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2018-2019 Award Recipients

  • Kaylin Gant

    Kaylin Gant

    2019 Boren Award

    Kaylin Gant, a biotechnology major in the College of Technology, aspires to conduct research in conservational and agricultural biosciences in chronically understudied regions. In particular, she is focused on climate projections affecting coastal towns worldwide, including her hometown of Port Arthur, Texas. She seeks to understand how climate events have further exacerbated pestilence and disease in entities critical to food security, as well as ecosystems. Gant will take part in the Boren African Flagship Language Initiative (AFLI) in Mozambique in fall 2019, and she hopes to apply Portuguese to her future research.
  • Brian Irianto

    Brian Irianto

    2019 Boren Award

    Brian Irianto, a rising Honors College sophomore majoring in computer engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering, will study Russian in Latvia in spring and summer 2020. Throughout Irianto’s educational pursuits, studying languages has been a passion. He is currently pursuing a minor in German. Through the Boren program, Irianto will travel to Latvia for seven months to study Russian, a language that will give him a leg up in the field of cyber security or computational linguistics.
  • Pranav Rao

    Pranav Rao

    2019 Boren Award

    Pranav Rao, a sophomore political science major in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, will study Hindi in India from summer 2019 through the spring of 2020. Fascinated with Indian culture and history, he is also pursuing an India studies minor and has taken two semesters of Hindi. By participating in the Boren South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative (SAFLI), he hopes to become more fluent. A political science major with keen interests in national security and international studies, Rao believes that India will play a bigger role in the international community in the coming decades. Rao hopes that his participation in the Boren SAFLI program will shine a spotlight on the Hindi program at UH, as he believes that learning Hindi will be critical to maintaining future social and cultural relations with the Republic of India.
  • Victor Yau

    Victor Yau

    2019 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowships

    Victor Yau is an Asian-Canadian who grew up in the racially and ethnically diverse cities of Dallas and Houston. Yau was inspired by hip-hop’s message of youth empowerment through nonviolent artistic expression to serve as an ambassador of American youth culture in Asia as a Critical Language, Houston, and Boren Scholar. In addition to achieving advanced proficiency in Mandarin and Korean, he has taught dance classes, hosted educational performances, and facilitated collaborative exchanges and fundraising projects among hip-hop communities in Texas and Asia. Connecting international youth via hip-hop art helped him realize his passion for representing and serving youth as a cultural diplomat—specifically, at-risk youth who turn to gangs, radical ideology, and other activities to cope with personal insecurities and social prejudice. Victor will be attending Princeton University this fall to pursue a Master in Public Affairs, International Relations.
  • Wasiq Javed

    Wasiq Javed

    2019 Critical Language Scholarship

    Wasiq Javed is a first-year Honors College student majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) with a minor in Phronesis in the Honors College. He is currently a senator for in the Student Government Association in CLASS and is also on the UHCoogSlam Poetry team that competes nationally at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) tournament. Urdu, his heritage tongue, is an avenue for him to learn the language and build bridges with his home community in Houston. He hopes learning Urdu will help him to better mobilize his community in civic-engagement activities.
  • Shiva Moghadasian

    Shiva Moghadasian

    2018-2019 Fulbright U.S. Student Program

    Shiva Moghadasian is a political science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) with a minor in national security studies. She hopes to go to law school after graduating from UH. This is her second time applying for the CLS’ Persian Program after applying as a freshman. As native speaker, she applied for Persian to become fluent in the language so that she can become closer with her culture and heritage.
  • Christopher Hixon

    Christopher Hixon

    2019 DAAD RISE Scholarship

    Christopher Hixon, a mechanical engineering senior, will work at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology. He chose his major because he wanted to build fast cars and he is looking forward to working on optimizing leaf spring suspensions, which is a key part of the automotive industry’s goal to reduce the weight on every component of vehicles while maintaining strength, performance and reliability. “I am most excited to gain experience doing research in a country that is known around the world for outstanding engineering and gaining experience in the automotive industry,” Hixon said. “For fun, I want to visit different race tracks around Germany like the Nürburgring, try German beer and, hopefully, do some mountain biking.”
  • Vincent Laroche

