10 members of the UC Santa Barbara community received the Fulbright Award from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, a grant supporting its recipients to engage in research and educate others while abroad. 

On average, more than 2,220 students and 900 college faculty members in the United States annually receive this grant. Nexus File Photo

Since its creation in 1946, the Fulbright Program partnered with over 140 countries and granted its awards to over 400,000 students, teachers and professionals. On average, more than 2,220 students and 900 college faculty members in the United States annually receive this grant. 

This year’s ten UCSB-affiliated recipients consist of six  students, three faculty members and one staff member. Students Clara Bailey, Jo Palazuelos-Krukowski, Jackson Stephenson, and Kira Weiss will be traveling to Switzerland, Australia, India and Egypt, respectively. Students Felicity Stone-Richards and Sabra Harris will be traveling to Japan. Duca Family Professor of Technology Management Paul Leonardi and Paul Amar will be traveling to Austria and Brazil, Religious Studies Associate Professor William Elison will be conducting research in Brazil, and Regional Advisor Megan Pankratz recently spent two weeks in South Korea as a part of a program for international education administrators.

Bailey, who is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at UC Santa Barbara, will be traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland to study soil pollutant remediation as a part of a collaboration with the University of Vandermeer. 

“[The research] is this collaboration with the Vandermeer lab at the University of Lausanne. They engineer organisms to introduce into contaminated soil, so that those organisms can remove the soil pollutants,” Bailey said. “Say you had a jet fuel spill in a field and you wanted to recover the soil for use by agriculture. You might be able to have an organism introduced into the soil that can remove the harmful components of that spill.”

Religious Studies PhD candidate Jackson Stephenson said the process for applying for the Fulbright Award was intense. 

“The Fulbright application process is easily the most intensive I have applied to, I would say it required more work than all six of my PhD program applications combined,” he said.

Stephenson will be traveling primarily to Varanasi and Jaipur in India to study the “afterlife of Indian esoteric Buddhist poetry.” He will be conducting primarily textual research, but also plans on talking with community members to research religious traditions and travel to certain archaeological sites. 

My research focuses on the use of different languages in Esoteric Hindu and Buddhist texts,” Stephenson said. “In these texts Sanskrit is the main language used for narrative functions, but throughout there are verses in another language called Apabhraṃśa, that are used in specific ways.” 

Elison will also be traveling to India before leaving in October to work on his research project, entitled “Lords of Ebb and Flow, God’s Resources and Access in Mumbai Slum Neighborhoods.”

“My research project … is to investigate how neighborhood gods give shape to and give meaning to urban communities in Mumbai,” Elison said. “My big question is, what happens when folks from the village move to the city?”

Elison detailed the importance of forming relationships with Mumbai citizens to fully understand their cultures, religions and belief systems, and how communication is crucial to the success of his project. 

“For me ethnography is much more. It’s a practice of communication, writing and interpretation… The only way this project is going to fly is if I manage to form relationships with key individuals in the kinds of communities that I’m studying,” he said.

Leonardi will be traveling to Vienna, Austria at the end of February to research artificial intelligence, the way it affects organizations and if the cities’ organizations are aware of any potential harm or bias in their creations. Leonardi received his award under the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Program, which is described as awarding senior scholars with significant teaching and publication records, according to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website

Leonardi said that he was drawn to travel to Austria because of its prioritization of “artificial intelligence ethics,” something he believes the United States does not fully invest in. 

“Austria has been one of the leaders in a more centralized governmental approach to developing a sort of AI ethics. That’s very different from what we do in the United States where several companies that have been developing AI tools—every company is sort of on their own, trying to figure out what to do,” Leonardi said.

Regional Advisor and Reciprocal Exchange Coordinator for UC Santa Barbara’s Education Abroad Program Megan Pankratz received a Fulbright International Education Adminstrator’s Award, which she said is designed to help those in international education form relationships with other educators in other countries over the time period of two weeks.

Pankratz said. “Selected applicants [of the International Education Administrators]  have the opportunity to learn about the host country’s education system as well as establish networks of U.S. and international colleagues over the course of an intensive two-week grant duration.”

Pankratz already visited South Korea, where she traveled to nine universities and communicated with other university faculty, students and members of the American Studies Association of Korea.

“In between university visits, we also had the chance to tour cultural sites… [in] addition to meeting with university staff, faculty, administrators and students, as well as government officials,” she said. “We also met with members of the American Studies Association of Korea (ASAK) who hosted a forum at the conclusion of our trip in which all of the Fulbright grantees delivered presentations.” 

Sabra Harris, who is currently pursuing a PhD in East Asain Language and Cultural Studies will be traveling to Hokkaido, Japan to conduct research on “emergent indigenties within public facing ainu performance.”

“I am looking at how indigeneity is articulated in society here in Japan, in the here and now, and where acts of recollection and recreation kind of intersect,” she said. “I’m looking at performance and art and media and how everyday life gets translated through using tradition as things like reggae and rock and different artistic genres.” 

Palazuelos-Krukowski, who is pursuing a doctorate in Theater and Dance, will be conducting her research in Melbourne, Australia under the title of “Spectral Frequencies: Recovering the Lost Histories of Australian Horror Radio.” 

Palazuelos-Krukowski completed her bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College, and has served as an assistant director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She said that her past experiences studying ghost stories and the lack of research on Australian horror radio drew her to the topic. 

“I studied plays about ghosts and how they’re used to talk about national history and memory,” Palazuelos-Krukowski said. “I fell into studying radio as the invisible voice on the air, and how ghost stories were told on the radio… People have never studied Australian horror radio. They’ve done American horror radio and English horror radio, and British horror radio. But no one had really considered Australian horror radio.”

Palazuelos-Krukowski said that she was grateful that other people also appreciated and expressed interest in her research. 

“It’s nice to find out that your work is interesting to other people, and that they’re as excited as you are about the things that you’ve gotten to study,” she said.

A previous version of the article mistakenly referred to Jo Palazuelos-Krukowski as Johanna Krukowski. The article was since edited to reflect that change.