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For more than a decade, the Fulbright Scholar Program has recognized Amherst for its unusually high number of scholarship recipients. This trend has consistently placed the College high on the list of programs The Chronicle of Higher Education deems to be “top producers” of Fulbright scholars.

The fellowship is one of the most prestigious in the world, claiming among its alumni 43 Nobel laureates and 78 Pulitzer Prize winners. It operates in more than 155 countries, sponsored by the U.S. government to increase mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of other nations.

Some Fulbright scholars receive grants to conduct research or pursue a one-year master’s degree in a participating Fulbright country, or to do some combination of research and course enrollment. Other Fulbrights are awarded English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs) to aid in teaching English and U.S. culture to non-native speakers in classrooms abroad.

All grantees receive round-trip transportation to the host country, as well as room, board, living expenses and health benefits; some grants also include funding for research, enrichment activities, tuition, language study, pre-departure orientations and training in teaching English as a second language.

Five Seniors Won Grants to Pursue Science Research

Paul Maxum ’17
Maxum Paul ’18 was offered a Fulbright study grant for a project in Cachan, France on the interactions between proteins and nucleic acids—research that could someday help advance antiretroviral therapies. He majored in Biochemistry & Biophysics and French.  He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry and related fields. “In the long-term, I am interested in a career in industrial or academic research, and I would love to be involved in undergraduate or graduate-level education,” he said.

Phuong-Nghi Pham
Phuong-Nghi Pham ’18, a triple major in psychology, music and English, was offered a Fulbright to conduct a research project on “beat synchronization in the congenitally deaf.” To be conducted at the Ryerson University SMART Lab in Toronto, the project would involve collecting data on congenitally deaf people presented with tasks synchronized to beats. “I hope to contribute to the sparse perception literature on the congenitally deaf, as well as to the larger knowledge of our brain’s workings,” she wrote in her application. In Toronto she plans to also be involved with the CSMU 100 Choir Program, which offers singing and ear training for elderly adults who wish to slow down hearing loss. Following her Fulbright, she plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in music cognition and music theory.

Nicole Roberts
Nicole Roberts ’18 was offered a Fulbright to study the effect of sea otter recovery on shellfish populations and shellfish harvesting by Coastal First Nations in British Columbia. A double major in biology and environmental studies, she will analyze data collected along a sea otter gradient in First Nation areas to depict the abundance and distribution of the sunflower star and sea urchin. After that, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in marine ecology and conservation, and to work as a conservationist researcher. “I would like to lead projects that combine exploration, outreach and research, and transform my findings into creative stories that will inspire others to appreciate the marine environment,” she wrote.

Rowena Schenck
Rowena Schenck ’18 was offered a Fulbright to research climate changes in New Zealand. A biochemistry and biophysics major, she will head to the University of Otago, where she will look at the physical and chemical characteristics of New Zealand fjord cores, with the intent of recording carbon burial and wind variability—findings that can help predict climate changes. She plans to join the Otago Lacrosse Club and the school’s snow sports club.

Following her Fulbright, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in earth sciences, focusing on biogeochemistry of coastal environments and continental margins. Her long-term goals include teaching and research.

Natalie Sun
Natalie Sun ’18 was offered a grant in Taiwan, where she has proposed to work with scientists at the National Taipei University researching the impact of heavy metal pollution on wild carnivore populations. She plans to pursue a career as a veterinarian, specializing in exotic species or small animals, and providing care that integrates East Asian and Western medicine. She also plans to collaborate with policy makers to advocate for global animal rights and wildlife conservation.

Four seniors will be English Teaching Assistants:

Monica Nimmagadda
Monica Nimmagadda ’18 was offered an ETA in Malaysia. Following her Fulbright, this computer science and environmental studies major plans to attend graduate school, focusing on education policy in the United States.

Bailey Plaman
Bailey Plaman ’18, a double major in Spanish  and chemistry, was offered an ETA in Mexico. It is her first opportunity to visit the country, which she has studied for years, and she hopes to return with experiences to counter anti-Mexican attitudes in the United States. She eventually plans to pursue a career in teaching chemistry.

Sophia Salazar
Sophia Salazar ’18, a double major in political science and sociology, was offered an ETA in South Korea. “I am eager to learn more about the traditions and institutions that influence Korean culture in a South Korean context [by] volunteering with civic organizations and supporting local visual and performance artists,” she wrote in her application. She plans to attend law school after returning to the United States, with the intent of working as civil rights attorney in Southern California.

Zachariah Stern
Zachariah Stern ’18 was offered an ETA in Cyprus. A biology major from Nashville, Tenn., he looks forward to engaging with Cyprus’s multicultural history, and to teaching students the “quintessentially American” sport of Ultimate. His long-term plans include a career in pediatric medicine.

Alumni Winners

Maris Aebi
Maris Aebi ’16 was offered a Fulbright scholarship to complete the contemporary art history master’s program at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. While in the Netherlands, she plans to contribute to the university’s arts journal Kunstlicht, and also to intern at a local art museum and volunteer with We Are Here, an organization supporting refugees. At Amherst she majored in environmental studies art and art and the history of art.

Upon her return to the United States, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in art history, and ultimately to work as a curator or teacher.

Joshua Ferrer
Joshua Ferrer ’17 was offered a Fulbright to research how a 1996 change in New Zealand’s electoral system has affected politics in that country. A political science and music major at Amherst, he studied how proportional representation changed the incidence of partisan and restrictive election lawmaking. While in New Zealand, he plans to join the musical community in Dunedin, playing cello in the Collegiate Orchestra and in a small chamber ensemble, and also to join local hiking, religious and political groups.

After his Fulbright, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science, focusing on democracy studies, political sociology and public policy. His long-term goals include teaching and research, with an eye towards working with policy think tanks.

Kiana Herold
Kiana Herold ’17 was offered an ETA in Germany. She majored in law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst. In the past, she has volunteered with efforts to integrate immigrants in Austria, and she plans to continue that work in Germany. Following her Fulbright, she plans to study either international relations or the law.

Daniel Navas
Daniel Navas ’17, a German major, was offered an ETA in Germany. After his Fulbright year, he plans to pursue either a master’s in education or a Ph.D. in German studies.

Jesus Zuniga
Jesus Zuniga ’14 was offered an ETA in Spain. Currently a volunteer with the organization LitWorld, which runs literacy-based extracurricular clubs, he plans to start a LitClub in his host school. He majored in economics at Amherst and hopes to pursue a master’s in education and/or business, with the ultimate goal “to create more international curricula, use technology to bring globalization to the classroom and make the liberal arts more accessible to young students.”


Two others from Amherst are Fulbright alternates. Decisions for these candidates will be made later in the spring.

Surya Adams
Surya Adams ’18 is an alternate for an ETA. Adams, a double major in French and philosophy, plans to pursue a career in the health sciences. She is considering practicing medicine abroad, and work as an ETA would prepare her for working with people from other cultures.

Maria Elena Marione
Maria Elena Marione ’16 is an alternate for a research grant in the Czech Republic, where she would study the relationship between space, language and identity among Czechs living in the former Sudetenland region. A theater and dance and English major at Amherst, she plans to pursue a doctorate in cultural studies, with concentrations in digital humanities and performance.