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Eight UGA students awarded Fulbright travel-study grants

Athens, Ga. – Eight University of Georgia students were awarded international travel-study grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Seven of the students accepted the scholarships. Recipients of the U.S. Student Full Grants, which cover research, study and creative opportunities, include two students who recently earned undergraduate degrees at UGA: spring 2013 graduate Katherine Lacksen of Sparta; and fall 2012 graduate Tierney O’Sullivan of Roswell.

Two current doctoral students also received Full Grants: Derek Bentley of Fayetteville; and Gregory Moss of Lawrenceville.

The English Teaching Assistantship Grants, which place recipients in K-12 schools and universities to serve as language-learning assistants, were given to three students who recently earned undergraduate degrees at UGA: spring 2013 graduate Geoffrey Nolan of Oxford; spring 2012 graduate Alyson Pittman of Bainbridge; and spring 2013 graduate Melissa Siegel of Atlanta.

For the past 67 years, the Fulbright Program has provided students, scholars and professionals an opportunity to pursue advanced research projects, graduate study and teaching assistantships in more than 140 countries worldwide. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students.

“These prestigious grants are a testament to the exceptional talent of UGA students, among the most competitive in the nation, and UGA’s serious commitment to international education,” said Maria de Rocher, campus Fulbright U.S. Student Program adviser and program coordinator in the Honors Program.

Bentley, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in modern history, will travel to Mexico City to continue research for his dissertation on the country’s economic transformation in the 1970s and the origins of Mexican neoliberalism. “I am most looking forward to the opportunity to immerse myself in Mexican society and culture, and the chance to regularly see friends with whom I have only limited contact while in the United States,” said Bentley.

Lacksen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in ecology, will be in Darwin, Australia studying nutrient pollution in the country’s tropical rivers. “There has been very little research about the effects of nutrient pollution from agricultural development in Northern Australia,” said Lacksen. “I will collect data to analyze which forms of nutrient pollution pose the greatest threat to this iconic ecosystem.” Lacksen, a former member of UGA’s cross country and track teams, is also looking forward to volunteering with the Indigenous Marathon Program, which prepares Aboriginal community members to run the New York Marathon, while promoting exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Moss, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in philosophy, will travel to Bonn, Germany to study the links between German philosophers Schelling and Hegel. He is interested in examining how Schelling’s early work influenced Hegel’s famed work “The Science of Logic.” Moss was invited to Germany by Markus Gabriel, professor of philosophy at Rheinische Frederich-Wilhelms Universitat Bonn and co-founder of the North American Schelling Society. “Not only does Dr. Gabriel share my research interests, but he also understands the intimate connections between German idealism and ancient Greek philosophy, a central component to my research methodology,” said Moss.

Nolan, who recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and Spanish, will travel to Colombia to teach English at la Universidad del Norte in Baranquilla. When he’s not teaching, he will volunteer for nonprofits working to improve education in the wake of the country’s decades-long unrest. “I am excited to see firsthand the excellent work these nonprofits are undertaking to ensure that the children of Colombia have access to education,” Nolan said. “I also am enthusiastically waiting to participate in all things that will give me an authentic cultural experience.”

O’Sullivan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in ecology, will be working on the island state of Tasmania, examining the role the environment plays in the breeding success of the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, the largest bird of prey in Australia. “In the future, I am interested in looking for answers to a fundamental dilemma in conservation-how to provide the most effective management of the entire ecosystem with limited funding and resources,” she said. “My work in Tasmania will serve as an ideal basis for these career goals by providing experience with not only academia, but also the management component of conservation.”

Pittman, who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in economics and English literature, will serve as an English teaching assistant in Rwanda. In addition to teaching, Pittman will study the way that the expansion of educational opportunities for females influences the economic growth of Rwanda. “The Fulbright ETA offers me the opportunity blend my interests and experiences in economic development in the East African region with my qualifications as an English language classroom instructor,” she said.

Siegel, who earned bachelor’s degrees in political science, French and sociology, will travel to Malaysia to teach English. “I am most looking forward to getting to know the local community and my students,” said Siegel. “I love learning foreign languages, so it will be interesting to take on the role as a teacher in the classroom. I can’t wait to discover this exciting part of the world.” When her teaching assignment in Malaysia concludes, Siegel said she’ll travel around Southeast Asia before returning stateside to study international affairs in graduate school.

For more information on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, see or contact Maria de Rocher at