May 17, 2019
Four Fulbright Scholars Share Dietrich College Connection
By Heidi Opdyke
Four seniors with majors or minors in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences have been named Fulbright Scholars.
Siddharth Annaldasula, Yoobin Chee, Bronwyn Donohue and Jessica Jue are among CMU’s six Fulbright award winners this year.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries." Winners are selected based on a number of factors, including their proposal, called a "Statement of Grant Purpose," academic record and personal qualifications.
CMU's Fellowships and Scholarships Office provides support to students who are interested in applying for nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships.
"Fulbright is a wonderful award, especially since it attracts from a wide swath of disciplines that draws on the strengths of our campus," said Stephanie Wallach, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education and head of the Undergraduate Research Office.
Wallach said students are increasingly coming to CMU with a host of diverse interests and a refreshing willingness to explore internationally.
"Students at CMU seek out opportunities that are going to expand their understanding of themselves and the contributions they hope to make in their professional lives and our campus nurtures this exploration and experimentation," Wallach said. "That's what makes them such strong candidates for the Fulbright Scholarship."
Richelle Bernazzoli, CMU's assistant director of undergraduate research and national fellowships, said the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a crucial mode of cultural exchange between the United States and the rest of the world. Participants become valued members of their host communities and build long-lasting relationships through their work.
"We are incredibly proud that so many Carnegie Mellon students have been and continue to be a part of this esteemed tradition," Bernazzoli said.
Siddharth Annaldasula, Class of 2019, bachelor of science in computational biology with a minor in neuroscience
Annaldasula will be studying transcriptional regulation in cell differentiation models using computational methods with Dr. Andreas Mayer at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics in Berlin as part of his Fulbright Study/Research Grant.
"I will be looking at mechanisms behind the pausing of transcription in cell developmental models," Annaldasula said. "These results could provide insight into the pausing epigenetic mechanisms that occur in many diseases, including cancer and other disorders."
Annaldasula said CMU has helped him along the way by providing needed tools to excel at various opportunities.
"The knowledge I learned from my classes, research and experiences at CMU allowed me to be successful at internships and research fellowships, including presenting at various conferences, as well as my future career plans," he said. "Personally, CMU has constantly challenged and always required me to be my best. However, CMU has also allowed me to pursue other goals, such as service and outreach."
Annaldasula said he chose Germany because it is a frontrunner for cutting-edge research in fields he is interested in, especially computational biology, genomics and neuroscience.
"Also, I love the culture and food, and I'm a fan of the Bundesliga soccer league - Borussia Dortmund are one of my favorite teams!" he said.
Yoobin Chee, Class of 2019, bachelor of science in psychology and a minor in gender studies
Chee will study cross-cultural perceptions of mental health in South Korea as part of her Fulbright Study/Research Grant.
"As a native-born Korean and an early immigrant to the U.S., it has been a long-term goal of mine to return to my home country," Chee said. "There is an especially prominent need for more psychology research in Korea as stigma against mental health is highly prevalent and there exists a significant lack of mental health care resources compared to North America. Through the Fulbright grant, I aim to gain a better understanding of culturally appropriate interventions in order to support individuals with psychological disorders."
Chee said she has been extremely fortunate to work under amazing faculty at CMU throughout her undergraduate career.
"I was able to embed myself in various fields of psychology research through my work in clinical, developmental and social psychology research labs at CMU and UPMC. Additionally, pursuing an honors thesis under the direction of Dr. Vicki Helgeson has taught me how to independently design and execute a research project. Through my diverse research opportunities, I was able to solidify my passion for supporting individuals with psychological disorders. "
Chee said once she returns to the U.S. she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Bronwyn Donohue, a 2018 alumna with a bachelor of fine arts in directing and minors in film and German studies
Donohue has deep ties to Germany and the Fulbright program.
"Fulbright first had a major impact on my life when I was just 18 months old. At that time, my mum received a Fulbright to do research in Jena, Germany," Donohue said. "Eighteen years later, during my junior year, I spent a semester in Berlin studying and furthering my love of contemporary German theater. When I decided to apply for a Fulbright, Germany seemed inevitable."
Donohue will be researching the theory and practice of two heavily practiced types of experimental theater in Germany: Regietheater (Director's theatre) and Postdramatic Theatre. She will be working Professor Jan Lazardzig, an expert in experimental theatre at the Freie Universität Berlin and by observing the rehearsal process of four of Germany's top directors.
The project will culminate in her creating a guide for young American directors. She said she discovered my passion for contemporary German theatre with the help of Jed Allen Harris, an associate teaching professor in the John Wells Directing Program, and she translated three German plays with aid from the German department.
"I never would have been developed enough as an artist or an academic to be competitive for such an honor as Fulbright without CMU," Donohue said.
Jessica Jue, Class of 2019, bachelor of science in biological sciences with an additional major in Chinese Studies
Jue will be teaching English in Taiwan, but she said she is excited to spend a year abroad immersed in Chinese, which she has studied her entire life.
"For me, participating in the Fulbright program in Taiwan will not only be a cultural exchange, but a linguistic one as well," said Jue, who is planning to apply for medical school in the future.
She said CMU's flexibility has allowed her to simultaneously pursue two very unrelated academic interests.
"I feel like the interdisciplinary environment of the school allowed me to be pre-med yet also pursue interests like teaching and learning Chinese. If I were confined to 'traditional' pre-med activities, I don't think I would have found the Fulbright program," she said.
Studying abroad can have a broad impact on a person's experience, Jue said, including helping with skills that can aid medical professionals.
"It helps you understand the lives and culture of people unlike yourself. It makes you more understanding of differences and compassionate toward others," she said.
Jue follows the footsteps of Tim Gao, a 2017 CMU alumnus, who was her former biochemistry EXCEL leader. Gao, who taught English in Taiwan through the Fulbright ETA program from 2017-2018, answered many of her questions about the process, as did Bernazzoli.
"I can't thank them enough," Jue said.
Read about all of CMU’s 2019 Fulbright award winners