UConn Is Again a National Leader in Fulbright Scholars

The Fulbright Program is the government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

Top Row (L-R): Amanda Denes, Damir Dzhafarov, and Michael Lynes. Bottom Row (L-R): Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch,, Marie Shanahan, and Steven Wilf.

The University of Connecticut has been recognized among the top producers of Fulbright U.S. Scholars from research institutions for the third time in the past five years.

The University has seven Fulbright Scholars on its faculty who were given the opportunity to teach and perform research around the world in the 2020-21 academic year, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The national leaders were featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education on February 15. UConn is tied for ninth nationally on that list.

In response to recent program adaptations to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of participants and host communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 Fulbright data reflect the total number of awards offered, rather than the number of awards accepted, as in past years.

The Fulbright Program is the federal government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Scholars are selected for their academic merit and leadership potential, with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

“This achievement further strengthens the University of Connecticut as a global institution with meaningful relationships in all world regions,” says UConn Vice President for Global Affairs Daniel Weiner.

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program operates in more than 160 countries and 2021 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Celebrations throughout the year will highlight the impressive accomplishments and legacy of the program and its alumni over its first 75 years, both in the United States and around the world.

Among the UConn faculty were offered Fulbright projects abroad were:

  • Associate professor of communication Amanda Denes, to conduct research at the Translational Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University in Australia, on exploring the role of communication in promoting well-being for individuals with cancer and their partners.
  • Associate professor of mathematics Damir Dzhafarov, to conduct research at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, on strengthening connections between computability theory and combinatorics, two foundational areas that have numerous applications throughout mathematics.
  • Department head and professor of molecular and cell biology Michael Lynes, to conduct research at the Center for Diabetes Research at the University of Bergen in Norway, to explore the relevance of a therapeutic antibody he developed that can prevent the progression of Type 1 diabetes in mice, and whether it could effectively be used in treating patients.
  • Assistant professor of communication Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, to conduct research at the Universität Duisburg-Essen in Germany in its Digital Citizenship in Network Technologies lab on the current understanding of social media use and its effects.
  • Associate professor of journalism Marie Shanahan, to conduct research at Leyte Normal University in the Philippines to determine how news organizations are combating – or contributing to – the online spread of inaccurate or deliberately deceptive information under the guise of news.
  • Professor of global commerce at UConn Law Steven Wilf, to conduct research at the Centre d’Etudes Internationales de la Propriété Intellectuelle in Strasbourg, France.

UConn’s Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships collaborated with the Office of Global Affairs and the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute to host Fulbright Week at UConn for the first time in 2019.

This year, Fulbright Week at UConn virtual events will be held March 22-26, 2021. Together with a representative from the Institute of International Education, which administers the Fulbright programs, information sessions for faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students will be offered.

“Working with students and faculty to identify opportunities and develop projects to engage in research and teaching around the world is central to my role as Fulbright Program Advisor at UConn,” says LuAnn Saunders-Kanabay, Assistant Director in the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships.

“I highly recommend UConn faculty and students attend Fulbright Week at UConn and explore what the Fulbright Program has to offer,” says Weiner. “This form of soft diplomacy through cultural exchange fosters mutual understanding and appreciation of one another.”

The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and the U.S. also provide direct and indirect support.