Date June 13, 2023
Media Contact

Brown graduate students, recent alumni earn 35 Fulbright scholarships

This year’s Fulbright awardees will begin teaching and research assignments in 25 countries across five continents in Fall 2023.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Thirty-two recent Brown graduates and three current graduate students have received Fulbright awards for the 2023-24 academic year to conduct independently designed research projects or teach English in locations across the globe.

Brown has ranked as one of the top three student Fulbright producers in the nation for the past seven years, earning the highest spot on the list in 202120182017 and 2016; the No. 2 rank in 2019 and 2020; and the No. 3 spot in 2022. The U.S. Department of State, which oversees the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, will release data for the 2023-24 award cycle next spring.

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright program promotes international peace through intellectual and cultural exchange. Applicants are selected based upon their academic and professional records, the quality and achievability of their proposals, and their capacity to engage culturally with their host communities.

“With its array of grants for teaching, research and graduate study, the Fulbright Program captures the generosity and advocacy, ambition and invention that uniquely characterize students at Brown,” said Joel Simundich, assistant dean of the College for fellowships. “I know this year’s recipients will live out Fulbright’s mission of fostering genuine, transformative cultural exchange, and I look forward to seeing all they will accomplish."

Brown’s newest cohort of Fulbright winners submitted project proposals to teach and conduct research in 25 countries across North and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Teaching placements include elementary schools, high schools and universities, where awardees will provide classroom instruction and share cultural perspectives between the U.S. and their host countries. Research award recipients will pursue projects in a range of academic fields, from economics to Africana studies and neuroscience.

Vast, varied and vigorous: A look into two Fulbright research projects

Cyprene Caines: Trinidad and Tobago

Class of 2023 Brown graduate Cyprene Caines’ research will take her to Trinidad and Tobago, where she will team up with faculty in the departments of English and creative writing at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.

As the recipient of a rare Fulbright research award in the humanities, Caines will use both archival materials and close reading analysis to look into the writing of various Black Trinidadian women writers such as Merle Hodge, Dionne Brand, M. NourbeSe Philip and Desiree C. Bailey — specifically the ways in which they utilized their process of literary creation as a form of activism coupled with transnational grassroots efforts.

“My aim is to give more attention to the rich body of work that has been pouring out of the islands for decades and continues to in our present moment,” Caines said, adding that the work she’ll be analyzing represents a plethora of themes, inquiries and visions that capture the multi-layered reality of what it means to be a Black woman of the islands and in the world.

It was originally her high school AP English teacher who inspired Caines — back when she was just 17 — to pursue a Fulbright scholarship in the future. The teacher herself had carried out a Fulbright in Trinidad and Tobago, and listening to her describe the experience was at once moving and motivating to Caines.

From students, to faculty, to staff, to the women who I was reading in my courses, I had been embraced in a circle of women [at Brown] who were always committed to lifting each other up in new ways each and every day.

Cyprene Caines Class of 2023
Cyprene stands in a white turtleneck and black sweater

“While I still wasn’t sure at that time what my project would be, I knew that having the chance to build a global network and curate a project that I find to be meaningful and compelling was something that I wanted to do without question,” Caines said. Choosing Trinidad and Tobago was a given, too: “Even at that age, I knew that whatever project I would develop, it would be grounded in understanding my family’s home country from a different and more nuanced lens.”

Though becoming a Fulbright Scholar has long been one of her goals, Caines’ time at Brown served as a catalyst for the development of her research project.  

As an undergraduate concentrating in Africana studies and English, she was heavily involved in the Black community at Brown, holding positions in a variety of different clubs and organizations. In the classroom, her concentrations and participation in the Rites and Reasons Theatre were particularly formative. But above all, it was the community she found at Brown that inspired her most.

“From students, to faculty, to staff, to the women who I was reading in my courses, I had been embraced in a circle of women who were always committed to lifting each other up in new ways each and every day,” Caines said. “This love that I had found from and with them made me certain that I would want to base my research interests in finding new ways to understand how Black women on a global scale form community and locate their voices through writing.”

