Fulbright: A Brief Intro

Hello reader,

I will just take a quick moment to explain just exactly what a Fulbright is and what it will involve over the next year. Most of the people I've talked with have heard the name, but not necessarily the details behind the program.

The Fulbright program is quite diverse, as there are a number of highly competitive grants in a wide number of fields that can be consider a "Fulbright." The program was established in 1946 by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. This was a time of great unrest and uncertainity, as the conclusion of World War II left many wondering how international relations would be repaired. Senator Fulbright recognized this as a prime opportunity to establish lasting connections with countries throughout the world. It has become the flagship international educational exchange program.

Here is the official wording on their mission:
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.
Importantly, the program operates on a bi-national basis: both the US and the corresponding country agree to exchange scholars for varying amounts of time. Thus, the Fulbright term also refers to international scholars visiting and working in the States. Beginning with China in 1947, the Fulbright program is now active in 155+ countries. Funding for the program continues to come from the US Congress to the Department of State. Participating countries and host institutions often help with cost-sharing and other measures as well. You can find lots more info here.

Types of Fulbright grants
  • US Student Program
  • English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) Program
  • Foreign Student Program
  • Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program
  • International Fulbright Science and Technology Award
  • US Scholar Program
  • Specialist Program
  • Visiting Scholar Program
  • Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) Program
  • NEXUS Program
  • Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange
  • Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching
  • Huber H. Humphrey Fellowship
  • Fulbright-Hays Program
I am the recipient of a fellowship in the US Student Fulbright program. This is composed of two types of grants - so-called "full" (aka research) grants, and English Teaching Assistantships. There are approximately 1700 US citizens that are traveling abroad for the next year to study, perform research, teach, or do other scholarly activities.

I'll be doing research with my year in Singapore, as you might guess by the photo. I will be performing chemistry research at the National University of Singapore, or NUS. The project is quite exciting - working with a multidisciplinary team, we are investigating the dynamics of dengue viral infection at the molecular level.  

For you non-science nerds out there, we are essentially examining how dengue virus "does what it does." By figuring out how the membrane of the virus changes on the nanometer level, we can figure out just how the virus replicates. Such information could lead to other labs developing better drugs, vaccines, etc that can substantially improve the way the virus is treated. Dengue fever, the tropical disease caused by dengue virus, currently affects 50-100 million people annually. In other words, it's a big problem that still needs lots of research to get it under control.

Besides doing research (or other academic things), Fulbrighters are expected to be cultural ambassadors. This is fairly vague, but it signifies two things to me. One, I need to engage the local culture on a daily basis, whether this means eating exotic foods (which should be no problem) or participating in local customs. The other part of it means bringing my American-ness to Singapore. Again, I don't anticipate this will be a problem. I've got one event already on the calender - the 2013 Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. It's on December 1st, so lots of time to train. Or procrastinate. But hopefully train.

Thanks for reading. I might do a post about my application experience for anyone interested in seeking their own Fulbright. I would highly recommend that people do look into it, as there are pretty much unlimited opportunities to pursue one's passion. Especially you science kids out there - Notre Dame has a good reputation for producing Fulbrighters, but they are predominantly Arts and Letters kiddos. Which is fine, but Dean Crawford does an equally good job of producing top notch researchers.

Happy Sunday,

Quick disclaimer
* This is not an official Department of State website or blog, and that the views and information presented
are their own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State*


  1. Get to know with Fulbright Foreign Student Program Education is like a road that connects

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