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Congratulations to Drexel's 2018 Fulbright Semi-finalists

February 5, 2018

Ten Drexel students have been selected as semi-finalists for the prestigious Fulbright US Student Program for 2018-19. These students spent considerable time developing research proposals, crafting application essays, and incorporating feedback from supportive readers. We are very happy for them.

After being chosen by Fulbright US National Screening Committees, their applications have been passed to the host countries for final selection. They will hear in the coming months whether they receive the award. We wish them the best of luck!

2018 Fulbright Semi-finalists

Nicholas Barber
BS Geoscience '18, Honors
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Indonesia
Drexel Faculty Mentor: Loÿc Vanderkluysen

Nicholas Barber is a geoscience student minoring in chemistry. He is involved in the OUR Undergraduate Research Leaders program and served as the first president in 2016-17. He also served as president of the Paleontology and Geology Club of Drexel for 2016-17 and is the vice president for 2017-18. Nick began undergraduate research in the Drexel Paleontology Lab, first as a volunteer and continuing as a 2014 STAR Scholar. Nick plans to pursue a PhD in volcanology, and hopes to study the origin of magmas and their evolution using nano-scale chemistry, spatial statistics, and computational models. He hopes to examine the complex processes that generate volcanism in developing countries, with a focus on fieldwork in Southeast Asia.

Dalia Kirzner
BS/MS Secondary Education/Special Education '18, Honors 
Fulbright Program: English Teaching Assistantship, South Korea


Sergio Machaca
BS Mechanical Engineering ’18, Honors

Fulbright Program:
Study/Research Grant, Germany

Sergio is completing his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Since transferring to Drexel University in 2015, Sergio has been involved with the Hess Undergraduate Research Scholars program with Dr. Sorin Siegler. His first research experience at Drexel was in biomechanics, studying distance mapping as a tool for evaluating total ankle replacement designs. Through involvement with Drexel ASME student design competitions, as well as his co-op experiences, Sergio simultaneously developed an interest in robotics. During his final co-op at Siemens Corporate Technology in Munich, Germany, Sergio created a novel tensioning system and modular casing design for tendon-based industrial manufacturing robot arms. He is currently co-developing a robotic platform for analysis of the ankle joint for his senior design project. Through the Fulbright program, he hopes to return to Germany to develop end-effectors for autonomous robotic surgical procedures at the Technical University of Munich. Sergio plans to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in medical robotics. He is grateful for the support of his advisor, Dr. Sorin Siegler, as well as the assistance and feedback provided by Meredith Wooten, Benjamin Rayder, Emily Coyle, and Drexel Fellowships during the application process.

Anna Monastero
BS Environmental Studies and Sustainability '18
Fulbright Program: English Teaching Assistantship, Spain

Anna is competing her bachelor’s in environmental studies, with a certificate of proficiency in Spanish. She currently works as a tutor for IELT Solutions, an English language school in Philadelphia, and volunteers with Drexel’s English Language Center in their Community Bridge program. During her time as an undergrad, she has worked on research projects funded by the National Science Foundation concerning global climate change and its impacts on politics and society. She hopes to combine her passion for the environment and teaching English through one day designing an ESL class curriculum that incorporates culture and sustainability into the classroom.

Ian Nichols
PhD student, Biology
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Cameroon

Ian Nichols is a second year PhD student in the Biology Department at Drexel University focusing on conservation biology. He became fascinated with the natural world at an early age. After high school he began working in conservation, volunteering at a lowland gorilla orphanage in Gabon, Africa. While in college, Ian found his talent in photography and upon graduation, obtained a grant from the National Geographic Society to document chimpanzee tool use in the Republic of Congo. This started Ian’s photography career and he began working for notable organizations, including National Geographic Magazine and the Smithsonian Institute. Ian returned to university to become a greater force for conservation by understanding the science behind it.

If awarded a Fulbright grant, Ian plans to study primates in agroforestry habitats in Cameroon. The greatest danger to primates, and most species, is habitat loss. Agroforestry is a type of agriculture where a forest can be maintained and commodity or food crops are grown in the understory. Development that requires a forest could be an important tool for conservation as it protects biodiversity while providing jobs. There are still, however, many unknowns about how primates utilize agroforestry habitats in Africa, which is what his research aims to answer. Ian is grateful to the scientists that encouraged him along the way, the outstanding team in Drexel fellowships and Dr. Meredith Wooten, Dr. Jon Gelhaus in the Drexel BEES department, and the support of his advisor Dr. Katy Gonder.

Valerie Niemann
BS Chemical Engineering ’18, Honors
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Switzerland

Valerie is a senior in chemical engineering with a minor in physics. Her first research experience was as a STAR Scholar in the Nanocrystal Solar Lab under the guidance of Dr. Aaron Fafarman. Since then she has pursued varied topics in renewable energy and power generation, such as solar cells, hydrogen evolution reaction catalysis, thermal management for power devices, and thermoelectrics. These projects have taken place at the University of Applied Sciences in Münster, Germany, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She enjoys working in international environments and is dedicated to promoting effective scientific communication in English, Spanish, and German. She plans to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering, researching renewable chemical processes for energy applications. In her spare time she enjoys running, reading, and drinking coffee.