Caines is particularly excited because this trip will mark the first time in six years she’s been able to return to her family’s home country. But this time will be different, she said, because of the resources she’ll be armed with as she settles into her research. And she doesn’t plan to stop once the grant period ends in the summer. Caines is looking toward graduate programs with a focus on writers from the Anglophone Caribbean and United States.

“I aim to become a professor and create a classroom environment that reflects the commitment to intellectual curiosity, rigor and an ethic of love and regard that was instilled in me by my wonderful professors over the course of my time at Brown,” Caines said.

Caroline Troy: Bengaluru, India

Meanwhile, over 9,000 miles away in Bengaluru, India, Class of 2022.5 Brown graduate Caroline Troy will work with ecology faculty at the Indian Institute of Science to study how urbanization affects the diversity of bat species in southern India. The country is home to around 130 species of bats, nearly a quarter of which are listed as either endangered or vulnerable.

Caroline holds a turtle
Troy's research has put her in close contact with all kinds of animals, from woodpeckers to horseshoe crabs (shown here) to, now, bats. Photo courtesy of Caroline Troy.

“To create effective conservation strategies, we need to understand which bat species can coexist with humans in developed regions and which may be threatened without habitat preservation,” said Troy, who earned her degree last December in environmental science with a focus on conservation science and policy.

In her research, Troy will utilize bat detectors, which can record the ultrasonic calls of bats, allowing her to differentiate between different species present in urban areas based on their unique calls.

It’s not her first time studying winged species. At Brown, Troy worked closely with associate professors of ecology, evolution and organismal biology Matthew Fuxjager and James Kellner to complete her senior thesis on environmental predictors of variation in woodpecker drumming behavior.

Fuxjager also served as Troy’s thesis advisor, and she said his advice and input, along with the guidance she received from Brown’s fellowship office, was invaluable.

“That introduction to bioacoustics really influenced what type of ecology research I chose to pursue in India,” she said. “It taught me a great deal about how to complete an independent research project and developed necessary skills for my Fulbright.”

Upon returning from India next summer, Troy said she plans to apply to graduate programs to further her studies in environmental science and ecology. Until then, she says she will savor every moment in the country she’ll be visiting for the first time and soak in its culture. And ever the ecologist, she’s “especially looking forward to visiting some of the national parks in the region.”

The 2023-24 recent alumni Fulbright scholars are:

  • Anna Barnett (Greece)
  • Alexandra Blitzer (India)
  • Luisa Bocconcelli (Turkey)
  • Gemma Brand-Wolf (Spain)
  • Erik Brown (Germany)
  • Cyprene Caines (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Christina Crockett (Mexico)
  • Sydney Fisher (Netherlands)
  • Mariah Guevara (Spain)
  • Christine Han (Taiwan)
  • Shantal Hernandez (Costa Rica)
  • Dylan Ines (Austria)
  • Brook Jaffe (Poland)
  • Darci Johnson (Norway)
  • Anabelle Johnston (South Korea)
  • Andy Luo (Taiwan)
  • Ava Marmor Holl (Brazil)
  • Olivia McClain (Cote d'Ivoire)
  • Bilal Memon (United Kingdom)
  • Talia Mermin (Ireland)
  • Catherine Nelli (India)
  • Samuel Nevins (Uruguay)
  • Otto Olafsson (Dominican Republic)
  • Gessy Paul (Colombia)
  • Evan Pittman (Colombia)
  • Anna Semizhonova (Germany)
  • Nina Theisen (Mexico)
  • Gabriela Treviño (Spain)
  • Caroline Troy (India)
  • Rachel Warner (Czech Republic)
  • Owen Wogmon (Cambodia)
  • Hailey Young (Botswana)

The 2023-24 graduate student Fulbright scholars are:

  • Phoebe Labat (France)
  • Owen Manahan (Mexico)
  • Bill Marino (United Kingdom)