Brown's 2019-2020 Fulbright Scholars. (Not all are pictured.)

Brown ranked nation’s No. 2 producer of Fulbright winners for 2019-20

With 38 Fulbright grants awarded to students and recent alumni, the University is among the top Fulbright institutions for the fourth consecutive year.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With 38 Fulbright scholarships awarded to students and recent alumni in 2019-20, Brown University produced more student Fulbright winners than all but one other school in the nation, according to data released by the U.S. Department of State on Monday, Feb. 10.

That rank marks the fourth consecutive year that Brown has been among the country’s top student Fulbright producers. For the prior three academic years, the University earned the country’s top rank with 35, 39 and 30 students, respectively — for 2019-20, Georgetown University topped the list with 45 awards.

Since 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program has promoted international peace through intellectual and cultural exchange. The program funds approximately 2,000 recent graduates and current graduate students annually to teach and research in 140 countries around the world. Applicants are selected based upon academic and professional records, the quality and achievability of their teaching or research proposals, and ability and willingness to engage culturally with their host communities.

Brown’s consistent placement among the top producers reflects the University’s investment in preparing students to produce knowledge that addresses complex global challenges, said Rashid Zia, dean of the college.

“We are so proud of our student Fulbright scholars,” Zia said. “Their distinctive projects illustrate the transformational power of an undergraduate education designed to foster the intellectual and personal growth of the individual student. Having actively framed their own education and formed relationships with faculty and peers while on campus, our graduates are prepared to direct their own learning and build relationships across languages and cultures, living the values of the Open Curriculum beyond College Hill.”

Applicants learn of their award decisions on a rolling basis each spring, with the announcement on the year’s top Fulbright-producing institutions coming the following February, when award recipients are midway through their research and teaching fellowships.

The 38 members of Brown’s current cohort of student recipients are teaching and conducting research in 24 countries. Their teaching placements include elementary schools, high schools and universities on four continents, and their research spans the full range of academic study, from the arts and humanities to the social science and STEM fields. This year’s research projects include studies of women’s reproductive health in India, sustainable energy in Denmark, and the relationship between human migration and aging in eastern Russia.

An individualized path

For recent Brown graduates, these fellowships provide opportunities to pursue transformative teaching and research projects that extend the individualized courses of study they pursued while at Brown — all while serving as cultural ambassadors abroad.

After graduating in 2019, Fulbright recipient Melanie Ambler traveled to Université de Caen-Normandie in France, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in behavioral neuroscience and researching the relationship between memory loss and art. Previous studies indicate that patients with memory loss may “no longer remember their spouse or children, but the minute they hear a song from childhood, they will perk up, even sing along,” she said.

Buoyed by these observations, Ambler is exploring whether patients with severe memory loss can also learn new music. Although experts previously believed this to be impossible, said Ambler, her early results show otherwise: after as few as two days of exposure, she is finding that patients can identify new pieces of music from groups of famous and unfamiliar melodies.

“[My Fulbright trajectory is the] result of the Open Curriculum, with everyone being the architects of their own education. That’s the one massive thing that Brown provided for me. Elsewhere, that kind of opportunity wouldn’t exist.”

Melanie Ambler 2019-2020 Fulbright Fellow, Class of 2019

Although a few U.S. laboratories study music and the brain, the Neuropsychology and Imaging of Human Memory Lab in Caen, France, is unique because its researchers examine MRI images of patients’ brains in addition to observing patients’ behavior. This, Ambler said, allows them “to understand and connect what we see behaviorally with what we see structurally.”

Being a Fulbright scholar has also enabled Ambler to immerse herself within a culture she has studied since she was in middle school.

“I have three passions in life: medicine, music and French,” Ambler said. “Coming to France was a realization of all of those passions. For me, it has been so fulfilling to carry out this research while also experiencing this new culture.”

In addition to noting the “invaluable guidance and feedback” that she received from the fellowship office at Brown, Ambler credited the Artists and Scientists as Partners program — housed in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown — with helping her to first see how her love of music could inform her approach to scientific research.This novel approach inspired an independent senior thesis on how music affects the recovery of surgical patients, paving the path to her Fulbright research in France.

This trajectory, she said, is the “result of the Open Curriculum, with everyone being the architects of their own education. That’s the one massive thing that Brown provided for me. Elsewhere, that kind of opportunity wouldn’t exist.”

The 2019-20 undergraduate and recent graduate Fulbright Fellows are:

Rakan Aboneaaj (Brazil)

Melanie Ambler (France)

Shade Au (Taiwan)

Ashley Bang (Taiwan)

Isabelle Bauman (Denmark)

Karisma Rani Chhabria (India)

Eojin Choi (Poland)

Jacinta Clay (Norway)

Rachaell Diaz (México)

Sonia Geba (Ukraine)

Makedah Hughes (France)

Julian Jacobs (Belgium)

Jacob Jamison (Germany)

Ricardo Jaramillo (México)

Kiyomasa Kuwana (South Korea)

Tomiyuri Lewis (Thailand)

Mark Liang (Macau)

Jonathan Lujan (Taiwan)

Molly Magid (New Zealand)

Marcus Mamourian (Germany)

Hope McGovern (Austria)

Hafsa Moinuddin (Malaysia)

Jack Morris (Brazil)

Giovanni Santiago (Spain)

Kaia Sargent (Netherlands)

Evan Silver (Indonesia)

Lucy Srour (Indonesia)

Emily Sun (Spain)

Signe Swanson (Ukraine)

Shanze Tahir (Indonesia)

Yesenia Valverde (Malaysia)

Kit Sum Wu (Japan)

Dorothy Yam (Russia)

Daniel Youkilis (Russia)

Crystal Zhang (Japan)

Aaren Zhu (China)

This year's graduate student Fulbright Fellows are:

Keegan Cothern (Japan)

Melanie White (Nicaragua)