Five Ohio State doctoral candidates have been awarded the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, ranking the university No. 3 out of 41 schools for total students to receive the funding.
The fellowship awards money to “fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries, in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months.”
According to a summary released by the Department of Education, Ohio State beat out universities like Yale, Princeton and Harvard to tie with University of California, Berkeley and Michigan State. No. 1 University of Wisconsin and No. 2 Cornell University had seven and six award recipients respectively.
“Each state will have one to two universities that are part of this Fulbright-Hays program and can apply,” Joanna Kukielka-Blaser, the Ohio State program director who administers the grant, said. “In Ohio, it’s us, Ohio State University, and Ohio University.”
This year’s award recipients are John Bundschuh from the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature, Ashlee Dauphinais from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Katherine Fitzgerald from the Department of Comparative Studies, Barbara Y. Roth from the Department of Political Science and Nathan Young from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.
In the past two years, Ohio State has had one grantee per year, Kukielka-Blaser said.
“I would say two [per year] is our average,” Kukielka-Blaser said. “But ever since I’ve been administering the program, we’ve always had at least one awardee.”
Students interested in the opportunity do not apply individually but instead contact Kukielka-Blaser who puts together an institutional package.
Kukielka-Blaser said she looks for students interested in applying for the Fulbright-Hays award early on in order to give them time to build up their qualifications. She said students are chosen to receive the funding based on time already spent in the country the student’s research will take place, level of advanced knowledge of a less commonly taught language spoken in that country and the strength of the affiliation with an overseas university.
Although the award is open to all disciplines, Kukielka-Blaser said many students from nontraditional fields don’t think they are able to take advantage of the opportunity.
“One of the things that I come across is students self-eliminating themselves, not thinking that this is a viable option for them,” she said.
But, she said variation among fields is helpful to the entire cohort.
“In our meetings, they are each other’s sounding board,” Kukielka-Blaser said. “There is a tremendous benefit of having someone who is from literature with someone who does anthropology because there is a very different research methodology in each of those fields.”
The early preparation also gives Ohio State students an advantage because Margo Lipps, the program coordinator, said the deadline for the award varies greatly from year to year and is announced 30 to 60 days before the proposals are due.
“We know this and therefore we start way in advanced knowing it could be at any time,” Lipps said.
This irregular schedule occurs because the funding for the grant must be reauthorized each year by Congress, and the Department of Education has to wait for them to vote on how much money they will receive before they can design the competition for the year, Kukielka-Blaser said.
The Fulbright program through the U.S. Department of State is available to students at a variety of levels and emphasizes diplomacy by creating an exchange of students between the United States and countries around the world and emphasizing engagement with the host community.
Kukielka-Blaser said the Fulbright-Hays DDRA that is awarded annually is one-directional, meaning it provides institutions of higher education funding for the full-time doctoral dissertation research of doctoral candidates from the United States.
“The funding from Fulbright-Hays is marked to strengthen our domestic expertise in certain regions of the world … and languages which are not commonly taught as U.S. universities” Kukielka-Blaser said.
Students awarded the research funding will have an 18-month window to conduct their research and the length of research can vary from 6 to 12 months. Many Fulbright-Hays awardees are later awarded presidential fellowships, the most prestigious award given by Ohio State to graduate students and about 99 percent end up in tenure track positions, Kukielka-Blaser said.
“This in in an overall academic job market where maybe 25 percent of people … actually end up in tenure track jobs,” Ashlee Dauphinais, a 2018 grant-recipient said.
Barbara Roth, a 2018 grant recipient, said being at Ohio State is a huge help.
“Ohio State has a lot of stepping stones to get you there.”