    Vincent Laroche

    2019 DAAD RISE Scholarship

    Vincent Laroche, also a mechanical engineering major, chose his project because of his interest in sustainability and the environment. He will be working at the Technical University of Braunschweig analyzing the bulk flow of fibrous particles in recycling processes. The main goals of the project are to find how different factors affect the efficiency of bulk flow and to use this data to determine the most optimal conditions for recycling. “This research is important because recycling and recyclable materials are becoming more and more common in the modern world,” he said. “The knowledge this research could provide would advance our understanding of optimal recycling processes.”
  • Mary Olear

    Mary Olear

    2019 DAAD RISE Scholarship

    Mary Olear, an industrial engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Dortmund. Her project will focus on the implementation of blockchain technology in supply chain management – whether dealing with the financial aspects or pertaining to warehouse and delivery – with the goal of increasing efficiency, transparency and innovation. “Along with the research experience that I hope to gain from this internship, I’m excited to have access to some of the other ongoing projects currently being researched by the Fraunhofer Institute. They research everything – from energy and the environment to production,” Olear said. She also hopes “to take in all that Europe has to offer.”
  • Maria Laura Rossodivita

    Maria Laura Rossodivita

    2019 DAAD RISE Scholarship

    Maria Laura Rossodivita, a chemical engineering major, will be working at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel located in the port city of Kiel in northern Germany. Her project will focus on inhalable medicine and ways to increase the amount of drug reaching the lungs by the use of interactive blends dispersed by inhalation devices. “Since my mom was a doctor in Venezuela, I've wanted to explore the medical field and see if it's the right place for me. If I end up really enjoying this project, I hope to pursue pharmaceutics to create new and better medicines that can save lives and improve the quality of life for many people with debilitating diseases,” Rossodivita said. “Also, growing up during the American opioid crisis inspires me to use my engineering abilities to create medicine that doctors can give to their patients, to help alleviate their pain, without fearing the risk of addiction.”
  • Jesus Silva Rodriguez

    Jesus Silva Rodriguez

    2019 DAAD RISE Scholarship

    Jesus Silva Rodriguez, an electrical engineering major, will be working with high voltages measurement systems and research insulation materials that can withstand this high electric potential at the Technical University of Dortmund. “These high voltage systems could be used in future energy grids powered by renewable energy systems such as solar and wind power systems,” he said. “One of my greatest passions is renewable energy technologies because I believe that it is now time to stop using fossil fuels and depend solely on renewable energy sources before the negative ecological impact on our planet becomes irreversible.” Silva Rodriguez is excited about his first airplane ride.
  • Joshua Tran

    Joshua Tran

    2019 DAAD RISE Scholarship

    Joshua Tran, a first-generation college student and chemical engineering major, will work on optimizing cleaning strategies for food-processing plants at the Technical University of Braunschweig. “This research will help battle the economic and ecological disadvantages that food-processing plants encounter,” said Tran, who was intrigued by the project’s combination of engineering and food. Joshua is looking forward to using his passport for the first time and experiencing the university culture in Braunschweig.
  • Yusuf Bavi

    Yusuf Bavi

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Morocco, English Teaching Assistant

    Yusuf Bavi began studying Arabic four years ago while studying at Houston Community College. He knew he would continue with the language when he transferred to UH, but he never imagined it would take him so far. During the summer of his first year at the University, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Jordan and to visit Palestine. His studies abroad provided a practical understanding of what he learned in his study of the history and politics of the modern Middle East. They also gave Bavi a new perspective on his experiences in the United States. Last summer he studied Arabic in Meknes, Morocco on a Critical Language Scholarship. Yusuf is excited to complete a Fulbright in Morocco, because it will allow him to enrich his knowledge of the country and explore its history while facilitating mutual understanding. He also plans on continuing his study of Arabic and Darija, and beginning to study French formally.
  • Britnee Chuor

    Britnee Chuor

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Spain, English Teaching Assistant

    Britnee Chuor grew up in minority-majority communities in Southern California and Houston, which introduced her to a variety of cultures, helped her develop linguistic skills, and strongly influenced her passion for working with immigrant communities. At the University of Houston, Chuor double-majored in political science and liberal studies, minored in Spanish, and became a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP). She also studied abroad in Cadiz, Spain as a Gilman Scholar before graduating in December 2018. She now speaks three languages, works as a policy analyst for State Representative Gene Wu during the 86th Legislature, and will participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program in fall 2019.
  • Brendon Hillebrand

