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Six students win prestigious Fulbright awards

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

LAWRENCE — Six University of Kansas students have been selected for prestigious Fulbright awards for research, study or English teaching abroad for 2017-18. Notably, KU has two additional students with pending status as alternate Fulbright recipients.

The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The U.S. Student Fulbright program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. Fulbright grants provide funding for round-trip travel, maintenance for one academic year, health and accident insurance and, where relevant, tuition. Since the program’s inception in 1946, 465 KU students, including this year’s awardees, have been selected for Fulbright awards.

The Office of International Programs coordinates applications for Fulbright grants.

“To see KU’s continued success in the Fulbright arena is truly gratifying. Our six Fulbrighters and two active alternates underscore the incredible academic preparation of our students, the global engagement of our university and faculty leadership, and the deep commitment of the faculty members who comprise KU’s Campus Fulbright Committee. We are so proud of our students, and they will be transforming lives abroad during their time as Fulbrighters, just as their lives will be transformed through their experiences. It is a privilege welcoming them to the Fulbright family,” said Associate Vice Provost Charles Bankart.

The winners are as follows:

Barry Ballinger, Lawrence, is a doctoral student in art and architecture history. He completed a bachelor’s degree in architecture at Oklahoma State University. He will collaborate with faculty at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, to study the forces involved with production of space and political mobilization in Ankara's informal settlements and social housing developments. Through his fieldwork with other urban politics professionals, he will engage with a cross-section of people in Turkey, using ethnographic methods and participant observation.

Matthew Fahrenbruch, Lawrence, is a doctoral student in geography. He completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Dakota and a master’s degree at the University of South Mississippi. He will conduct his research in Nicaragua in collaboration with the Miskitu Coast University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University. His study will explore the complex political ecology that has emerged at the intersection of the global jellyfish commodity market and developing afro-indigenous autonomy.

Abigail Fields, Minneapolis, Minnesota, completed a bachelor’s degree in French and ecology. She will be an English teaching assistant in France. 

Robert Jameson, St. Paul, Minnesota, is a doctoral student in history. He completed a bachelor’s degree at Mount Mercy College and a master’s degree at Iowa State University. During his Fulbright year in the Czech Republic, he will contribute to ongoing work done by the Oral History department of Charles University by conducting a series of interviews with Czech and Slovak technologists. His research focuses on questions of dissidence and technological development in the late socialist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s and 1980s and in East Central Europe by examining computer technologists’ publications, including official magazines and ephemera.

Zachary McCarter, Marysville, is a master’s degree student in education. He will be an English teaching assistant in Germany.

John (Ike) Uri, Concordia, is completing a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He will be an English teaching assistant in Tajikistan.


Abbey Elsbernd, Andover, is a medical student at KU Medical Center. She proposed to assist lab faculty and interact with patients and health care professionals at a youth-designed oncology ward at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Kevin Tenny, Leawood, is completing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He proposed to undertake catalyst research at Imperial College London in pursuit of the MRes course in green chemistry.

Bankart said, "I would like to give special thanks to our faculty committee, Cécile Accilien, African and African-American studies; Christopher Brown, environmental studies; Hyesun Cho, curriculum and teaching; Andrew Denning, history; Diane Fourny, humanities and Western civilization; Mugur Geana, journalism; Peter Herlihy, geography and atmospheric science; Mary Klayder, English; Marie-Alice L’Heureux, architecture; Liz MacGonagle, history; Deborah Osborne, Applied English Center; Joe Potts, International Programs, Amy Rossomondo, Spanish and Portuguese; Eric Stomberg, music performance; Kimberly Swanson, French and Italian; Laurence Weatherley, chemical engineering; Ketty Wong, music; and Michael Wuthrich, global and international studies. Without their commitment to students, deep expertise and active mentoring we would not be celebrating such success. We are a great university because we have leaders like them on our faculty and staff, and we are greater still because of the students they educate and empower to transform the world around them.” 

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