Dylan O'Donoghue
MLS Legal Studies, ’18
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Taiwan

Dylan is completing her master’s in legal studies at Drexel University Kline School of Law. Her research interests focus on immigration, immigration in employment law, and anti-human trafficking regulations. In the International Human Rights Advocacy and Practice course at the Kline School of Law, Dylan conducted a report on the human rights violations of homeless youth who are victims of human trafficking. The report was published on the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights’ website. In addition to her studies, Dylan is also a full-time employee at Drexel University, serving as the Assistant Director of Foreign Nationals at the International Students and Scholars Services office. As an Assistant Director, she is responsible for communication, issuance, monitoring, and compliance, of foreign national employees. She advises on J-1 and H-1B visa regulations for faculty, staff, and visiting scholars. Dylan graduated from Grinnell College with bachelor degrees in Chinese studies and English literature. After graduation, she received a fellowship through Grinnell College to live and teach in Nanjing, China. Upon returning to the U.S., Dylan stayed involved in the field of education and while also completing her certification as an interpreter for Mandarin. She has also recently completed her graduate certificate at Drexel University in Issues in Human Trafficking. She hopes to combine her interests in anti-human trafficking and language studies to better understand Taiwan’s successful implementation of anti-human trafficking regulations. Dylan would like to thank all of those who have guided her throughout the application process.

Emily Ostrow
BS/MS Environmental Science '18, Honors
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Colombia

Emily Ostrow is an environmental science student with a concentration in ecology and conservation. Emily started doing research her freshman year through the STAR Scholars program working with Jon Wnek, Dane C. Ward, and Walter F. Bien. Emily is currently working in the Ornithology Department at the Academy of Natural Sciences on her thesis research with Jason D. Weckstein and Nathan H. Rice. She has worked on a project focusing on detecting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in wild bird populations in both Pennsylvania and Illinois. Her thesis research is focused on toucan evolutionary relationships and biogeography. She has also participated in an international museum collecting trip to Nicaragua. Emily plans on pursuing a PhD with a research focus in ornithology. Through Fulbright, she is planning on researching tanagers and their parasitic lice in the mountains of Colombia.

Marie Ruisard
BArch '18, Honors
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Norway

 Marie is completing her undergraduate thesis as a student of Drexel’s 2+4 Architecture Program. Her architectural education, combined with her minor in sustainability in the built environment, have guided her current research interests to vernacular architecture and cultural preservation. In 2017, Marie contributed to two articles submitted to the new edition of the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World. Her current design thesis focuses on the role of architecture in addressing the widespread issue of language loss among the Sámi people of Scandinavia. If awarded a Fulbright grant to Norway, she hopes to study the cultural impacts of architectural and infrastructure development within indigenous areas. Marie is grateful to Joshua Lessard and Alan Greenberger for their ongoing advice and encouragement, and to Meredith Wooten for her assistance throughout the application process.

Caitlin Walczyk
BA Global Studies '18, Honors
Fulbright Program: Study/Research Grant, Ukraine

Caitlin is a double major in global studies and political science with minors in German and Russian. She has focused her studies on foreign policy, international relations, and language, with a particular interest in post-World War II geopolitics and cooperation within the international system. She has extensively researched intercultural communication competence, national identity, and nation-building. Caitlin has spent a significant amount of time abroad throughout her undergraduate career, including most recently as a Boren Scholar studying Russian language and post-Soviet history and culture in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She hopes to expand her knowledge of the region through Fulbright by researching post-Soviet Ukrainian language policy in Lviv, Ukraine. Caitlin is grateful for the continuous guidance and support she has received from Dr. Simone Schlichting-Artur, Dr. Lloyd Ackert, Dr. Meredith Wooten, and Kate Hughes throughout this process.


The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, research, creative projects, or teaching English in over 140 countries around the world. 

For more information please visit the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website or email

Special thanks to the Drexel faculty and staff members who worked with us during the summer and fall to advise individual applicants, review campus applications, and conduct preliminary review and campus interviews:

Lloyd Ackert, Associate Professor, History and Philosophy

Peter Amato, Teaching Professor, English and Philosophy

Ben Barnett, Instructor, English Language Center

Lotte Buiting, Senior Advisor, Study Abroad

Julia Colwell, Visiting Assistant Professor, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Jill Derstine, Associate Clinical Professor, MSN-Advanced Practice Role

Kevin Egan, Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Barry Furrow, Professor, Law

Tali Gidalevitz, Assistant Professor, Biology

Katy Gonder, Associate Professor, Biology

Marcia Henisz, Director of International Health, Safety, and Security, Office of International Programs

Amelia Hoover-Green, Assistant Professor, Politics

Emily Kashka, Program Manager, Office of Undergraduate Research

Eric Kennedy, Assistant Director, Honors Program

Brian Lee, Associate Professor, SPH-Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Jaya Mohan, Associate Director, Office of Undergraduate Research

Kristine Mulhorn, Teaching Professor, Health Administration

Craig Newschaffer, Professor, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute

Dagmar Niebhur, Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Ana Nye, Assistant Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Joel Oestreich, Professor, Global Studies and Modern Languages

Dan Dougherty, Director, Honors Program and  Associate Dean, Pennoni Honors College

Tiago Saraiva, Associate Professor, History

Ludo Scheffer, Teaching Professor, Psychology

Lisa Shen, Advisor, Study Abroad

Adrian Shieh, Associate Teaching Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Kara SpillerAssistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Rachel Wenrick, Associate Teaching Professor, English and Philosophy

Julia Wisniewski, Program Coordinator, Honors Program

Adam Zahn, Associate Director of Global Engagement, Office of International Programs

Erica Zelinger, Director, Marketing and Media, Pennoni Honors College

Emily Zimmerman, Professor, Law