For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Congratulations to Drexel’s 2012 Fulbright Finalists

January 20, 2012

Ten Drexel students were announced as finalists for the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship for study and research abroad in 2012-13, the most in any year in Drexel’s history. After a lengthy process of drafting proposals, selecting host countries and fine tuning research topics, these 10 students were chosen as finalists by national screening committees and have been passed to country-specific committees for final selection.

Click on a student's name or photo to read more about the student and their project.

Top Row from left: Josa Hanzlik (Biomedical Engineering PhD) Netherlands; Daphne Papathomas (Biology BS) Spain; Michael Whitzer (Mechanical Engineering BS) Denmark; Phillip Tomezsko (Biomedical Engineering BS) South Africa; Borana Hajdinaj (Criminal Justice and Sociology BA/BS) Albania.

Bottom Row: Nathan Rostad (Environmental Engineering PhD) Australia; Blair Thompson (Law JD) South Africa; Vanessa Prokuski (DUCOM MD) Spain; Farah Noorani (DUCOM MD) India; Blake Johnson (Chemical Engineering PhD) Spain.

Josa Hanzlik

PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering (‘13)

Josa proposes to continue her study of the interaction of bone with porous orthopaedic implants by working with collaborators at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands to develop a sophisticated mathematical model that builds on histological, clinical and mechanical testing.
Originally from Rochester, NY, Josa is a member of Professor Steven Kurtz’s Implant Research Center. She is also President of Drexel Graduate Women in Science and Engineering and is actively engaged in science outreach activites, especially those targeting girls and women.

Daphne Papathomas

Biology BS ’12 (with minors in Spanish and IAS)
Pennoni Honors College

Daphne proposes to work in a lab at the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) in Madrid, Spain, studying the role of the protein FASN in the development of breast cancer, with an eye to using at as a possible therapeutic target. In addition, Daphne would like to investigate the social and cultural attitudes toward breast cancer awareness and activism in Spanish society and is especially interested in working with young people.
From Yardley, PA, Daphne studied abroad in Spain. She hopes to attend medical school, perhaps pursuing an MD/MPH program.

Michael (Mickey) Whitzer

Mechanical Engineering BS ‘12
Pennoni Honors College

Mickey is proposing to pursue graduate work in Mathematics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), in order to better understand the equations that lie at the heart of his interests in dynamic systems and control theory. His goal is to pursue a PhD, eventually becoming a professor that promotes international exchange and collaboration in STEM fields.

Mickey studied abroad twice as a Drexel undergraduate (in Finland and in Denmark) and is an advocate for study abroad here on campus. He plays soccer, in active in service, and is from Atco, NJ.

Phillip Tomezsko

Biomedical Engineering BS ‘12
Pennoni Honors College/STAR Scholar
South Africa

Phil proposes to work in the HIV-1 pathogenesis research lab of a professor at the Unviersity of Witwatersrand in South Africa. The lab is engaged in characterizing the envelope protein of the HIV virus, looking at the possibility for a population-specific vaccine.
Phil is deeply involved with service work as a Drexel Community Scholar through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and Circle K. He was a finalist for the 2011 Truman Scholarship.

Borana Hajdinaj

Criminal Justice and Sociology BS/BA ’12 (with minors in Business Administration and Italian)

Borana proposes to work with the Gender Alliance for Development Center in Tirana, Albania to produce a bilingual book that tells first-person narratives of the experience of women in Albania.

Born in Albania and raised in Philadelphia, Borana is interested in pursuing a career in international law, focusing on domestic violence and women’s rights.

Nathan Rostad

Environmental Engineering PhD ’15

Nathan proposes to work with faculty at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne to investigate the impact of urban water reuse on urban agriculture efforts. He is particularly interested in how Australians harvest and reuse water and the effect of that water on plant growth and vitality.

From Exton, PA, Nathan was an undergraduate in Environmental Engineering and has continued on here for his PhD.

Blair Thompson

Law ‘11
South Africa

Blair proposes to work with the South African Education and Improvement Project in Cape Town in order to study the ways that South Africa’s New Child Justice Law has been implemented. The law offers a novel, restorative approach to juvenile justice, taking racial and economic inequalities into account.
From Crofton, MD, Blair is a graduate of St. John’s College. She is currently working as a Law Clerk in Juvenile Court in Baltimore. Blair would like to pursue an LLM in child law and juvenile justice.

Vanessa Prokuski


Vanessa proposes to work with a research team at Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, investigating new fetal surgery techniques for spina bifida. In addition, Vanessa proposes to work on art projects with pediatric inpatients and also engage in culture and theater in Barcelona.
Vanessa is deeply involved with both health outreach and performing arts here in Philadelphia. She is currently on rotation in Lancaster.

Farah Noorani

Biology/DUCOM BS/MD ‘14
Pennoni Honors College (as an undergraduate)

Farah proposes to work in the Cardiology department of King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, investigating the factors that delay hospital admission and treatment for patients with chest pain. Her hope is to identify factors that can reduce such delays, leading to better outcomes for urban patients.
From Edison, NJ, Farah is a student in Drexel’s accelerated BS/MD program.

Blake Johnson

Chemical Engineering PhD ‘12

Blake proposes to work with faculty at the Madrid Institute of Microelectronics, developing ultrasensitive devices to detect low levels of bio-markers at early stages of disease.

Originally from Wisconsin, Blake is also an instructor of Jiu Jitsu and Judo. He is pursuing a faculty career researching biotechnology applications in medical diagnostics, with an emphasis on international collaboration.