Brandeisians win prominent grants and fellowships

Boren, Goldwater and Fulbright logos

Brandeis undergraduates and recent alumni have been awarded some of the most prestigious academic scholarships and fellowships available this spring.

Each academic year, the Academic Fellowships team, which includes director Meredith Monaghan and assistant director Elizabeth Rotolo, guides hundreds of Brandeis students and alumni interested in pursuing fellowships in finding the best opportunities to supplement their academic experience, identifying sources of funding, and helping them develop competitive applications.

“Even in difficult times, Brandeis students and alumni are creative and bold as they strive toward excellence in the classroom and beyond,” Monaghan said. “Despite being physically distanced from one another right now, Brandeisians remain connected, collaborating with faculty and staff on research projects, senior theses, and applications for fellowships and internships. These meaningful relationships are part of what make Brandeis so special, and enable our students to make lasting connections and invaluable contributions to the world.”

The following students have been awarded fellowships and scholarships:

Shinji Rho '21 has been named one of only 396 Goldwater Scholars nationwide. A junior pursuing a dual BS/MS in biochemistry with a minor in chemistry, Rho has maintained a 4.0 GPA every semester while also working in microbiology professor Jeff Gelles' lab on an independent research project spanning more than two years. She has also served as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry and general chemistry lab, and was a recipient of a Division of Science Summer Research Grant, the Giumette Academic Achievement Award and the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Scholarship. In addition, Rho is a certified EMT for BEMCo and the layout designer for The Justice. Rho intends to pursue a doctoral degree in cancer biology en route to a career in cancer research.

The Goldwater Scholarship fosters outstanding students in their sophomore and junior year to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. It is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Rho is the 22nd Brandeis undergraduate student to have earned this distinction since 1989, and the fourth in the last seven years.

Micah Pickus '20 has received a Boren Scholarship to study Russian language in Kazakhstan beginning in January 2021. Pickus is majoring in Russian studies with minors in politics and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, and is writing his senior honors thesis on the importance of nuclear modernization to Putin's domestic and foreign policy. He participated in the Russian Language Immersion Program through Middlebury College in the summer of 2018 and has won a grant from the Melikian Center to continue his language study through Arizona State University this summer. Pickus has also worked at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and at the Matlock Archives in Durham, NC, conducting research in both English and Russian. He intends to work as a Russian language analyst in the service of the U.S. government and its citizens, with a focus on arms control and Russian influence in the Middle East.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Pickus is the fifth recipient of the Boren Scholarship from Brandeis in the last 10 years. 

Troia Reyes-Stone '17 was named a Marshall Scholar in December. With the scholarship, Reyes-Stone plans to pursue a master of science degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy at Oxford University, and a master of public policy degree at the London School of Economics. Troia graduated summa cum laude with dual majors in International and Global Studies (for which she earned highest honors) and East Asian Studies, along with a minor in Politics, and she also participated in the Brandeis in The Hague program, where she focused on human rights and conducted an internship at Parliamentarians for Global Action. While at Brandeis, Troia volunteered as an English tutor for immigrant Latina mothers while completing a senior thesis on the Kellogg Briand Pact, which was an extension of research conducted in her junior year as part of the highly selective Schiff Undergraduate Fellows Program. After graduation Troia spent a year in Mexico through the Fulbright Bi-National Internship Program, where she worked at Solcargo, a Mexican corporate law firm, and took classes at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). After her Fulbright grant, Troia spent a year working as a Legislative Fellow on Capitol Hill for Representative Matt Cartwright, and more recently became a Press Assistant at the House Democratic Caucus.

The Marshall Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships for American citizens, funding students who wish to pursue graduate study in the United Kingdom. Troia Reyes-Stone is the fifth Brandeisian to win a Marshall Scholarship. 

The following alumni were awarded grants through the Fulbright program:

Riley Sandberg '15 has been awarded a Fulbright Research grant to Germany, where she will work with the Talking Robots Group in the Multilinguality and Language Technology Lab at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), to study how social robots can be used to provide tailored, one-on-one second language lessons to migrant and native German-speaking children. After graduating cum laude with a degree in psychology, Sandberg worked in the Education Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and in several different research positions at the University of California, Los Angeles, including the CONNECT Center for Innovation in Elementary Education. After the grant, Sandberg hopes to bring educational best practices for social robots back to UCLA, which will inform their work with migrant children, and guide future avenues of research in partnership with the DFKI. Longer-term, she intends to pursue a doctoral degree in human-computer interaction with an emphasis on educational technology and cultural and linguistic differences in human-robot interactions.

Tremaine Smith '17 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Sri Lanka. While at Brandeis, Smith majored in African and African American studies and education studies, was a member of the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program, a coordinator for the Brandeis Bridges program, a family engagement and community outreach intern with Waltham High School, and a recipient of the Karpf & Hahn Peace Grant. He has also worked as a camp counselor in Turkey, served as a school and community resource volunteer with the Peace Corps in South Africa, and taught English in China. After his Fulbright year, Smith intends to pursue a joint JD/MA in international affairs, and hopes to work with the U.S. Department of State in order to influence cultural and educational programming.

Additionally, seven students and alumni were named alternates for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program: Tamar Harrison ’20 (ETA, Thailand), Alexander Herbert PhD ’24 (Research, Russia), Sohaima Khilji ’20 (ETA, Taiwan), Miranda Lassar ’20 (ETA, Thailand), Evan Robins ’20 (Research, Latvia), Nina Rosenblatt ’19 (ETA, Mexico), and Nicholas Yamamoto PhD ’24 (Research, Netherlands).

Categories: International Affairs, Student Life

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