Record-setting year for Brandeis students winning academic fellowships

Black and white headshots of students on top of a grid of Brandeis blue squares with white squiggles in them, arranged around a block reading "2024 Brandeis Academic Fellows"

Photo Credit: Illustration by Jessica Tanny

May 3, 2024

Nine undergraduates, two graduate students, and three alumni received prestigious scholarships this spring.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awarded scholarships to 10 Brandeisians in 2024, a new record for the university. Daniel Block ’25 became Brandeis’ 11th Truman Scholar, the first in 16 years; he was also named Brandeis’ second ever Udall Scholar. Daniel Chodorow ’24 won a Boren Award, and Gauri Gajeshwar and Caelen Hilty, both ’25, each earned a Goldwater Scholarship.

The 10 Fulbright winners become part of the largest U.S. exchange program, which offers opportunities for graduate study, research, and teaching in more than 140 countries outside the United States. Congress created the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in 1946 to foster understanding between the U.S. and other countries, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns. This year’s recipients are Emily Bischoff ’22, Erickson Comas Hernandez ’24, Hannah Davies ’22, Rachel Guaderrama GSAS PhD’28, Shannon Horgan Heller MA’24, Jessica Kent ’09, Annitah Nakandi ’24, Roshni Ray ’24, Miranda (Andie) Sheinbaum ’24, and Isabelle Shiiba ’24.

This year, Block is one of only 60 students nationwide to be named a Truman Scholar, which carries a $30,000 award. The honor recognizes college juniors who demonstrate outstanding potential for a career in public service. The $7,000 Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, which Block also won, recognizes leadership promise in the environmental, tribal public policy, and health-care fields. During this year’s spring semester, through the School for Field Studies, Block studied abroad in Tanzania, where he conducted a grassland health assessment in the Burunge Wildlife Management Area. After college, he plans to pursue a combined degree in law and environmental management, then lead regulatory efforts at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chodorow will use his Boren Award — which provides up to $30,000 to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students for language study in areas of the world critical to U.S. interests — to study Turkish in Azerbaijan. Majoring in politics with a minor in Arabic literature, language, and culture, Chodorow began learning Arabic in 2019 with the support of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. Since then, he has studied abroad in Jordan and held research internships with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the U.S. Department of State.

Gajeshwar and Hilty each won a $7,500 Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. They are the 25th and 26th Brandeis undergraduates to become Goldwater Scholars since 1989, when the first scholarships were conferred.

Gajeshwar, a biochemistry and biology double major, is conducting an independent project at the forefront of biochemistry, dynamical systems, and active matter. Her goal is understanding how patterns emerge in living systems by mimicking the chemo-mechanical feedback that drives pattern formation in development.

Hilty, a neuroscience major, has conducted research in several Brandeis labs, including that of biology professor Paul Miller, where he modeled how large-scale neural dynamics result in computational abilities.

The Office of Academic Fellowships at Brandeis helps students and alumni learn about and apply for a wide range of transformative opportunities in all disciplines. “Whether you know exactly where you want to go and what you want to do, or whether you’re still imagining the possibilities, applying for a fellowship can help you reflect on your achievements, examine your values, and map out a clear path forward to an ambitious future,” said executive director Meredith Monaghan.