UChicago graduate students win the most Fulbright grants by a wide margin

Ten graduate students at the University of Chicago were awarded Fulbright-Hays grants this year to continue their dissertation research abroad for a period of six to 12 months. UChicago graduate students lead the nation in the number of Fulbright-Hays awards and in total funding, with a combined grant total of $448,899.

“Our graduate students do cutting-edge research in every field, and their international footprint is already enormous,” said Deborah Nelson, Deputy Provost for Graduate Education. “Their competitive advantage in the job market and the expertise they have in their fields is only augmented by funding from the Fulbright-Hays grants.”

The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grants are awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to help the nation understand areas of the world not generally included in standard curricula. Amy Wilson, the senior officer for the program in the Department of Education, said they are especially open to proposals that speak to the pressing needs of people in strategic regions such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East and East Central Europe. The Department of Education announced this year's awards in October.

“These fellowships are extremely competitive and we continue to receive high-level research proposals,” Wilson said. This year, the Department of Education received 380 eligible applications, and awarded fellowships to 84 graduate students. With the exception of one year, UChicago students have been the top recipients of Fulbright-Hays fellowships for over two decades.

Among this year’s winners is Natalja Czarnecki, an anthropology doctoral student who is working on a dissertation about the relationship that people in the Republic of Georgia have with their food supply. How much they trust their food can be a measurement of their broader trust in their government and economy, she believes.

“The Southern Caucasus are an interesting geopolitical case study, bridging Central Asia and Europe, but generally trying to orient themselves toward Europe,” Czarnecki said. The Fulbright-Hays funding will allow her to work with anthropologists and food safety experts in Tbilisi for a year. She said she is thankful for this opportunity.

Patrick Kelly, a PhD student in history who is writing a dissertation about the rise of human rights activism in response to violence in South America in the 1970s, also won a Fulbright-Hays this year. His in-field research on this topic began last summer, when he travelled to various places that had suffered under repressive military dictatorships. With the Fulbright funding, he will go to Mexico, Brazil, and Switzerland for more intense research on why people across the world began to care about human rights violations in Latin America.

“The chance to return to these places and continue my work with local archives and universities will make my dissertation stronger,” Kelly said. He hopes eventually to turn the research into a book.

Kelly’s adviser, Prof. Mark Phillip Bradley, and people in the Graduate Student Affairs office helped him articulate and refine his proposal, for which Kelly says he is deeply grateful. “Graduate students can sometimes feel as if they were on their own,” he said, “but I got a strong sense that I was supported by the University 100 percent.” 

The 10 winners of the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship from UChicago and their field and topic:

  • Adrian Anagnost, Art History: “Art and Participation in the Brazilian Republic of ’46”
  • Natalja Czarnecki, Anthropology: “Food-Consumer Encounters: Trust, Uncertainty, and Transition in Post-Socialist Georgia”
  • Erin Glade, History: “We Are Not Enemies of Culture: Literature, Modernization and the Expansion of American Soft Power in Nasser’s Egypt, 1952-1967”
  • Patrick Kelly, History: “Transnational Human Rights Advocacy in the Southern Cone in the Long 1970s”
  • Christopher Markiewicz, History: “Statesmen and Scholars in the Creation of Empire: Concepts of Ottoman Rulership, 1453-1520”
  • Michelle Maydanchik, Art History: "Creative Disruption: Performance Art in Post-Soviet Moscow”
  • Covell Meyskens, History: “Preparing for a War That Never Happened: Political Economy and Cold War Social Life”
  • Michal Ran-Rubin, Anthropology: “The Nature of Citizenship: Cultivating Political Subjects in Israel-Palestine”
  • Travis Warner, Political Science: “The Electoral Connection in the Chinese Countryside: Top-Down Accountability and Rural Governance”
  • Jake Werner, History: “Making Mass Society in Shanghai: Cultural and Economic Transformation among ‘The People,’ 1949-1957”