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Congratulations to Drexel's 2018 Fulbright Honorees!

May 11, 2018

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Congratulations to Drexel's 2018-19 Fulbright U.S. Student Program honorees!

Five Drexel students have been offered a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grant for 2018-19 and two have been named alternates. These students spent lots of time developing research proposals, crafting application essays, and incorporating feedback from supportive readers. We are delighted they've been recognized for their hard work and potential.


2018 Fulbright Student Honorees

Nick BarberNicholas Barber
BS Geoscience '18, Honors
Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Indonesia (declined)
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 English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to South Korea

Dalia is completing a 4-year B.S/M.S in Chemistry Education and Special Education, with a minor in chemistry and a certification in teaching English as a second language. During her time as an undergrad, she tutored in various schools throughout Philadelphia in both science and reading, and worked with Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia teaching biology and the history of Black power movements to middle school students. Dalia did her student teaching in chemistry at Constitution High School in Philadelphia. She has conducted research on the implementation of functional communication training on students with autism. In South Korea, Dalia hopes to continue developing her teaching skills so that she can create positive, multicultural learning environments for English Language Learners in future classrooms.

Sergio Machaca
BS/MS Biomedical Engineering ’15, Honors

Alternate, Fulbright Study/Research Grant to 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.

Ian Nichols imageIan Nichols
PhD student, Biology
Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Cameroon
Drexel faculty mentor: Katy GonderJohn Gelhaus

Ian Nichols is a second year PhD student in the Biology Department at Drexel University focusing on conservation biology. 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. On his Fulbright, 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.

Valerie Niemann
BS Chemical Engineering ’18, Honors
Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Switzerland
Drexel faculty mentor: Aaron Fafarman

Valerie is a senior in chemical engineering with a minor in physics. Her first research experience was during the STAR program, where she worked 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 is dedicated to promoting effective scientific communication and international exchange. She plans to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering, researching renewable chemical processes for energy applications.

Emily Ostrow
BS/MS Environmental Science ’18, Honors
Alternate, Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Colombia
Drexel faculty mentorJason Weckstein

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.

Dylan O'Donoghue
MLS Legal Studies, ’18
Fulbright Study/Research Grant to 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.


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 fellowships@drexel.edu!

** The 2019-20 Fulbright U.S. Student Program is now open! Learn more about applying for Fulbright at Drexel.**


About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since Fulbright Program’s establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges – from sustainable energy and climate change to public health and food security – in all areas, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States and the world.  Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists, and teachers. They include 59 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 71 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public and non-profit sectors.

Fulbright recipients are among over 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education. Drexel students and recent alumni work with Fulbright Program Advisors in the Center for Scholar Development, a unit of the Pennoni Honors College.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by telephone 202-632-6452 or e-mail ECA-Press@state.gov.

For information and official policies to publicize this news, please contact Dr. Meredith Wooten, Director, Drexel Center for Scholar Development.