Update from Nick Meyers, Fulbright Student Scholar to Germany 2013-14
June 24, 2015
Mechanobiology, Emotional Intelligence and Fulbright
By Erica Levi Zelinger
Nicholaus Meyers’ Fulbright experience in Ulm, Germany was transformative. Being immersed in another culture on both a social and professional level, he says, greatly boosted his emotional intelligence quotient. He coined it his “Germanation.”
Nick (BS/MS Mechanical Engineering, ’13, Honors) was awarded a 2013-14 Fulbright research grant to work at the University of Ulm, where he ran experiments to help optimize fracture treatment and implant design as an engineer within the Biomechanics of Fracture Healing group at the Institute of Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics.
While on Fulbright, he was offered a PhD position to stay and fully take on a project for which he was completing the initial design work.
But it was his “Germanation” – or the process by which he has grown as a person – that took him by surprise. Now, a year into his PhD position, the rational, strong-willed and magnetic 24-year-old has become immeasurably more interested in foreign language and history, and more apt to partake in political discussion which he would have previously avoided “as a debtor avoids a loan shark.”
His best take-away lesson, Nick says, comes from the German language itself. The grammatical structure of the language prevents fully understanding what is being said until the speaker has completely finished his thought.
“The German language requires you to wait your turn to speak,” Nick says. “So you are truly listening to what others have to say. One who never hears and internalizes the opinion of others removes a great opportunity to learn and grow.”
The impact on Nick’s general worldviews, too, has been incredibly profound.
“I discovered that the average EU citizen is much more keenly aware of current world events,” and thus in fact, he and a friend are trying to get a business venture off the ground, developing a platform by which college students and young professionals may more easily and enjoyably discuss global issues and events and become more involved locally.
Before studying abroad in Sheffield, England earlier in his Drexel career, the notion of leaving the U.S. for an extended period of time seemed logistically unfeasible – even risky and not worth the effort, he says.
But his studies there opened his eyes to further opportunities abroad and his advisor Dr. Sorin Siegler recommended Ulm.
He began meeting weekly with the Fellowships Office to discuss the progress of his Fulbright application, receiving guidance in the development of his defining story and motivation.
“It can be difficult to dig through all of your own personal experience to isolate the true foundation on which to build your personal story, one that will be read by strangers no less, who then get to decide whether you are worthy of an award that will change your life,” Meyers says frankly. “The Fellowships Office was absolutely instrumental in my eventually successful submission. They helped me to pick apart an overflowing chest of incidental details to discover the truly important aspects to include in my application.”
His Fulbright research led him to fall in love with the topic of mechanobiology, the way the body and its tissues respond to mechanical stimuli, he says. “There are many examples in which mechanics directly trigger activity throughout various biotissues, but my work and interest was in bone. As a mechanical engineer the load bearing members of the human body seemed to be a logical bridge to biology.”
While in Ulm researching, Meyers landed the role of sole engineer within the Biomechanics of Fracture Healing group and in charge of six projects, including completing the design of two different experimental external fixators and conducting pilot studies to collect in vivo measurements of distraction osteogenesis and callus stimulation in sheep.
“Without my Fulbright experience, I would never have had the opportunity to work at the Institute and I would have never had the resulting opportunity to complete my PhD under one of the most famous and well-respected researchers in all of fracture healing,” Meyers says.
“What sets Fulbright apart is that you are thrown into a new environment and you have to adapt and represent your country the best that you can. That entire process is the story.”
He adds, “There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. In your worst-case scenario of application and rejection, you develop your self-promotional skills and the ability to sift through information to highlight what is truly important. In your best-case scenario, you have just been awarded a golden ticket that will change the way you see and approach all problems and expand your perception of what the world is, should be, and can be.”
About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is designed to give recent B.S./B.A. graduates, master's and doctoral candidates, young professionals and artists opportunities for personal development and international experience. Each year, Fulbright awards 1,900 grants for 9-12 months of self-designed study, research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 participating countries.
Fulbright U.S. Student grants are administered by the Institute for International Education (IIE) with the goal of encouraging cultural exchange and mutual understanding through engagement in an "atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom."
To apply for Fulbright at Drexel University, you must submit an application for campus review. Learn more on our 2016 Fulbright Student Program page.