Return to News

Two College of Science Students Named Fulbright Scholars

by Jordana Torres

Three North­eastern students—Lucas Schoeppner, Lauren Byrnes, and Hollis Thomann—have received Ful­bright Schol­ar­ships for 2013–2014. The trio will leave in Sep­tember to com­plete their Ful­bright U.S. Stu­dent Pro­gram awards, all of which will take place in Germany.

The three Ful­bright schol­ar­ships are the most awarded at North­eastern in one year, said Joanna Iacono, director of the Office of Fellowships.

The Ful­bright Schol­ar­ship is a merit-​​based award that pro­vides funds for U.S. cit­i­zens to study, con­duct research, or teach inter­na­tion­ally. As recip­i­ents of one of the most pres­ti­gious nation­ally com­pet­i­tive fel­low­ships, Ful­bright scholars seek to increase mutual under­standing between the people of the United States and other coun­tries across a vast array of disciplines.

Schoeppner, a 2012 grad­uate who earned a degree in jour­nalism with double minors in his­tory and inter­na­tional affairs, is one of five stu­dents nation­ally selected to par­tic­i­pate in the Ful­bright U.S. Young Jour­nalist Pro­gram. Through his 10-​​month schol­ar­ship, the Penn­syl­vania native will con­duct research and work with one or more media insti­tu­tions. He plans to con­tinue inves­ti­gating a topic that recently piqued his interest: the eco­nomic and envi­ron­mental con­se­quences of fracking—also known as hydraulic frac­turing, a process of extracting nat­ural gas and oil from shale rock layers deep underground.

Schoeppner said fracking presents a unique inter­sec­tion of envi­ron­mental, eco­nomic, and policy issues. “The use of fracking tech­nology has exploded over the past sev­eral years in the U.S., cre­ating a huge envi­ron­mental debate, rev­o­lu­tion­izing the fossil fuel industry, and forcing alter­na­tive energy pro­grams to cope with new real­i­ties,” he explained. “I want to look at the prac­tice objec­tively and inves­ti­gate the impacts fracking will have if, and when, it’s adopted in Germany.”

While working on co-​​op at Boston-​​based Ceres, a net­work of envi­ron­men­tally con­scious investors, in 2011 he began to under­stand the envi­ron­mental and eco­nomic fac­tors that shape large-​​scale multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions’ deci­sions to tap into nat­ural gas reserves.

“For better or worse, some com­mu­ni­ties don’t want fracking in their area,” Schoeppner said. “While in Ger­many, I want to be part of the ongoing national dis­cus­sion on if, and how, to develop the 8 tril­lion cubic feet of nat­ural gas under German soil.”

Byrnes, a senior biology major has received a Ful­bright for Study and Research and will pursue her master’s degree in mol­e­c­ular bio­sciences at Hei­del­berg Uni­ver­sity in Ger­many. The Ohio native plans to expand on her impres­sive in-​​class and expe­ri­en­tial research into cel­lular and mol­e­c­ular biology, par­tic­u­larly as it relates to cell migration.

“My expe­ri­ences in the lab have been instru­mental to my under­standing of tech­niques and the­o­ries taught in the class­room,” Byrnes explained. “Learning about DNA and pro­teins and working with them is very dif­ferent. My oppor­tu­ni­ties to design my own exper­i­ments and gain inde­pen­dence in a lab set­ting are a major reason why I want to and why I’m able to attend grad­uate school.”

Her interest in inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions was sparked by a study abroad expe­ri­ence in Frieburg, Ger­many in Fall 2011. During this experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­nity, Byrnes learned that the work of sci­ence revolves around strategic multi­na­tional part­ner­ships, and it strength­ened her desire to live, study, and research in Ger­many fol­lowing grad­u­a­tion and pursue a career as a global scientist.

Thomann, a senior lin­guis­tics major with double minors in inter­na­tional affairs and psy­chology earned a Ful­bright Eng­lish Teaching Assist­ant­ship in Ger­many. As part of her 10-​​month pro­gram, Thomann will assist Eng­lish instruc­tors and teach Eng­lish as a second lan­guage. She also hopes to learn more about the suc­cessful bilin­gual English-​​German pro­grams in the German school system and trans­late those best prac­tices back home in U.S. bilin­gual edu­ca­tion programs.

“Bilin­gual edu­ca­tion laws vary by state in the United States,” Thomann explained. “All edu­ca­tors have their gen­eral teaching cer­tifi­cate, but most are not spe­cial­ized in bilin­gual edu­ca­tion. That training then falls on the schools. It’s impor­tant to get these teachers trained in bilin­gual edu­ca­tion tech­niques because it will ben­efit both the school and the student.”

Thomann hopes her work in Ger­many will build on her pre­vious expe­ri­ences teaching and researching bilin­gual edu­ca­tion in America, and help her in advo­cating for bilin­gual programs.

“Through my under­standing of lin­guis­tics, I’ve been able to be a more effec­tive Eng­lish lan­guage teacher,” Thomann said. “I want to empower other lan­guage teachers, par­tic­u­larly those in bilin­gual pro­grams, to use lin­guis­tics to improve lan­guage learning.”

Originally published in news@Northeastern on April 12, 2013

« »