    Brendon Hillebrand

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Taiwan, English Teaching Assistant

    Brendon Hillebrand graduated in December 2018, with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a minor in Spanish. After studying abroad in Chile and volunteering in a public clinic there, he had a strong desire to return abroad and continue to learn about other cultures and languages. Hillebrand intends to apply to medical school and is interested in community and international medicine. Through this experience with Fulbright, he hopes to share an understanding of American culture with others in Taiwan while gaining a deeper appreciation for their culture, which he can later apply to promoting better communication between patients and their healthcare providers.
  • Layla Kratovic

    Layla Kratovic

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Bosnia and Herzegovina, Study/Research

    Layla Kratovic will be graduating in May 2019, with a bachelor's in psychology and a minor in human resource management. She has been involved in clinical research for over two years as a research assistant at the Trauma and Stress Studies Center. Her research interests include trauma, substance use, and treatment development for depression and anxiety disorders. Kratovic is also a field researcher for The National Police Foundation and an intern at The Petoskey Center. She will be going to Bosnia and Herzegovina for nine months, starting in October 2019, where she will study the transgenerational consequences of traumatic stress in a post-war country. Kratovic plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

  • Danielle Niangar

    Danielle Niangar

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Italy, Study/Research

    Danielle Niangar is a senior double majoring in political science and sociology with a minor in global international studies. She has worked for three immigration law firms, interned for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, the British Consulate, Human Rights First, Refugee Services of Texas, and the Department of State. In October 2019, Niangar will be researching the societal integration of immigrants with the Italian National Institute of Statistics in Rome, Italy. She became interested in international human rights when she began to work with law firms on asylum and refugee cases. Niangar plans to pursue a future in humanitarian causes.

  • Michelle Orsi

    Michelle Orsi

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Argentina, English Teaching Assistant

    Michelle Orsi holds a bachelor’s in Spanish and English from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, with concentrations in Latin American studies and creative writing and a minor in international relations. While at Gonzaga University, Orsi also became certified to Teach English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) before moving to Houston to pursue her masters in creative writing at UH. While at UH, she has taught English composition and creative writing courses as a graduate instructor. Orsi will move to Los Angeles this summer to begin her doctorate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California before leaving for Argentina in March of 2020.
  • Chelsea Sanchez

    Chelsea Sanchez

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    South Korea, English Teaching Assistant

    Chelsea Sanchez is a Honors College student graduating in May 2019, with a bachelor’s in teaching and learning as well as a minor in Leadership Studies. Since entering UH, she has worked in different capacities to teach in impoverished areas of Houston. Sanchez will continue to develop her teaching philosophy as she ventures abroad to South Korea. Once she returns, Sanchez is hoping to pursue a graduate degree and career in Second Language Education.
  • Crystal Tran

    Crystal Tran

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Taiwan, English Teaching Assistant

    Crystal Tran is a senior finishing up dual degrees in political science and psychology. Through UH, Tran had the opportunity to learn more about the value of community and explored different avenues of public service. She interned at Houston City Hall through both the Hobby School of Public Affairs' Civic Houston Internship Program, and the UH International Affairs Internship Program. In addition, Tran worked in a few of Houston's many local nonprofits, such as the YMCA International Services' Trafficked Persons Assistance Program. Her experiences had broadened Tran's perspective on the importance of cultural sensitivity when working with diverse populations and a deep appreciation for being involved in Houston's incredibly diverse community. Tran hopes to bring these experiences to Taiwan as she develops her Mandarin language studies and to engage with, and learn from, the local community.
  • Hina Uddin

    Hina Uddin

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    India, English Teaching Assistant

