Note: This article is over a year old and information contained in it may no longer be accurate. Please use the contact information in the lower-left corner to verify any information in this article.

Nine students win Fulbrights

By Catherine Monson '12
May 17, 2012

St. Olaf seniors (from left) Eric Becklin, Julia Coffin, Zachary Erickson, Lisa Drewry, Cecilia Noecker, Virginia Ma, Jamie Mosel, and Sarah McGivern have been named Fulbright fellows for 2012–13 (Ma was named an alternate). Sarah Chao '11 and Jonathan Henn (not pictured) were also accepted into the prestigious program.

Nine St. Olaf students have been named Fulbright fellows for 2012–13 — the same number as last year and the most students the college has ever had accepted into the prestigious program in a single year.

Six of the students will use their Fulbright awards to conduct research on topics ranging from Chinese archaeology to the dengue virus. The other three students will take on English teaching assistantships.

This year all but one of the St. Olaf Fulbright recipients are seniors. They bring the college's Fulbright total to 88 since 1995.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the Department of State and awards more than 1,500 grants to U.S. students every year. The program operates in more than 140 countries, seeking to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries" and "contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns." Program participants are chosen based on many factors, including leadership potential and academic merit.

The Fulbright recipients and their projects:
Eric Becklin will study archaeological artifacts left behind by 13th-century Nestorian Christians in Quanzhou, China. He will collaborate with a professor at Fujian Normal University in Fuzhou, China.

Sarah Chao '11 will work as an English teaching assistant at Irkutsk State Linguistic University in Irkutsk, Russia. Apart from teaching, she will volunteer in a local orphanage. Chao has also received a Critical Language Enhancement Award, which funds an extra three to six months of intensive language study prior to her teaching assistantship.

Julia Coffin will also have an English teaching assistantship in Nepal, helping students increase their language proficiency. She will also be in charge of an after-school leadership program for girls.

Lisa Drewry will conduct her research at the University of Würzburg in Germany, investigating interactions between proteins and small non-coding RNA molecules in pathogenic Salmonella enterica bacteria.

Zachary Erickson will join a synthetic chemistry group at the University of Giessen in Germany. His research will further the field of sustainable chemistry by developing new compounds for use in industrial and academic reactions.

Jonathan Henn will study the restoration of forests destroyed by invasive North American beavers in Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago off the southernmost tip of Argentina.

Sarah McGivern will work in Turkey as an English teaching assistant. In her time outside the classroom, she hopes to empower young women and practice her Turkish language skills in a recreational setting by coaching a youth soccer team.

Jamie Mosel will research the effects of global warming on plant succession and northern forest ecosystems at the Hokkaido University Silviculture and Forest Ecology Lab in Japan.

Cecilia Noecker will work at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, using molecular biology and statistical modeling to study how genetic resistance to severe dengue infection affects transmission of the virus.

One St. Olaf student, Virginia Ma, was named a Fulbright alternate, while Annika Tohlen '11 harenewed the English teaching assistantship award at Yalova University in Turkey that she received last year.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or