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Eleven U. of I. students, recent alumni offered Fulbright grants

Karie Brown-Tess

Eleven University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students and young alumni have been offered student Fulbright grants to pursue international educational, research and teaching experiences across the globe this coming year.

As the flagship international educational exchange program of the U.S. government, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program builds international relationships to solve global challenges. Based on their academic and professional achievement as well as their demonstrated leadership potential, approximately 2,100 U.S. citizens will travel abroad for the 2018-19 academic year through the Fulbright program.

This year’s recipients from the University of Illinois:

Karie Brown-Tess

Karie Brown-Tess, of Warrenton, Missouri, and a graduate of Warren County R-III High School, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct doctoral research in Chile. She earned a B.A. in religious education from Missouri Baptist College and an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Illinois.  She is pursuing a Ph.D. in the College of Education, specializing in mathematics education. Her doctoral research will take place in Santiago, where she will analyze the implementation and impact of co-created teacher professional development programs, focusing primarily on a Japanese method called “lesson study.”  Her findings will contribute to the international discussion on best practices for mathematics education.  Brown-Tess plans for a career in academe conducting research on ways to improve the teaching of mathematics.

Pictured Above. (Photo by Lincoln Jones Photography)

Hannah Dougherty


Hannah Dougherty, of Paris, Illinois, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct graduate research on clean water subsurface tile drainage in New Zealand.  Dougherty earned a B.S. in crop sciences and in agricultural and consumer economics from Illinois and is pursuing an M.S. in crop sciences. Her master’s project focuses on water quality and treatment for nutrient runoff, particularly in the context of agriculture. In both New Zealand and the American Midwest, edge-of-field practices such as denitrifying bioreactors help to reduce the amount of nitrate (a nutrient present in cow manure and fertilizers) that makes its way into the local waterways.  For her Fulbright project, Dougherty will monitor and document the nitrate removal and internal hydraulic dynamics of a recently installed bioreactor treating drainage water from a dairy paddock near Hamilton, New Zealand.  In addition to her research, Dougherty intends to learn more about the Maori people and their relationship with agriculture and to engage with local farmers about their experiences and views of water quality.


(Photo by Amber Reudi)

Rachel Jacoby


Rachel Jacoby, of Vernon Hills, Illinois, and a graduate of Vernon Hills High School, has been offered an English teaching assistant Fulbright to Malaysia, where she will assist English teachers in high school classrooms and lead school-related English activities, clubs and teams. Jacoby earned bachelor’s degrees in accountancy and supply chain management in May 2018 from the Gies College of Business at Illinois as a James Scholar and a business honors student. She also graduated as a Chancellor’s Scholar from the Campus Honors Program. At Illinois, Jacoby was active as president of ActGreen, a green business-consulting organization, and as a financial consultant for Global Business Brigades, which led her to volunteer in Panama and Honduras. She also served as a teaching assistant for the business honors freshman course. Jacoby studied abroad in Malaysia for a week the summer after her freshman year and will return for 10 months to learn more about Malaysian start-up culture, which will inform her future work in the nonprofit and consulting sectors.

(Photo by Gies College of Business)

Nancy Karrels


Nancy Karrels, of Montreal, is a Ph.D. student in art and architectural history. She earned bachelor’s degrees from McGill University and an M.A. from John F. Kennedy University. Karrels has been awarded a Fulbright grant to undertake doctoral research in Paris. Her project examines the artistic effects of the influx of looted foreign artworks into French museums during the Napoleonic era. She will explore the display of plundered objects and the corresponding aesthetic responses by French artists to understand the role pillaged artifacts played in shaping early 19th-century art history. Karrels’ project contributes to the international discourse over stolen cultural patrimony in its historical and present-day manifestations. An avid cyclist, she also plans to ride through the regions at the center of her research – as well as the Longchamp circuit in Paris – and to connect with the local cycling communities through a shared passion for this historically French sport and the country’s geography. Her long-term professional goal is to pursue a career in museum curatorship.

(Photo provided)

Edgar Brian Mejia Vazquez


Edgar Brian Mejia Vazquez, of Mexico City, and a graduate of Colegio Mexico Bachillerato, has been offered a Fulbright grant to conduct research for 10 months in the United Arab Emirates. Mejia will work with faculty from United Arab Emirates University to research the mechanical properties of recycled polyethylene composites, a major plastic used in manufacturing, to make them more reusable after recycling. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Mejia grew up in Mexico before returning to the U.S. after high school to pursue English as a second language training and a higher education. Mejia received an associate degree from Harry Truman College prior to enrolling at Illinois, where he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering in May 2018. He has served as a research assistant at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois, the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and at Princeton University. Mejia eventually hopes to earn a doctoral degree in materials science to assist in further developing sustainable plastic composite materials throughout his career.

(Photo by Memory Lane Photography)

Hilary Brady Morris


Hilary Brady Morris, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Navan, County Meath, Ireland, is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology, specializing in ethnomusicology.  She earned B.A. degrees in music and French from the University of Arkansas in 2004 and a master’s of music, specializing in musicology, from Illinois in 2012.  She has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct 10 months of dissertation research in Nepal on the Himalayan lute. Her ethnographic study focuses on the intersections of music and belonging through investigating Himalayan lutes in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Boudhanath, Kathmandu. While abroad, Morris will also provide English-language tutoring and translation in local schools and monasteries.  She also seeks to volunteer with local organizations and facilitate cultural exchange through community outreach. Her long-term goals include an academic career in ethnomusicology and Himalayan studies, directing a music ensemble partnering with Himalayan guest artists and cultivating a student-exchange program.