    Serrae Reed is graduating with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering as well as minors in mathematics and Spanish. She worked for three years as an undergraduate research assistant in Venkat Selvamanickam’s semiconductor laboratory and completed internships at Arizona State University, LyondellBasell, and Shell. In addition, she maintained a commitment to educational outreach through directing the Cullen College of Engineering’s Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence in Engineering Camp and founding both the Writing to Inspire Successful Education (WISE) program and the Houston Scholars Writing Workshops program. Reed was offered both the Ford Fellowship and GEM Fellowship toward her graduate studies in engineering. In the fall, Reed will begin her doctoral studies at Yale University in mechanical engineering and materials science, with generous funding from the Ford Foundation. Her goal, as a professor who conducts renewable energy device research, is to increase tutoring opportunities for pre-collegiate students and to strengthen retention rates for engineering students from underrepresented communities.
  • Alberto Wilson III

    Alberto Wilson III

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Mexico, Study/Research

    Alberto Wilson III is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History training as a modern U.S. historian with specializations in Latino/a and borderlands history. His dissertation is a transnational urban study of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez that examines the identities, encounters, and solidarities that emerged along the U.S.-Mexico border after the Second World War. During his time on fellowship, Alberto will carry-out research in the region’s archive and collect oral histories, alongside establishing professional connections in Ciudad Juárez’s flagship university.
  • Johnny Zapata

    Johnny Zapata

    2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program
    Turkey, English Teaching Assistant

    Johnny Zapata is an Honors College senior graduating May 2019, with a bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish, and a second bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2016, he studied abroad at ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan as a Gilman Scholar. Zapata’s year there influenced his decision to apply for a Fulbright grant to Turkey as well as to pursue a career in international relations. During his time at UH, he participated in activities with a local and international focus such as interning at Houston History, and the World Affairs Council, working at the Language and Culture Center as a Conversation Club program assistant, and forming a part of Global Guides, a student organization promoting learning abroad opportunities for UH students. Zapata looks forward to being an English teaching assistant in Turkey, helping to create mutual understanding between his host community and the United States. After returning from Turkey, he plans to continue his studies in the master of international affairs program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
  • Debora Mroczek

    Debora Mroczek

    2019 Goldwater Scholarship

    Debora Mroczek is a physics and mathematics junior in the Honors College at the University of Houston. She is originally from Brazil and moved to Houston with her family in 2014. Since 2017 she has been working on nuclear theory research with Dr. Claudia Ratti and has a passion for investigating physical phenomena through numerical simulations. Mroczek has been involved in UH Powerlifting, the Astronomy Society, and the Cougars in the Houston Area Math Program (CHAMP). She is an advocate for women and minorities in STEM and is an undergraduate teaching assistant for the physics department.
  • Brian Vu

    Brian Vu

    2019 Goldwater Scholarship

    Brian Vu is a junior physics major in the Honors College. When he studied physics for the first time in high school, Vu was fascinated by how we could make predictions in the real world based on the logic of mathematics. Vu conducts research in mathematics, in a field called numerical analysis. His research group has developed a way to efficiently calculate integrals that are closely related to the theory of the Fourier transform. Vu plans on pursuing a doctorate and using his math background to solve problems in medicine.
  • Tayler Hedtke

    Tayler Hedtke

    2019 PKP Fellowship

    Tayler Hedtke is a junior chemical engineering student in the Honors College. She previously conducted research at Colorado School of Mines on the removal of water contaminants using ceramic membranes and activated carbon. Hedtke also researched at UH to determine the effects on microbial growth of antiscalant additives in filtration systems. She spent last summer at the University of Kaiserslautern conducting research on molecular modeling and simulations. Hedtke was also involved in STEM outreach activities through the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is a teaching assistant for freshmen honors engineering courses. She will be attending Yale University for a PhD in environmental engineering this fall.
  • Jacob (True) Furrh

    Jacob (True) Furrh

    2019 Udall Scholarship 

    Jacob (True) Furrh is a junior Tier One Scholar and Honors College student pursuing degrees in environmental sciences and civil engineering. He is active in NSM student leadership, serves as an Advancement Ambassador, is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and spent weekends as a coordinator in UH CARES. Furrh participated in a UH study abroad to Iceland and completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) in summer 2017, two experiences that heightened his interest in research into environmental issues. In 2018, True was the recipient of the NOAA Hollings Scholarship and the NIST SURF Scholarship. Furrh hopes to study coastal resiliency and how environmental stewardship can mitigate the effects of disasters.