Carnegie Mellon University
June 01, 2011

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Breaks Record for Most Fulbright Scholars in One Year

Seven Recent Graduates, One Rising Junior Embark On Travels, Studies Across Four Continents

Contact: Abby Houck / 412-268-4290 /

PITTSBURGH—Ready to make their mark on the world, seven recent Carnegie Mellon University graduates have accepted Fulbright Scholarships to study, research or teach in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe.

According to the Fulbright U.S. Fellows Directory, Carnegie Mellon has been home to a total of 36 Fulbright Scholars since 1995, with 2011 marking the highest number of recipients the university has produced in any one year.

"This has been an extraordinary year at Carnegie Mellon for Fulbright awards," said Stephanie Wallach, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education and director of the Fellowships and Scholarship Office (FSO) and Undergraduate Research Office. "Several factors contributed to this success: Excellent candidates in a broad range of disciplines and strong guidance from Fulbright Adviser Elisa Tragni Maloney and FSO Assistant Director Jennifer Keating-Miller. Our students also received substantive feedback from a variety of faculty members that greatly improved the quality of their proposals."     

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, sponsors the U.S. Student Fulbright Program to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries."

"Interestingly, many of our winners have deferred acceptance to graduate school," Wallach said. "Students recognize how important this opportunity is to their broader education, and the universities where they are headed for graduate school also recognize the prestige and value of the Fulbright experience."

In addition, rising junior Cate Yu is one of 40 undergraduate students who have been selected to participate in the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission's Wales Summer Institute.

The following are descriptions of the recipients' Fulbright plans:

Eda Akyar of East Brunswick, N.J. (CMU'11):  A graduate of the Science and Humanities Scholars Program with a major in biological sciences, Akyar will teach high school students in Indonesia as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program.

"For four years, I have taught newly arrived refugees English, reading, writing, math and science," Akyar said. "I am excited to use my skills from past experiences to teach young children in their home country, while learning about a new culture."

Upon returning to the United States, she will pursue a graduate degree at the Yale School of Public Health's Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases Division and then plans to apply to medical school.

Steve Aro of Silver Spring, Md. (MCS'11): An alumnus of the Department of Chemistry, Aro will travel to Australia to conduct research on enhancing the performance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with magnetic nanoparticles.

"As the problems society faces increase in complexity, science becomes more collaborative," Aro said. "This opportunity will allow me to meet a lot of talented scientists and work with some of them."

After the Fulbright program, Aro will pursue a doctoral degree in materials chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University.

Eleanor Erney of Columbus, Ohio (TPR/HS'11):
Erney, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon's Business Administration and International Relations programs, will conduct research on the oil relationship between Italy and Russia at the University of Bolonga.

"The project began as my senior thesis work, but I quickly realized that there was information I could not access in the United States. A lot of journals and newspapers in Italy are not available electronically in the same way as American ones," Erney said.

She will attend George Washington School of Law in Washington, D.C following her Fulbright experience.

Jane Herriman of Plymouth, Mich. (MCS/HS'11): This recent graduate of the Chemistry and Modern Languages departments will be conducting research at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Her work will focus on implementing nanomaterials in solar technology. 

"I chose this opportunity because I was able to find a great adviser with fantastic research in a region where I will be able to use French," Herriman said. "The research that I will do in Switzerland will be highly relevant to the research I intend to pursue in grad school."

After her Fulbright year, Herriman will pursue a doctoral degree in materials science at California Institute of Technology.

Adam Jaffe of Atlanta (BHA'07, A'10): This talented musician completed a Bachelor of Arts and Humanities degree as well as a master's degree in piano performance from Carnegie Mellon. As a Fulbright Scholar, Jaffe will expand his repertoire while studying harpsichord and early music performance in the Netherlands.

"The Royal Conservatory of The Hague is home to one of the largest and best early music programs in the world," Jaffe said. "Having a chance to be immersed in the culture with 200 other early music specialists will be an invaluable experience for me."
Jaffe plans to organize a series of concerts and master classes in several U.S. cities following his Fulbright experience. He then will return to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague to complete a degree program.
Anna Lenhart of Hagerstown, Md. (CIT'11): This Civil and Environmental Engineering Department alumna will be studying biogas digestion and waste management at the University of Namibia. Her goal is to propose village waste management solutions for Namibia's Ongwediva Township.

"I want to work for social change and environmental sustainability on a global scale, and eventually I want to be a professor," Lenhart said. "In the summer of 2007, I was interning in Uganda and saw heaps of trash on the streets. I knew that finding a way to keep waste in a close-loop cycle was imperative, especially in the developing world."

Marianna Sofman of Allen, Texas (CIT'11): Sofman, who completed majors in materials science and engineering as well as biomedical engineering, will travel to the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig, Germany.

"I will be working on the development of a rapid, low-cost infection diagnostics system called MinoLab," Sofman said. "I wanted to take a year off before graduate school, and conducting research abroad seemed like the perfect transition."

Sofman will pursue a doctoral degree in biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when she returns to the United States.

Catherine Yu of Brick, N.J. (HS'13): Yu will be studying the economic and political history of Wales at three U.K. universities, visiting landmarks and participating in cultural activities as part of the Fulbright Commission's Wales Summer Institute. She is a rising junior with majors in international relations and politics as well as French and Francophone studies.

"I think the only way to truly learn about a country is to study it from within," Yu said. "Whether I end up working for an international nonprofit, a consultancy, or an academic institution, these are skills that will help me throughout my career."

In addition to the above recipients, Adam Conkey (HS'11), who majored in philosophy, has been named an alternate Fulbright Scholar to Germany.