Twenty University of Pennsylvania students and alumni have been awarded Fulbright grants for the 2021-22 academic year, including 12 graduating seniors, six graduate students, and two recent graduates. They will conduct research, pursue graduate degrees, or teach English in Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and Tajikistan.
The Fulbright Program is the United States government’s flagship international educational exchange program, awarding grants to fund as long as 12 months of international experience.
“As an avenue for building cross-cultural understanding, the U.S. Student Fulbright Program is an unparalleled opportunity for American students to represent our country and our University across the world,” says Jane Morris, executive director of Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, which supports applicants. “We are so proud of all our Penn Fulbright students who will be contributing to this important mission through their study, research, and English teaching as Fulbrighters.”
Penn 2021-22 Fulbright grant recipients:
Daisy Angeles, from Yakima, Washington, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Latin American and Latino studies from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Mexico. In the fall semester she conducted an independent study that explored the relationships between child brain development, sleep, and neighborhood socioeconomic status. At Penn she has been a member of the Newman Intercultural Ministry, marketing chief of La Vida Magazine, and board member of Mujeres Empoderadas. Identifying as a first-generation college student, she also has tutored and mentored Latino high school students through the Lanzando Líderes program. Angeles plans to pursue a career that will involve addressing inequality and injustice.
Robyn Barrow, from Little Rock, Arkansas, is a Ph.D. candidate in history of art in the School of Arts & Sciences, expecting to graduate in 2025. She was awarded a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant to conduct research in Iceland, studying belief systems surrounding wood and the effects of deforestation on artmaking and manuscript production in medieval Iceland. She studies art, materiality, and trade in the medieval Nordic world, with an interest in the relationships between European Scandinavians, Indigenous communities, and the Arctic landscape. Barrow received a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and a master’s degree in medieval art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
Saxon Bryant, from Pueblo West, Colorado, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree from the College in political science and from the Wharton School, where he concentrated in business economics and public policy. He was awarded a Fulbright Debate Coach Grant in Taiwan. At Penn, he is a Public Policy Research Scholar, a Joseph Wharton Scholar, a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and a QuestBridge Scholar. Bryant has conducted research with the Think Tank and Civil Societies Program. He is a Wharton Communications Fellow and was a teaching assistant for the Business Economics and Public Policy Department. Bryant was president of the Public Policy Initiative Student Group and special programs director for the Penn Model Congress. He also worked with the International Affairs Association and helped found the Phi Chi Theta business fraternity. Identifying as a first-generation, low-income student, Bryant was involved with Penn First. After the Fulbright he plans to work in Washington, D.C., before enrolling at Harvard Law School.
Youvin Chung, from Barrington, Rhode Island, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with minors in psychology and mathematics from the College. He was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan. Chung tutored Penn students in mathematics and science and has been a teaching assistant for the electricity and magnetism lab, organic chemistry lab, and physical chemistry. He has been a crisis counselor for the Trevor Project and a co-servant at Grace Covenant Church. During the pandemic, Chung co-founded Lockdown Letters, an initiative that sent thousands of letters of appreciation to frontline workers in 50 states, and served as a COVID-19 resource caller in Service Link. He has been a section director for the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project and president of the Penn Pre-Medical Association, as well as an associate editor for Synapse, a student-run health care publication. Chung eventually plans to pursue a medical degree.
Gabriel DeSantis, from Wellesley, Massachusetts, received his bachelor’s degree from Penn in 2020 and will graduate in May with a master’s degree in bioengineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in Portugal at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory. There he will be creating a 3D bio-printed model to optimize the texture and nutritional profiles of cultivated meat. At Penn his academic interests included biology, food science, and sustainability, which he hopes to use to develop new systems of food production. On campus, DeSantis was a Penn Abroad Leader and board member of the Graduate Association of Bioengineers. He is a past chair of the Mask and Wig Club. He currently works as a research assistant for Allevi, a Philadelphia-based bioprinting company at Pennovation Works.
Megan Everts, from Murrieta, California, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and East Asian studies and a minor in French and Francophone Studies from the College. She was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in South Korea. She is a QuestBridge Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. Active with Penn Abroad, she studied for a semester in South Korea and another in Japan, as well as two summers in France and a week in Singapore. She was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to explore her interest in East Asia and to study Japanese. On campus she was involved with the Fellowship for Building Intercultural Communities and the Intercultural Leadership Program. Everts has interned for ESL-focused organizations including Come on Out – Japan and Teach North Korean Refugees. She also had a virtual internship with the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul. She eventually plans to pursue a graduate degree in international relations and a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.
Samuel Goldstein, from Jacksonville, Florida, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics and a master’s degree in physics from the School of Arts & Sciences. He was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany. Goldstein works with Penn Professor Bhuvnesh Jain’s group on cosmology research. He has previously worked with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Cosmology Group and Penn’s High Energy Physics Group. He has been a CURF Research Peer Advisor and a tutor. Goldstein is the recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and the William E. Stephens Prize and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He plans to pursue a Ph.D.in physics.
Maria Kovalchuk, from Pittsburgh, is a Ph.D. candidate in classical studies in the School of Arts & Sciences, expecting to graduate in 2023. She is also pursuing the graduate certificate in global medieval studies and a teaching certificate. Awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in Germany, her current interests include Greek-Latin translation and Hellenistic literature, reception, and literary theory. Kovalchuk received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and her master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, both in classics. She also studied at the American School and the British School in Athens and interned at the Field Museum and the Getty Villa.
Andreas Nolan, from New York City, graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in English from the College. He was awarded a Fulbright to study at the University of Turku in Finland, where he will pursue a master’s degree in inequalities, interventions, and the new welfare state. He plans to investigate when digital health services can effectively supplement in-person treatment, with a focus on overcoming barriers to care. At Penn he helped develop Civic House’s Community Engagement Program and was co-director of Penn Benjamins Peer Counseling.
