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Two U of I Students Awarded Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowships

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Eric Jones, a doctoral candidate in Musicology, and Rachel Smith, an MD/ PhD candidate in Sociology, have been awarded Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowships.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship Program provides an opportunity for graduate students to conduct full-time dissertation research abroad in modern foreign languages and area studies. These projects are allowed in the following geographic areas: Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, South Asia, the Near East, Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and the Western Hemisphere, excluding the United States and its territories. 

Eric Jones

Jones studies the development of youth orchestras in rural eastern Bolivia. He is examining the ways in which particular aspects of the orchestras' performance, practice, and pedagogy express a form of indigeneity that nostalgically links these orchestras and their communities to local notions of the region's colonial past.

Smith’s research takes her to several healthcare facilities in Moshi, Tanzania that provide maternal and reproductive healthcare. There is an increased prevalence of chronic health conditions (CHCs) in the region, which complicates the provision of women’s healthcare. Smith’s project explores women’s health-seeking strategies in low- and middle-income countries and the need for new health management strategies to address the precipitous rise in CHCs among women in the region.

Rachel Smith

“Having two winners at Illinois this year testifies to the vitality of our Area Studies and foreign language programs,” says Ken Vickery, director of the Graduate College Fellowship Office. “Fulbright-Hays is a vital national resource given its record of helping doctoral students gain expertise in countries important to the United States. Fulbright-Hays and other Title VI programs have faced dramatic cuts in funding over the past few years, but the stellar quality of the research conducted by awardees, Rachel and Eric included, highlights the continuing need for this kind of federal initiative.”

Jones urges applicants to apply for the Fulbright-Hays fellowship even if they are not sure their project would be accepted. “I also highly recommend attending the Graduate College's Fulbright-Hays application seminar, which helped to clarify and answer questions about the application process.”

Smith’s advice for prospective Fulbright-Hays applicants: “There is typically a tight turnaround between when the fellowship is announced and when the applications are due, so be sure to plan ahead and be aware of all application guidelines well in advance if you plan to apply.”

Graduate students interested in applying for the Fulbright-Hays DDRA are strongly encouraged to attend the upcoming information session to learn about eligibility requirements, award amount, and the application process.

The information session will take place Thursday, January 26, from 10:30 a.m. to noon in room 514 of the Illini Union Bookstore Building (809 S. Wright St.). Register for the informational workshop at

Information about the Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowships is posted in the Graduate College Fellowship Finder.