Wellesley Alums Awarded 2022–23 Fulbright Grants for Work and Research Abroad

Rosalind Lucier ’22 stands in front of a channel of water with historic buildings behind her.
Author  Josh Idaszak
Published on 

Eight recent Wellesley graduates have been offered Fulbright grants for the 2022–23 academic year. So far, six have accepted the grants, and an additional four candidates have been named as alternates.

“This news represents extraordinary accomplishments on the part of Wellesley’s applicants for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program this past year, and we’re so proud of every one of them,” said Kate Dailinger, Wellesley Career Education director of fellowships. “These numbers demonstrate that our applicants have not been deterred by the pandemic, and underline Wellesley graduates’ eagerness to engage in the world.”

The Fulbright program was founded in 1946 by the U.S. government with profits from the sale of excess government war property at the conclusion of World War II. It operates in more than 160 countries around the world, and it provides approximately 8,000 grants annually to U.S. students and scholars, foreign students and visiting scholars, and teachers and professionals.

This year, four alumnae received open research grants: Kit Mitchell ’18, an anthropology major, will go to Ireland; Chelsie Ahn ’20, a sociology and education studies double major, will go to South Korea; Bridget Peak ’19, a political science major, will go to Oman; and Rosalind Lucier ’22, a chemistry and history double major, will go to Germany. Savannah Cary ’22, an astrophysics and East Asian studies double major, received an award specifically for graduating seniors and will travel to Japan. Alberta Born-Weiss ’20, a peace and justice studies major, received a teaching assistantship that will take her to Mexico.

At Wellesley, Ahn studied patterns of mobility, stratification, and access in education to better understand how school quality differs across neighborhoods and how culture shapes pedagogical methods, personal development, and academic success. In South Korea, she will focus on the country’s efforts to improve educational access for groups that cannot attain—or have been excluded from—formal mainstream education.

“South Korea offers an invaluable opportunity to examine these questions due to its large-scale expansion of higher education pursuits,” said Ahn. “Their education system is globally renowned for its rigor and performance, and it is consistently applauded for delivering high scores on assessments and producing overachieving labor forces. The history of sharp reform of South Korea’s education system provides a rich empirical setting to study how processes of stratification have emerged and how gaps in educational access are being bridged.”

Mitchell will travel to Dublin to study the ways stigma and morality interact with HIV prevention efforts and harm reduction in Ireland. “My Fulbright project is the field research for my doctoral dissertation in anthropology,” said Mitchell, now a graduate student at McGill University in Montreal. “My biggest goal is to dive into that research and make the most of this opportunity.”

For Lucier, selecting a country to apply to for a research grant involved whittling down a list of multiple places of interest; she chose Germany, she said, because “it brought together many of the features that I wanted for a year abroad.” During the application process, Lucier connected with the Natural Product Biosynthesis lab at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, whose research she found especially exciting. She coordinated with the lab’s principal investigator to develop a research plan to elucidate the biochemical pathways involved in the synthesis of quinine, an antimalarial drug that has been used for centuries.

“The research at the Natural Product Biosynthesis lab in Germany synthesizes many of my interests: organic chemistry, evolution, and history,” said Lucier, who conducted evolutionary biology research at Wellesley with Andrea Sequeria, Gordon P. Lang and Althea P. Lang ’26 Professor of Biological Sciences, and organic chemistry research for her thesis with Dora Carrico-Moniz, associate professor of chemistry.

Peak has been coordinating arts education programs for K-12 students across Philadelphia for the past two years with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture. She said the Fulbright will give her a chance to deepen her experience with cultural heritage education, which is enshrined in Oman’s national arts education policy. “I first became interested in preservation through education as the 2019–2020 Susan Rappaport Knafel ’52 Traveling Fellow,” Peak said. “As a volunteer at organizations such as Art for Refuge in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Kuenyehia Trust for Contemporary Art in Accra, Ghana, and Project Elea in Athens, Greece, I saw how art teachers were passing along knowledge on artistic and cultural traditions to the next generation, and in doing so, were critical players in the cultural heritage preservation field, alongside archaeologists, conservators, and other professionals.” Peak is looking forward to seeing how Oman’s policy manifests itself in curricula and the classroom.

Wellesley’s four research grantees see the Fulbright program as a critical facilitator of intercultural exchange during a time of global discord and tribalism. “Fulbright seeks to foster connections in a complex and ever-changing world and aims for grantees to become cultural ambassadors and to build mutual understanding,” Ahn said.

“As we continue to face global issues, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis, mutual understanding can only aid in global solutions,” Peak said. Mitchell hopes their experience in Ireland can help promote mutual understanding about what the U.S. can learn from Ireland and show that “there are a lot of different viewpoints on issues that have been in the political spotlight for both countries recently.”

“Global problems require global solutions, and internationally recognized science is a critical component of those solutions,” Lucier added. “Every bit of scientific research adds to the expanding understanding we have of the world around us, and that is something worth sharing.”

Born-Weiss lives in southeast Texas along the Mexican border, and she sees the teaching assistantship as an opportunity to further explore Mexico. “I’ve loved living in a segment of the U.S. in which Mexican culture and Texan culture are interwoven,” she said. “I chose to apply to the Fulbright in Mexico precisely because Mexico is such a culturally and geographically diverse country, and my life on the border shows me only a glimpse of who and what Mexico is.” She is passionate about immigrant justice, and she said she plans to “build a career working on the border in immigration law, hopefully as a lawyer, which means that Mexico will always be an integral part of my work and life.”

Cary had hoped to live and study in Japan as an undergraduate, but the pandemic ended the possibility. As a Fulbright grantee, she is especially looking forward to living in Tokyo and to making friends through her astrophysics lab and her love of Ultimate Frisbee. She sees this as a moment to savor before she moves forward with graduate studies. “I want to create connections and just enjoy life,” she said. “My main goal is to take the time to enjoy living in Japan.”