Julia Mongo | Office of Distinguished Fellowships
Published by MIT News on May 19, 2022
This article was updated on July 22 to reflect the addition of alternate winners and their decisions.
Fourteen MIT undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni have been awarded Fulbright fellowships to pursue projects overseas in the 2022-23 grant year. Two other MIT affiliates were offered awards but declined them to pursue other opportunities.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers grants in over 150 countries for independent research, graduate study, and English teaching. MIT students and alumni interested in applying should contact Julia Mongo in Distinguished Fellowships in Career Advising and Professional Development.
Zachary Alfaro ’21 graduated with double majors in political science and finance. Growing up in Edinburg, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, he always dreamed of seeing the world. At the University of São Paulo, he will conduct research on the supply chains of pirarucu, açai, Brazil nuts, and cocoa, in order to develop strong, sustainable supply chains to bring wealth and prosperity to producers in the Amazon rainforest. At MIT, Alfaro co-founded the MIT Political Review, was a member of the MIT Bhangra team, and taught internationally in Italy and also in Jerusalem through the Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow. Before traveling to Brazil, Alfaro will spend six months in Mexico City working with the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness.
Caleb Amanfu ’21 graduated with double majors in architecture and engineering. As the recipient of the Delft University of Technology’s Industrial Design Engineering Award, Amanfu is eager to journey to the Netherlands to pursue a master’s degree in integrated product design. He is currently an instructor for MIT’s class 2.00b (Toy Product Design) and is enjoying being involved in both teaching and learning in the world of design. He also enjoys video creation and is excited to explore the Netherlands himself as well as through his camera lens. After Fulbright, Amanfu intends to continue his pursuit of knowledge in the field of product design and other creative endeavors.
Julia Caravias will graduate this spring with a major in computer science, economics, and data science and minors in sustainability and statistics. At the Technical University of Munich in Germany, Caravias will conduct research on optimization models to study the efficient allocation of electric vehicle charging stations. At MIT, Caravias pursued her interest in using computational models to inform sustainable development through her research at the Environmental Solutions Initiative and D-Lab. She was also a member of the varsity women’s volleyball team, Terrascope, and Alpha Phi sorority.
Prosser Cathey is a junior studying mathematical economics, political science, and management who will graduate this May. He grew up in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, where his parents instilled in him the importance of serving his community. This led to his interest in economics and climate change, the focus of his Fulbright research in Germany. In Munich, Cathey will study whether working a green job affects one’s support for public policies to combat climate change. Previously, he interned in the White House for the Council of Economic Advisors, was a Burchard Scholar and Pressman Award recipient, and was a member of MIT’s D1 Heavyweight Crew Team, where he won a gold medal at Head of the Charles. Cathey is also the co-founder of a nonprofit that has been recognized by Schmidt Futures and the founder of a startup backed by Y Combinator.
Kylie Yui Dan is a senior majoring in physics with minors in astronomy and Japanese. She has been passionate about studying the universe since childhood. Her Fulbright fellowship will take her to Japan, where she will study galaxies at Hiroshima University. As half-Japanese, Dan hopes that this experience will help her connect more with her family and culture. Outside of research, Dan has spent her time tutoring children of all ages, running a mentorship program between physics undergrad and graduate students at MIT, and helping to plan Tsukimi and Hanami, MIT’s semesterly Japanese festivals. After her time in Japan, Dan will head to University of Maryland, where she will start a PhD in astrophysics.
An Jimenez ’21 earned a BS in computation and cognition from MIT in February 2021 and completes her MEng degree with the MIT Human Cooperation Lab this spring. A recipient of the Fulbright Chile Science Initiative award, Jimenez will collaborate with the Center for Experimental Social Sciences at the University of Santiago to understand public attitudes toward the Covid-19 vaccine using machine learning techniques. Beyond research, Jimenez has instructed over 100 students for MIT’s flagship technical communication course for electrical engineering and computer science students; taught science and engineering courses to over 400 students in Jordan, Chile, and South Africa through MIT’s Global Teaching Labs; and biked across the country with MIT Spokes. Between graduation and the Fulbright fellowship, Jimenez will work at a tech impact startup in Amsterdam.
