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updated: 11/16/2012 1:00 PM

Fulbright Grants Fund International Study and Research

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LaTonya Taylor

Three members of the Wheaton College community recently won Fulbright grants to participate in international research and teaching opportunities in Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Costa Rica.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Juliana Wilhoit, who graduated from Wheaton College in 2011, received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship to Bulgaria for an English Teaching Assistantship. Wilhoit teaches at a selective public foreign language secondary school. She is also participating in community development work within the Roma community.

Wilhoit first visited Bulgaria's capital city, Sophia, in 2010 through the "Iron Sharpens Iron" program at Wheaton College's J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy. The program is an immersion experience that allows students to study cultural, political, economic and business structures in various countries. The trip left her with a desire to return to Bulgaria.

She says her participation in other academic opportunities, including the College's Wheaton in Chicago semester and a course on Christian philosopher Jacques Ellul, prepared her to serve in Bulgaria. "My experience at Wheaton helped me learn how to conduct research and how to develop a heart for justice," she says.

Wilhoit is one of more than 1700 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2012-2013 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Dr. Sandra Joireman, Professor of Politics and International Relations, received a Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research in Kosovo. Joireman's research project is on the restoration of property rights in post-conflict settings in Kosovo with attention to the role of local government.

"Where there has been violent conflict and people have fled their communities to seek safety elsewhere, one of the major tasks of the government is to restore communities by bringing people back and enabling them to reclaim homes, businesses, farms or other property," Joireman says. "This particular project allows me to study the role of property in post-conflict reconstruction with the aim of increasing knowledge and developing better policy prescriptions for countries that are trying to emerge from the effects of violent conflict."

In addition to her research, Joireman will teach a class on Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict at the American University of Kosovo in Pristina during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Dr. Rod Scott, Associate Professor of Genetics, received a Fulbright Scholar research and teaching grant enabling him to spend five months pursuing projects in conservation genetics at the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Jose last spring.

In collaboration with local specialists, he collected DNA samples from turtles in order to study the population genetics of these species. This type of study has never been done before with these species, and his work will enable Scott and other scientists to assess the genetic health of the populations he studied.

Several biological supply companies, including Quiagen and Promega, donated more than $10,000 in chemical reagents, supplies, and equipment to the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Universidad Naciónal in Heredia to assist Scott in his research.

Scott and Joireman are two of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals to travel abroad via the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2012-2013.