(Photo provided)

Victoria Prince


Victoria Prince, of Chicago, and a graduate of Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English in Poland. Prince will assist in teaching various academic courses in English at a university. A master’s student in European Union studies, Prince also earned a B.A. in global studies from Illinois in May 2017. On campus, she was active as a member of the Polish Culture Club. Prince gained teaching experience as a James Scholar Honors Program peer-to-peer mentor, president of the Global Studies Leaders and president of the campus tutoring organization Vis-a-Vis, where she trained peers to serve as tutors in local elementary and secondary schools. She also worked as an English tutor while studying abroad in China for a semester. Prince has advanced knowledge of Polish, Chinese and Spanish, and hopes to use her linguistic and intercultural skills to serve the U.S. government in an ambassadorial role.

(Photo by Jacob Chacko)

Thomas Roadcap


Thomas Roadcap, of Champaign, Illinois, and a graduate of Champaign Central High School, earned a B.S. in civil and environmental engineering from Illinois and is pursuing an M.S. in that field.  He has been offered a Fulbright grant to conduct master’s research in Munich on railroad track safety and design. Several recent train derailments around the world have resulted from the failure of rail-fastening systems due to lateral and longitudinal track loads, and these have inspired Roadcap’s research. In typical railroad track, the fastening system is the component that holds the rails in place on the crossties. Through laboratory work, modeling and fieldwork, Roadcap hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the load environment of fastening systems, which will lead to improvements and prevent future train derailments. While in Munich, he also plans to participate in jazz performance, Bible study groups, a German language course and yoga classes, and to travel throughout Germany by rail to learn more about the nation and absorb the “user’s viewpoint” for his research. After completing a master’s degree, Roadcap plans to work in the railroad industry.

(Photo by department of civil and environmental engineering)

Brian Robinson


Brian Robinson, a May 2017 Illinois graduate in psychology and creative writing, has been offered a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to teach elementary and middle school students in Taiwan. Robinson, of La Grange, Illinois, began his studies of Mandarin Chinese at Lyons Township High School and continued for a year in college. At Illinois, Robinson served as a Counseling Center paraprofessional, where he led workshops on topics such as self-care, campus drinking culture and mental health. He also was active as an arts journal editor, a member of an improv team and a participant in a creative writing club. Robinson works as a behavioral health associate at Linden Oaks Hospital in Naperville, Illinois. After the Fulbright, Robinson plans to pursue further study in psychology and utilize his experience to better understand psychology’s cultural dimensions.

(Photo by Sean Robinson)

Jessica Romero


Jessica Romero, of Cicero, Illinois, and a graduate of J. Sterling Morton East High School, has been selected to represent the U.S. as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Brazil. She will spend nine months at a university instructing future English as a foreign language teachers. A May 2018 B.A. recipient with majors in Spanish and Portuguese, Romero gained instructional experience as an intern with the Intensive English Institute on campus and as a program assistant with Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange. Her Fulbright in Brazil will be her third trip to Latin America after having studied abroad in Costa Rica for a semester during her sophomore year and in Rio de Janeiro in fall 2017. In Costa Rica, Romero provided weekly English lessons at a local library and an elementary school. In Champaign-Urbana, she tutored children through the organizations Student Opportunities for After-School Resources and Vis-a-Vis. After the Fulbright, Romero seeks to continue her career as an educator teaching Latin American history.

(Photo by David J. Pollak)

Anna Waller


Anna Waller, of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, is pursuing a Ph.D. in food science and human nutrition.  She holds bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, Spanish and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.  Her research focuses on nutrition diagnostics, and she has received a Fulbright grant to conduct doctoral research in Mexico aimed at creating a portable diagnostic tool that can detect vitamin A in foods. This research will be particularly helpful for improving diets in resource-poor parts of the world, given that vitamin A deficiency often results in night blindness and an increased risk of disease and death from infection. In addition to her field research, Waller plans to offer after-school lessons for those wishing to further their English speaking, reading and writing. Her long-term goals include a career working for the U.S. government in foreign aid and to continue the fight against malnutrition, both at home and abroad.

(Photo by Marco Toc)

The Fulbright program is administered at Illinois by the National and International Scholarships Program, which works with undergraduates and recent alumni, and the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships, which works with graduate students. More than 50 Illinois faculty members and staff with geographic and programmatic expertise review student application materials and conduct candidate interviews.

“The broad appeal and applicability of the Fulbright program across disciplines is readily evident in this year’s class of scholars,” said David Schug, the director of the National and International Scholarships Program. “Our Illinois recipients will be representing their alma mater on five different continents this coming year. Fulbrights truly are global scholarships, and we are proud to have our fine students and alumni representing not just our institution, but our country.”

“For students conducting overseas fieldwork, few awards open doors the way Fulbrights do,” said Ken Vickery, the director of fellowships in the Graduate College.  “Fulbright is recognized around the world as a program embodying the highest level of integrity, and this allows Fulbright Scholars to enter new places and be welcomed enthusiastically.”

Applications are open for students interested in pursuing studies, fine arts, research or English teaching assistantships under the Fulbright for the 2019-20 academic year.

Editor’s note: For information about national and international scholarships at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, contact David Schug, National and International Scholarships Program director, 217-333-4710; For information about graduate fellowships at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, contact Ken Vickery, Graduate College Office of External Fellowships director, 217-333-3464,


Reposted from the Illinios News Bureau.