April 21, 2017

Purdue students offered highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants

Theresa Saenz Theresa Saenz
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Three Purdue University students have been offered prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to Germany, Poland and Ukraine. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the most renowned U.S. program for students and young professionals to forge ties to foreign countries. It operates in more than 140 countries and fully funds a post-baccalaureate year abroad.

Theresa Saenz of Michigan City, Indiana, will travel to Germany to work in the famous Fraunhofer Institut. She hopes to conduct research that improves renewable energy sources, specifically the efficiency of solar panels. The Purdue senior is studying materials engineering in the College of Engineering and is also a member of Purdue Honors College.

“Solar energy is an incredibly well-suited resource for powering the developing world, where power is needed the most,” Saenz said. 

At Fraunhofer, she plans to investigate ways to improve the quality of the materials used in solar cells, develop new materials for use in solar applications and devise ways to help solar cells absorb more light. Materials engineering professor Elliott Slamovich says Saenz’s work reflects a degree of sophistication he usually only sees among top graduate students.

“She is very creative in her approach to research and is not discouraged when things do not go as planned; she simply assesses the situation and then decides on a plan of action,” he said.  “I have truly enjoyed working with her because she combines the curiosity and risk taking of a free spirit with the intellect and maturity of a dedicated scholar.”

Andre Woloshuk Andre Woloshuk
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Andre Woloshuk of West Lafayette, Indiana will spend one year teaching English to graduate students at a STEM university in Poland. The aspiring physician believes connecting with people from different backgrounds and exchanging ideas about American culture, language and health will be critical to a career in medicine. Woloshuk has deferred medical school for a year and hopes to also shadow physicians in Polish clinics during his Fulbright tenure.

“I want to use my enhanced knowledge of the language to learn about the rich history of innovation in Poland and ultimately connect with my ethnic roots,” Woloshuk said.  “I have studied health-care advances in the U.S. and globally, and am especially interested in how the doctor-patient relationship has changed since its democratic transition, as well as how it compares to the U.S.”

The senior is studying biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. George R. Wodicka, Dane A. Miller Head and Professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, says Woloshuk is one of the school’s top students, not just for his academic performance, but for his exceptional service and character.

“Andre generously applies his gifts in the service of others,” Wodicka said. “While at Purdue, he co-developed a prosthetic ankle for amputees in developing countries, mentored a dozen Purdue students during their transition from high school to college and conducted undergraduate research in the area of drug delivery. Beyond these achievements, Andre is known for his helpful nature, calm leadership, lively intellect and strong professional work ethic. We are very proud of him and the work he has done at Purdue and know that he is on the cusp of a promising career.”

Amber Nickell Amber Nickell
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Amber Nickell, a native of Greeley, Colorado, will spend a year in Ukraine collecting oral histories as she examines the changing relationships between ethnic German and Jewish populations in Southern Ukraine and the Crimea from 1917-79. Nickell is pursuing a doctorate in history at the Graduate School at Purdue and argues that the Soviet government’s extreme post-revolutionary policies drove a wedge between the two groups, which the Nazis later capitalized on.

“Amber is a self-driven, highly disciplined student with the maturity and sensitivity necessary for the forbidding research area she has chosen,” said Purdue history professor Rebekah Klein-Pejsova. “She has drawn enormous strength from her own complex personal struggles and has gleaned from them just exactly what is at stake in writing and teaching the history of the violent upheavals of the 20th century.” 

Nickell plans to share the oral histories she collects in a local archive, so Ukrainians and foreign researchers have access to them. She will also spend time digitizing documents to help preserve state archives.

Students applying for Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards undergo a rigorous application process through the National and International Scholarships Office, which is housed in Purdue Honors College. NISO helps develop student-scholars’ skills as they prepare their applications.

U.S. students interested in a Fulbright scholarship abroad during the 2018-19 academic year begin preparing their applications with NISO now.

Contact: Lindsay Perrault, 765-427-1923, lindsayperrault@purdue.edu 

Sources: Elliott Slamovich, 765-494-6853, elliotts@purdue.edu

George Wodicka, 765-494-2998, wodicka@purdue.edu

Rebekah Klein-Pejsova, 765-494-4132, rkleinpe@purdue.edu

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