Caleb Oh, from Kildeer, Illinois, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in biology from the College. He was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in radiation oncology at the Yonsei University Severance Hospital in South Korea. At Penn Oh is the founder of Penn Junto, for students who share a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and the lives of the poor and vulnerable. He is a member of the Shen Bioinformatics Lab, a Penn Center for Neuroscience & Society Fellow, and a Moral Voices Fellow. He eventually plans to pursue a medical degree and continue to work on projects involving computer science and medicine.
Neelima “Neelu” Paleti, from Columbus, Ohio, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in health and societies and biology with a minor in chemistry from the College. She was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in India affiliated with the University of Hyderabad. She will conduct an ethnographic study to explore the sociocultural factors influencing the high rates of cesarean section births and the larger implications on maternal health in South India. Her academic interests include medicine, health policy, and anthropology. At Penn Paleti was an Asian American Studies fellow, director of operations at Service Link, president of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Penn, and co-editor-in-chief of Penn Healthcare Review and PennScience Journal. At the Penn Center for Healthcare Innovation, Paleti helped build a proactive mental health care model for hospitalized patients. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and public health.
Bhavana Penmetsa, from Plano, Texas, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science with minors in computer science and linguistics from the College. She was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Spain, based at the Universidad de Málaga’s Writing Center where she will work to update the curriculum as well as conduct academic writing skills workshops. Penmetsa has been a writing tutor at Penn’s Writing Center and has worked as a teaching assistant. She was a senior board member of PennVeg, played piano for Penn Singers, and worked at the front desk of the College Office. Penmetsa eventually plans to attend law school and pursue a career in education law.
John Sigmier, of Rocky River, Ohio, is a Ph.D. candidate in the art and archaeology of the Mediterranean world graduate group studying Roman archaeology and architectural history in the School of Arts & Sciences, expecting to graduate in 2026. He was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in France based on his dissertation, drawing upon archaeological evidence to explore how construction knowledge was shared in the northwestern Roman Empire. At Penn, he is a Kolb Junior Fellow and has served on the board of the Penn Museum Graduate Advisory Council. He has also worked at archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean and currently excavates in Turkey at the ancient city of Sardis. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his master’s degree from the University of Oxford.
Claire Sliney, from Los Angeles, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy politics & economics and gender sexuality & women’s studies in the College. She was awarded a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship to conduct research and make a documentary film in France. Sliney will study the sociopolitical and sociocultural implications of the depictions of French-Maghrebi women in French cinema and, in turn, will use cinema to reimagine French-Maghrebi female identity. Sliney is a co-founder of The Pad Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and cultivating global partnerships to end both the stigma surrounding menstruation and the poverty caused by periods as a mechanism for improving social, health, and economic conditions. With The Pad Project, Sliney was an executive producer of a Netflix documentary short, “Period. End of Sentence.” which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short at the 2019 Academy Awards. At Penn she is a Perry World House Student Fellow and a Millennium Fellow through the United Nations Academic Impact and Millennium Campus Network.
Marion Standefer, from Philadelphia, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with minors in French and urban education from the College. She was awarded a Fulbright to pursue a degree in education at CY Cergy Université in France, with a focus on social and territorial action. She has spent the past four years directing after-school programs and mentoring students at public schools in West Philadelphia. Standefer is a member of the sociology undergraduate advisory board and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships student advisory board and has been the vice president of Penn’s synchronized swimming team. She worked as a sociological research assistant, a resident assistant for the Music and Social Change Residential Program, and a teaching assistant for two academically based community service courses. She is a member of both the Phi Beta Kappa honors society and the Pi Delta Phi French Honors Society. Her honors thesis about public- and private-school parent experiences during COVID-19 received the E. Digby Baltzell Award for best senior thesis. She is planning a career fighting for educational equity as a public school teacher.
Edward Stevens IV, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminology from the College. He was awarded a Fulbright to pursue a master’s degree in contemporary societies at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Identifying as a first-generation, low-income student, Stevens worked to serve others while at Penn, as a member of the co-ed community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, the Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps, and through Civic House Alternative Break trips. Stevens, a QuestBridge Scholar, held internships with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. He also participated in sociology and history research projects focused on social change. Stevens plans eventually to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology.
Judith Weston, from Atlanta, is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature specializing in French literature and bibliography in the School of Arts & Sciences, expecting to graduate in 2027. She was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in France, continuing to work on her dissertation entitled “Pulp Fiction: A Bibliographical and Material Analysis of Vernacular Literature on Paper c. 1480-1540.” She received her bachelor’s degree from Emory University in French studies and English/classics and her master’s degree from Oxford University in medieval and modern languages.
Andrew Zheng, from Fairfield, California, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in statistics and neuroscience from the College. He was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Spain where he hopes to advance students’ data analysis skills and help restore buildings with historical significance in the Asturias region. At Penn, Zheng was a biology fellow and co-fellow coordinator for Moelis Access Science in the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, as well as philanthropy chair for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. He was head of digital content, vice president of internal relations, and a writer for UnEarthed Magazine. He completed his senior thesis with the Wharton School’s Rebecca Schaumberg on work-style behavior and its implications on interpersonal judgments of trust and working together. He is interested in using psychology to positively impact organizational culture, education, and policy.
Rhina Allende, who will graduate in May after an Urban Teaching Residency at the Graduate School of Education, was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in South Africa. She applied through her undergraduate institution, the College of Saint Rose, where she received her bachelor’s degree.
One Penn grant recipient, who was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Tajikistan, asked to remain anonymous.