U-M among top universities for Fulbrights

February 10, 2023

About two dozen University of Michigan students and faculty scholars have been awarded Fulbright grants for the 2022-23 academic year, putting the university among the top-producing institutions in the country for both programs.

The grants—one of the U.S. government’s most prestigious awards—will fund overseas research of 15 students and 10 faculty scholars from the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses for six to 12 months.

Neha Allathur poses with a Fulbright Denmark sign.
Neha Allathur

A recent graduate of U-M’s business and social work schools, Neha Allathur moved to Aalborg in northern Denmark in August. She is taking graduate courses in mobility and urban studies at Aalborg University and conducting research through her Fulbright grant until May.

“I am at the top research facility in urban mobility in Europe and very excited to be working in this environment alongside the team here,” Allathur said. “My research is centered around mobility justice. COVID-19 recovery accelerated sustainable urban transitions globally, so I am investigating how cities in transition to sustainable urban development affect different communities and serve human mobility needs, focusing on urban streets in Denmark.”

Allathur is working with the municipality and looking at three social dimensions: accessibility, affordability, and safety/social acceptability.

Neha Allathur

“My goal is to map out multimodal urban street design scenarios and translate them into a report with possible implementation in the context of U.S. cities,” she said. “Beyond that, I want to continue immersing myself in my local Danish community and expanding my knowledge of urban mobility inequities and development.

“And because of my background in finance and social work, my long-term goal after my Fulbright is to leverage impact investing in pushing for equitable and sustainable urban development in U.S. cities.”

Around the globe

Other U-M students and scholars are already or will be studying in Germany, Mexico, South Korea and Italy, among others. Their interests range from designing and planning public health care supply chains in emerging countries to emotion and behavior dynamics in offspring of parents with bipolar disorder to how some sports achievements link with sports fans’ own memory and imagination.

Santa J. Ono
Santa J. Ono

“I’m so pleased to join in honoring U-M’s outstanding Fulbright students and faculty scholars,” said U-M President Santa J. Ono. “The Fulbrights are among the most prestigious recognitions made in academia, and in addition to being exemplars of scholastic excellence, these individuals will be leaders in advancing policy, building understanding and creating a better future.”

Fulbright is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. It is also among the world’s largest and most diverse exchange programs.

Since its inception in 1946, more than 400,000 participants from all backgrounds and fields—including recent university graduates, teachers, scientists, researchers, artists and others from the United States and more than 160 other countries—have participated in the Fulbright Program. Fulbright alumni have returned to their home countries to impact their communities thanks to their expanded worldview, a deep appreciation for their host country and its people, and a more extensive network of colleagues and friends.

Scholar in Lithuania

Paul Draus, professor of sociology in the College of Arts, Sciences and Letters at UM-Dearborn, has been in Lithuania since January to build on some of his previous work and explore connections he had developed in local communities.

Professor Paul Draus in a rehearsal of Šančiai Opera. Image credit: Magnetinė Fotostudija
Professor Paul Draus in a rehearsal of Šančiai Opera. Image credit: Magnetinė Fotostudija

“I am spending a lot of time with a community group based in the Šančiai neighborhood of Kaunas, Lithuania, learning about their negotiation process with the city government concerning neighborhood development and visioning,” he said. “I am also participating in an original community opera. They will perform in Rotterdam in April.”

In addition, Draus is providing some guest lectures on topics such as global human rights, social change, creative cities and the sociology of the body.

“Next month, I will also deliver a public lecture at the Valdas Adamkus Presidential Library and Museum, focusing on environmental remediation, community engagement and green redevelopment along the Rouge River,” he said. “Finally, I am also working with colleagues to develop some workshops for graduate and undergraduate students that introduce them to practice-based learning and community-based research methodologies while also helping to connect local community partners to the university.”

Paul Draus takes a lesson in history from Valdas Adamkus. Image credit: Magnetinė Fotostudija

The Fulbright Program was established more than 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and people of other countries.

Ellie Schmidt in Fiji
Ellie Schmidt in Fiji

Recent graduate students Bo Shimmin and Ellie Schmidt are spending six months abroad through the Fulbright grant. Shimmin is currently in Florence, Italy, conducting research and performing in collaboration with the conservatory “Luigi Cherubini.” Schmidt is in Fiji, traveling to villages to fish with local fishermen. She is working on a filmmaking project about the traditional ecological knowledge of female fishermen.

“I have been able to visit villages on different islands and have been fishing for reef fish and sea urchins,” Schmidt said. “My goals are to learn about the wonderful country of Fiji, to learn conversational Fijian, to practice my filmmaking skills and to make friends. I hope to help support the sharing of women’s stories in Fiji through film.”

Ellie Schmidt

Shimmin is on his second Fulbright grant. The first one was cut short due to COVID.

Bo Shimmin

“My grant project includes programming and completing three full-length recitals featuring African American and African diaspora repertoire,” he said. “My interests also lie in 20th-century Italian art songs written after Puccini. I also aim to introduce more of this music into the conservatory culture here.”

Bo Shimmin debut recital, Lycuem Club.
Bo Shimmin debut recital, Lycuem Club.

Shimmin gave two recitals during his four months in Florence and opened his own salon concert series.

“I have six concerts planned for the remainder of the grant and have no intention of slowing down,” he said. “Through the Fulbright, my love and appreciation for this country have grown much stronger. I want to return to the states to complete my doctorate studies in voice.

“In the meantime, I will be relocating to Milan at the end of the year to begin work as a freelance musician and opera singer. My goal is to remain here long term. I can’t imagine leaving anytime soon.”

2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Finalists

Neha Allathur, Open Study/Research Award, Denmark

Zack Blumberg, Open Study/Research Award, Germany

Virginie de Smet, English Teaching Assistant Award, Benin

Marley Duerst, English Teaching Assistant Award, Mexico

Francesca Duong, English Teaching Assistant Award, South Korea

Amelia Eichengreen, Open Study/Research Award, Italy

Jonas Gomes, English Teaching Assistant Award, Italy

Omar Masood, English Teaching Assistant Award, Germany

Reed Puleo, Open Study/Research Award, Austria

Christopher Pumford, English Teaching Assistant Award, Morocco

Joy Richardson, English Teaching Assistant Award, South Korea

Tessa (Ellie) Schmidt, Open Study/Research Award, Fiji

Julian Schultz, Open Study/Research Award, Albania

Bo Shimmin, Open Study/Research Award (Arts), Italy

Rubani Walia, English Teaching Assistant Award, Taiwan

2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Scholars

Reuven Avi-Yonah, Law School; Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Katherine Bauer, School of Public Health; University of Guelph, Canada

David Bradley, Medical School; University of Rwanda, Rwanda

Paige Fischer, School of Environment and Sustainability; Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile

Rumaan Malhotra, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; National Centre for Biological Sciences, India

Sherri Sheinfeld Gorin, Medical School/School of Public Health; Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Scott Spector, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; University of Salzburg, Austria

2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Scholars / UM-Dearborn

Daniel Davis, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

Paul Draus, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; Vytautus Magnus University, Lithuania

Kristian Stewart, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; University of Peloponnese, Greece