New class of Fulbright grant winners will take part in educational exchange programs around the world

Fulbright grants have been awarded to 15 students and alumni from Johns Hopkins

After the announcement of a record-breaking 48 finalists earlier this spring, Fulbright grants have been awarded to 15 students and alumni of Johns Hopkins University in the face of a pandemic and limited availability of placements.

Named for U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, who sponsored legislation creating the prestigious scholarship, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the country's largest educational exchange program, offering opportunities for students and young professionals to meet, work, live with, and learn from the people of the host country. The program awards approximately 2,000 grants annually and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

More information about the Fulbright application process can be found on the National Fellowships Program website. Meet the JHU winners below.

Fulbright Open Study/Research Award

Khaled Aboumerhi, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a Fulbright award to pursue research in Zurich, seeking to expand neuromorphic computer technology that models computers around the human brain. While there, Aboumerhi hopes to engage with Dada arts exhibitions and participate in the kind of music performance that he cites as foundational for his intellectual development.

Marios Falaris, who is currently working on his PhD in anthropology, obtained a Fulbright grant to conduct research in India. He is particularly interested in issues of land redistribution and how land distribution bridges gaps of displacement for Kashmiri communities. Falaris was a 2020 recipient of a Fulbright grant that was suspended owing to COVID-19, and he hopes to continue his community engagement in literacy work, theater, and discussion groups upon returning to India.

Alexandra Lombardo, a medical student at JHU, won a grant for National Taiwan University's Master of Science in Global Health program in Taipei. Through this master's degree, Lombardo's interest lies in addressing disparities in women's health care, and she hopes to write a thesis on the impacts of COVID-19 on reproductive health care in the U.S. and Taiwan. Beyond her studies, she looks forward to volunteering at the Tzu Chi's free clinic for migrants and joining an outdoors club.

Lea Marineau is a PhD candidate in the School of Nursing, and her Fulbright award grants her the opportunity to conduct qualitative research for survivors of assault-related injuries in and around Cape Town. Her Fulbright research involves conducting individual interviews about interpersonal violence and substance use among South Africans who sustained a repeat assault-related injury the year prior to the interview. While there, she also hopes to volunteer with the urban gardening section at Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading, join a running club, and attend seminars at the University of Cape Town related to violence and trauma.

Matthew Pellegrino, a PhD student in the Composition Department at Peabody, received a Fulbright award to pursue a project addressing transracial adoption through music in South Korea. Pellegrino's project honors Pansori, an ancient Korean form of sung storytelling, while exploring Korean-American adoptee identity; he plans to take the final project on tour through South Korea. His interests beyond composition and research in South Korea include learning martial arts, participating in music open mics, and joining a film club to further his interest in Korean film.

Ronan Perry, who obtained a BA in applied mathematics and statistics in 2019 and then an MSE in biomedical engineering in 2020, won a grant to pursue a Fulbright project in Germany to research the statistical field of causal inference and the application of machine learning to counterfactual questions. Outside of this work, Perry plans to join an Ultimate Frisbee team, participate in tandem language learning, and witness local cultural events such as boat races.

Lauren "Mickey" Sloat, a molecular and cellular biology major and member of the Class of 2021, received a grant to pursue biological research in Germany. Sloat's research involves studying the protein structures that are responsible for meiosis, the transfer of DNA that underlies both chromosomal disorders and cancer. An avid theater enthusiast, Sloat is excited to learn about German theater in her spare time, in addition to volunteering in learning labs to make scientific knowledge more accessible.

Liam Wall, a 2019 graduate in economics, is a recipient of the Binational Internship Program award, which will allow him to intern with a Mexican company while taking courses in financial technology at Instituto Technológico Autónomo de México. Wall is especially interested in "fintech" and its capacity to make financial services more accessible to underbanked populations. He is also eager to join a running club, tutor English in Mexico City, and organize network events as health restrictions allow.

Salma Tayel, a current master's student in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, received a grant to explore reproductive autonomy—which she describes as women's ability to make decisions about reproductive matters such as contraceptive use, pregnancy, and childbearing—in Egypt. Outside of this research, she plans to volunteer for a nonprofit that promotes inclusiveness for people with disabilities, take Arabic classes at the American University in Cairo, and supplement her research with seminars at the AUC.

English Teaching Assistant Awards

The English Teaching Assistant Awards program places Fulbright winners in classrooms around the world to provide assistance to the local English teachers and to serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States.

The winners of English Teaching Assistantship awards from Johns Hopkins are:

Katherine Hu, a 2020 graduate in biomedical engineering, received a Fulbright grant that will allow her to assistant teach in Spain, where she also plans to lead after-school STEM workshops and volunteer at a local hospital.

Sarika Mullapudi also received an ETA grant to travel to Spain, and this 2020 graduate holds her BA in a double major: molecular and cellular biology, and medicine, science, and the humanities. In Spain, she hopes to host after-school cooking classes and volunteer at a local health clinic.

Kevin Sompel, a 2021 graduate with a BA in biomedical engineering, received a grant to fuel his career as an aspiring educator through an English Teaching Assistant award to Poland. While in Poland, he also hopes to host a book club and join a singing group.

Angela Xu graduated in 2020 with a BA in molecular and cellular biology, after which she received a Fulbright ETA award to Taiwan. An aspiring physician, she plans to volunteer at a local clinic in Taiwan, in addition to hosting after-school clubs in photography or theater.

Angel Zhao is another recipient of an ETA award to Taiwan, and this member of the Class of 2021 recently received her BA in history and international studies. In addition to teaching, she hopes to take Mandarin classes in Taiwan and either lead or assist with a local book club.

Ivy Wang is a 2021 graduate in international studies and economics who received a grant to teach secondary school in South Korea, after which she hopes to work in international policy and foreign relations. Beyond her teaching responsibilities, she is enthusiastic about hosting a debate club and engaging in volunteering with a local church.

Although COVID-19 restrictions resulted in fewer finalists paired with countries, three students from JHU's previous application cycle will be pursuing ETA grants initially deferred owing to pandemic restrictions. They are Julia Dickson (Kyrgyzstan), Sumeet Sidhu (Poland), and Bethany York (Lithuania). In addition, eight JHU students or alumni were named alternates for Fulbright grants this year: Lesya Bazylewicz, a 2018 graduate from the Writing Seminars; Ella Damstra, a 2020 graduate with a BA in psychology; Nomongo Dorjsuren, who graduated recently with a bachelor's degree in biophysics; Talia Katz, who is currently pursuing her PhD in anthropology; Emily Lee, who received a BA in public health studies in 2019; Sydney Taylor, a recent recipient of a master's degree in education; Serena Wang, who graduated in 2020 with a BA in public health; and Tanna Wise, who received her master's degree in international relations and international economics in 2020.