Fulbright grants will send four recent UNH graduates to Scotland, Germany, Mexico and Indonesia in the coming months in order to pursue English teaching, research or graduate study work.
UNH had five finalists for the Fulbright this spring – Eli Duggan ’23, Sam Mercer ’23, Alyssa Landry ’23, Bailey Prasad ’23 and Sophie Wulfing ’23G – but Mercer ultimately chose to decline his. He was also offered the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and was limited by a new rule established this year that states one student cannot have two federal fellowships concurrently (otherwise he would have deferred the NSF grant by a year, as was previously acceptable).
The remaining recipients will all spend 8-to-10 months abroad as a result of receiving the Fulbright.
The Fulbright Program was proposed by Sen. J. William Fulbright to help increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those in other countries. President Harry S. Truman signed the legislation into law in 1946. This year’s group of five UNH finalists will spend time on three different continents.
Duggan, a Concord, New Hampshire native who majored in bioengineering, was awarded a graduate study grant to pursue a MSc in sustainable engineering: renewable energy systems and the environment at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, where he will spend September 2023 to August 2024.
While in Scotland, Duggan’s coursework will include energy systems analysis and modeling, energy policy, and sustainability. He will also be working on an industrial group project and an individual thesis, which he currently plans to focus on modeling the impact of electric vehicles on grid stability and the potential for vehicle-to-grid charging to create a “virtual battery” of EVs that can be used to increase grid efficiency and lower electrical costs.
“I'm hugely appreciative of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and learn in a new location, develop international connections and join a cohort of other Fulbrighters doing amazing work in their varied fields of study,” Duggan says. “I believe engaging with my peers in Scotland will enrich my perspective and equip me with the much-needed communication skills to collaborate across cultures on solutions to the big climate challenges we all face.”
In lieu of the Fulbright, Mercer, a chemical engineering graduate from Sanford, Maine, will be completing a summer internship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado for the U.S. Department of Energy before beginning his Ph.D. in chemical engineering this fall at the University of Texas at Austin as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. He plans to investigate both the theoretical chemistry and economic forecasts for alternative energy technologies at UT Austin.
He had initially applied for the Fulbright “as a way for me to connect science with culture and history.” Under the Fulbright Mercer would have worked at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim, Germany, following a research proposal on Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, a process that converts syngas (a mixture of carbon dioxide and hydrogen) into valuable hydrocarbons for downstream petrochemical production.
“I saw it as an opportunity to embrace a new perspective on research at the birthplace for many famous chemical processes, improve my proficiency in German and join a new community in Europe,” Mercer says.
Landry, a linguistics and German major while at UNH, will be heading to Germany, working as an English teaching assistant near Bavaria beginning in September. The Biddeford, Maine, native said she is looking forward to interacting with the Bavarian dialect, which is different from standardized German – the language she studied at UNH.
“The relationship between dialects and the standardized language is one of my sociolinguistic interests,” Landry says. “I sought the Fulbright because I wanted to combine my academic knowledge of language learning and linguistics with my experience learning and singing in other languages; this grant will allow me to do that in a classroom setting while continuing to pursue German.”
Beyond her upcoming experience, Landry plans to obtain a master’s in education with a focus on TESOL and become an ESL teacher.
Prasad, who studied equine studies and Spanish at UNH, was awarded a special study/research COMEXUS Binational Business grant to complete an internship and coursework in Mexico. She is still in the process of learning what company she will be working with and what role she will hold, but she hopes to gain experience that will benefit her as she prepares to enter the workforce.
“When I opened the offer letter email, I was ecstatic. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will benefit me in a myriad of ways, principally in my desire to forge a career in the marketing sector,” Prasad says. “The Fulbright-COMEXUS grant will enable me to develop the language, persuasion and marketing skills necessary to link purpose and profit, connecting economic growth and corporate social responsibility.”
Beyond the work, Prasad says she is looking forward to being immersed socially into the local culture and hopes to be able to participate in the rich equestrian community in Mexico.
“I feel extremely fortunate to embark on this grand adventure,” she says.
Wulfing, who earned a grad degree in biology (specifically studying quantitative ecology) this spring, is headed to Indonesia, where she will split her time between Makassar — where she will be working with a professor and potentially be teaching coding classes — and Pulau Tanakeke, a small island off the coast of Makassar where she will be conducting fishery stock assessments in newly planted mangroves.
“Small scale fisheries have become a huge topic of my research. However, because my research is mostly conducted on a computer, a Fulbright grant will allow me to combine quantitative skills with real-world experience,” Wulfing says. “I will actually be able to see my study site and interact with the people directly involved in the fishery. As someone who works mostly with data, it’s easy to forget how much research can have an impact on local communities.”
Wulfing, from Ravensdale in Washington State, is hoping the experience will help her better understand whether small-scale fishery research is the kind of work she wants to pursue in the future.