2010 academic year. This year's tally of 13 Fulbright winners is MIT's highest on record, eclipsing the nine MIT students who received the scholarships in 2003. Two MIT students were chosen as alternates, and one of those students - Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner - was accepted in June as the 13th student from MIT.

Fulbright scholarships have given students a role in U.S. foreign relations since their inception in 1946. More than 7,000 students apply for the program each year, and about 1,500 are selected based on their achievement and potential. Each grant covers the costs of travel abroad and living expenses for one academic year. The Fulbright scholarship winners from MIT are:

Koyel Bhattacharyya, who recently completed her SB in chemistry. She will travel to France to conduct electrochemistry research at l'Ecole Normale Superieure on the delivery of nanoquantities of ions and their role in the nanofabrication of molecular electronic devices, artificial photosynthetic system, organic light-emitting diodes, biosensors, and the study of many cellular functions.

Nathan Cisneros, a PhD student in political science, will travel to Japan to examine the persisting dualism between workers with job protection and good wages with those without such security, by examining bargaining incentives created by enterprise unionism. He will collaborate with Professor Nobuhiro Hiwatari of the University of Tokyo while in Japan.

Greg Distelhorst, a PhD student in political science. He will continue the research that he has begun under the tutelage of Richard Locke, the Alvin J Siteman (1948) Professor of Entrepreneurship and Political Science, and of Edward Steinfeld, an associate professor of political science, on China's global competitiveness and social policy. In China he will conduct fieldwork in two southern Chinese manufacturing centers to investigate how local government and private firms has responded to new laws that improve labor condition and expand worker rights while raising operational costs for employers.

Erica Dobbs, a PhD student in political science, will conduct her Fulbright research in the European Union. Using the knowledge she has gained both in her graduate program and her work for the Service Employees International Union, she will examine the role labor unions play in integrating recent immigrants into their communities in Ireland and Spain.

Nicholas DuBroff, a master's degree student in urban studies and planning, will travel to Mexico to examine urbanization of ecological conservation lands in Mexico City following a 1992 constitutional reform that allowed for the privatization of communally owned land called ejidos. While there he will collaborate with Professor Clara Salazar Cruz of El Colegio de Mexico.

Xaq Frohlich, a PhD student in the Program in Science, Technology and Society, will travel to Spain carry out further dissertation research. Frohlich is examining the globalization of the food market in relation to differences in international standards on food safety and risk, as well as cultural concerns about preserving local foodways. His main vehicle for this study is an analysis of the laws and science that influence food labeling.

Jennifer Furstenau, a PhD student in architecture, will continue research she began with Associate Professor John Ochsendorf in Switzerland with the Pantheon Project at the Univeritat Bern. The Pantheon Project has conducted extensive analysis of Roman dome technology but currently lacks an engineer to help advance the project. Furstenau will therefore assist their project and will further her own dissertation research on the structural integrity of historic masonry domes.

Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner, a PhD student in political science, will travel to India to complete her dissertation research on local governance institutions in rural India. She will investigate the different paths through which citizens access public infrastructure and services.

Anneka Lenssen, a PhD student in art history, will conduct research in Syria where she will investigate the artistic and intellectual movements of 1960-1980, a period when the state founded art institutions to support representation of a shared future. Through this study, Lenssen hopes to re-examine the relationship between modern art and society.

John Lopez, a PhD candidate in architecture history, will travel to Mexico to study the transformation of Mexico City from a pre-Columbian city to a colonial one via the desagüe, a public works project to drain six lakes surrounding the city to control flooding. The project was one of the largest engineering enterprises of pre-industrial society anywhere in the world.

Matt Orosz, a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Prior to Orosz's graduate program at MIT, he lived in Lesotho for two years as a member of the Peace Corps. During that time, he recognized Africa's potential to implement renewable energy sources. Next year he will travel to South Africa on a Fulbright to evaluate the technical, economic, and social applicability of solar technology for use in low-income housing.

Amanda Shing, who earned her SB in chemistry last year, was granted a Fulbright Scholarship in Malawi to research the viability of the Universal Nut Sheller (UNS), a low-cost, human-powered device designed to shell various nuts, reducing the labor and time needed to shell and raising the initial value of nuts for sale by local communities. Shing first worked with the UNS as a D-Lab student, and now plans to promote and improve the device.

Rebecca Woods, a PhD student in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, will travel to New Zealand to conduct her dissertation research. She will trace the history of several British livestock breeds from their localized origins within Britain in the early 19th century to distant new homes in New Zealand and North America, and finally back to Britain, where they are classified today as endangered "traditional" breeds.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 13, 2009 (download PDF).

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