Kevin Lujan Lee is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, he will study how Pasifika-serving community organizations produce the boundaries of Indigeneity, race, and ethnicity within which low-wage Pasifika workers navigate the institutions of labor market regulation. This will comprise one-half of his broader dissertation project — a comparative study of Indigenous Pacific Islanders and low-wage work in 21st-century empires. His research is only made possible by activists in the U.S. immigrant labor movement and global LANDBACK movement, who envision a world beyond labor precarity and Indigenous dispossession. Lee hopes to pursue an academic career to support the work of these movements. Lee won a Fulbright New Zealand award last year but had to reapply to the competition when his grant was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Delanie J. Linden is a PhD candidate in art history in the Department of Architecture at MIT. For her Fulbright year in Paris, France, she will be hosted by the École Normale Supérieure, where she will conduct research on colorant commerce and chemistry in late-18th and early-19th century France under the guidance of Professor of Art History Charlotte Guichard. In Linden’s MIT dissertation, “Other Colors: Chroma, Chemistry, and the Orient in Nineteenth-Century French Painting,” chaired by Professor Kristel Smentek, Linden examines French Orientalist painters’ experimentation with brightly contrasting hues. As she argues, artistic chromatic exploration paralleled vast innovations in colorant chemistry in Europe from circa 1780 to 1858, which were fundamentally tethered — and indebted to — colorant technologies and artistic color juxtaposition in China, India, and the Ottoman Empire.
Ana McIntosh will graduate this month from the master of architecture program. Her architectural thesis focused on thinking about ecological and disaster resilience where water’s edge and city meet. Growing up with strong ties to Latin America, McIntosh feels uniquely positioned to explore architectural and urban questions in the context of different histories and cultures. For her Fulbright grant in Porto Alegre, Brazil, she will research design for the activation of public space while supporting the city’s urban initiatives in response to climate change. She will be hosted by the University of Rio Grande do Sul’s Urban Technology Center and hopes that her research might help to inform decision-making for public spaces at the policy level.
Karna Morey is a senior majoring in physics and minoring in Spanish. For his Fulbright grant in Barcelona, Spain, Morey will research stellar streams using data collected from the European Space Agency’s GAIA satellite. He hopes to contribute to greater understanding of the galactic properties of the Milky Way. As a trained classical guitarist, he also looks forward to exploring Spain’s musical traditions. At MIT, Morey has contributed to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as co-chair of the Physics Values Committee, and he has served as advocacy chair of the MIT Society of Physics Students. Morey was awarded the Goldwater Scholarship in his junior year. After Fulbright, he plans on pursuing a PhD in astrophysics.
Aashini Shah is a senior majoring in mechanical and electrical engineering with a focus on medical technology. She is the recipient of the sole Fulbright Singapore award and will conduct research at the National University of Singapore on novel health-sensing devices. As an undergraduate, Shah’s research projects have spanned mobile health-care delivery, controls for a lower limb prosthesis, and a sensing platform for augmenting at-home rehabilitation exercises. She enjoys learning about international public health systems and technologies, and has interned in South Africa and Australia. Shah is excited to bring these global perspectives with her when she enters the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology PhD program in Fall 2023.
Nailah Smith is a senior double-majoring in electrical engineering/computer science and creative writing. She will head to Colombia as a Fulbright English teaching assistant. Passionate about community and education, Smith has worked with the Office of Engineering Outreach Programs to teach high schoolers computer science and robotics. She has also been a residential facilitator for Interphase EDGE/x, helping students improve their communication and writing skills, and through MISTI has participated in a radio electronics project to help students in South Africa get more involved in STEM. She was selected as a Burchard Scholar and received an MIT Women’s and Gender Studies writing prize for her prose. In Colombia, Smith is looking forward to facilitating writing workshops for her students, improving her Spanish skills, exploring the country’s rich biodiversity, and immersing herself in Afro-Colombian culture.
Natasha Stamler is a senior double-majoring in mechanical engineering and planning. As a Netherland-America Foundation-Fulbright grantee, Stamler will be analyzing the energy-efficient Atlas building at TU Eindhoven. Stamler’s research at MIT has focused on sustainability in the built environment, including optimizing the shape of concrete ceilings to reduce energy usage in buildings with the Digital Structures group. She has also worked on projects with NASA to study the overlapping risks posed by climate change and Covid-19 in New York City, design a greenhouse for Mars, and prototype a communications tower for the moon. After her Fulbright in the Netherlands, Stamler will return to MIT for graduate school.
Daniel Zhang is a senior majoring in biology and minoring in comparative media studies. At the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in Utrecht, Netherlands, Zhang will develop an organoid co-culture system to study malignant rhabdoid tumors, and in turn, use this platform to screen for new therapeutic vulnerabilities of the disease. At MIT, he has worked as an undergraduate researcher in Professor Tyler Jacks’ lab since his first year, developing CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene knockout models for colorectal cancer. Outside of research, he has been actively involved in numerous educational STEM outreach programs, including dynaMIT, Global Teaching Labs, and Future African Scientist, and plans to continue this outreach while abroad in the Netherlands. After Fulbright, Zhang hopes to attend an MD/PhD program with the goal of translating his research findings from bench to bedside.