Introduction to Rachel “Sky” Brown

My name is Rachel (Sky) Brown, and I’m a fourth year undergraduate student at UCSD majoring in Third World Studies and minoring in Literature/Writing. I graduate in a month and will be starting my Fulbright scholarship as an English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan on August 1st. As my major suggests, I’m very interested in international travel with an emphasis on studying culture. Since I have a few months before my Fulbright begins, for now I’ll just mention how and why I ended up here.

I’ve always been interested in living abroad. For me, studying culture is studying people – it’s how we interact, what ties us together, makes us unique and ultimately defines our species. The more places I can go to observe and experience this, the happier I am.

Over the 2011-2012 school year, I spent time as an unofficial ETA at a girls’ high school in Rwanda and later did a semester abroad at the University of Ghana, Legon. [Note from FPA: Just to clarify, this was not an ETA position affiliated with Fulbright.]  It was difficult being away from friends, family, and my home country, but I adjusted and enjoyed myself quite a bit in both places. I knew that I wanted to live abroad again. While I adored my time in Africa, I’ve always been fascinated by Asia as well, and when I heard about the Fulbright ETA program and all the places they worked I decided to try applying.

Since I could only apply for a Fulbright in one country, I took a while deliberating. The reason I chose Taiwan in the end was that I reviewed their website and decided that it looked like the best program fit for me. My personal criteria were: 1) in Asia, 2) working with younger children (junior high/elementary), 3) with my main capacity as an assistant rather than a full teacher (I need some more practice) and 4) with a substantial orientation period. Taiwan seemed like the best option for me, and since all I have ever heard about Taiwan has been about its hospitality and unique culture, I decided it seemed like the perfect place to start.

Then I applied and waited and waited and got the good news last month. For now I’m trying to wrap up college, learn a little Mandarin, and prepare for another big move. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. The most recent news I’ve gotten is that I have been placed in Kinmen, a small island with a population of about 85,000 that is owned by Taiwan and located off the coast of China. I’m excited to see what it’s like.

Introduction to Casey McCoy

I’m a fourth year graduate student in the philosophy department studying the philosophy of physics. Through the support of a Fulbright grant I will be spending the next academic year in Austria at the University of Vienna working on my project, “Philosophical Implications of Inflationary Cosmology.” The project is an extension of my PhD dissertation research, which is officially due to start after I advance to candidacy this quarter.

I’ll say a few words about my project, but first I’ll explain how it came about. The key decision I made was spending last summer in Vienna. The main impetus to go was a two week summer school focused on science studies. Once I had committed to spending two weeks in Vienna, it was an easy decision to spend the rest of the summer there. Members of my faculty put me in touch with colleagues at the University of Vienna and other institutions, and naturally I met many people during the summer school.

After a while it occurred to me that Vienna would be an ideal place to pursue my research, and I started thinking seriously about applying for a Fulbright grant. The contacts I had made were enthusiastic about the idea, and the philosophy faculty in San Diego was supportive, so I applied. I think developing personal familiarity with the destination in advance was absolutely crucial to the success of my application.

The aim of my project is to make a philosophical investigation into the foundations and conceptual issues of one aspect of modern cosmology, namely the speculative idea that the early universe underwent a phase of rapid expansion. This expansion precedes the well-established “Hubble” expansion, a feature of the Hot Big Bang model of the universe, responsible for, among other things, the observed redshifts (recession) of distant galaxies. The speculative “rapid expansion” scenario is called cosmological inflation and has become a pillar of the current standard model of cosmology, a model that attempts to extend and improve the Hot Big Bang model.

What is interesting about inflation, from a philosophical point of view, is that physicists postulated it as a solution to certain perceived explanatory problems with the basic Big Bang universe story. For example, the geometrical flatness of the universe and its large-scale uniformity are explained by the Big Bang model through what cosmologists feel are implausible special initial conditions. These particular problems are known as the Flatness Problem and the Horizon Problem. These problems do not arise from the familiar sources of problems one finds in the history of science, namely disagreements between theory and observation or inconsistencies between well-confirmed theories. Are explanatory problems of a piece with these familiar problems? Or are they pseudo-problems that the practice of science would do well to ignore? These are the questions to which I hope to provide interesting answers during my time in Vienna!

Introduction to Harrison Gill

My name is Harrison Gill and I will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the city of Rychnov nad Kněžnou, Czech Republic. My relationship with the Czech Republic stems from my junior year, when I studied abroad in Prague. Unfortunately, I struggled to leave my American bubble during much of my time in Prague. When I was able to do so, the experiences were some of the most meaningful to me in my entire life. During my time in the Czech Republic, I became extremely interested in education after taking a class on the Czech education system and decided to volunteer at a Czech high school briefly. This experience led to my involvement with the Preuss School, PAL, and La Clase Magica programs here at UC San Diego, in addition to also taking courses in the TEFL program at UC San Diego Extension.

Wanting to get more exposure to the Czech culture, I decided to apply for the Fulbright ETA program last summer. I hope to use the classroom as a space where I can connect my American culture to the students’ Czech culture through interesting discussion and debate topics highlighting significant similarities and differences. Furthermore, I hope to utilize my expertise to provide a common good for the community. In my free time, I plan to work on various side activities, including a project where I seek to meet with locals in Rychnov nad Kněžnou who play significant roles in public service, stemming from my interests in community service and volunteerism.

It is my goal to also learn as much as I can from my hosts and the entire community of Rychnov nad Kněžnou. The Fulbright program is providing me an opportunity to truly become a cultural ambassador. I will share my culture, and my community will share their culture with me. I look forward to sharing with everyone back home what I learn throughout my experience.

12 UCSD Students offered Fulbright Grants this Year!

12 of our 24 applicants for the 2013-14 Fulbright year have been offered grants!  This is truly a banner year!  According to the website’s grantee directory, the most grants we’ve had since 1993 is 10.  Thus, there’s a chance we’ll end up with the most grants that UCSD has had in over two decades!

(The reason it’s not certain is that 12 people have been offered grants, but it’s possible that some will decline.  The grantee directory lists people who actually accepted the grant.)

Introduction to Kristina Pistone

My name is Kristina Pistone, and I am finishing my fifth year in the PhD program at SIO. I am studying climate science; my dissertation is composed of two different projects that fall under the theme of the albedo of the Earth, basically how much incoming solar energy is reflected back to space (white surfaces have higher albedo).  Albedo acts as a significant control on global climate, and the biggest components of the Earth’s albedo are sea ice/snow and clouds.  For my first project, I used satellites to look at how the albedo of the Arctic has changed due to recent sea ice retreat (basically, how much darker has it become over the 30-year time period of the satellite record?).  My second project deals with the effects of atmospheric aerosol (particulate pollution) on clouds.  For this project, I spent 6 weeks in the Indian Ocean last year during a field campaign called CARDEX (for Cloud, Aerosol, Radiative forcing Dynamics EXperiment), collecting data both from ground instruments and from small unmanned airplanes.  As I’ll soon be in my sixth year, I’m hoping to be able to defend before I leave for my Fulbright in March.  I’m sure this will present a whole other set of complications, although hopefully nothing too insurmountable!


I started undergrad as a physics major, and after spending a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I decided to pick up a second major in Spanish literature.  This may make it sound like my interests are all over the place, and that’s fairly accurate!  I love to travel and feel very fortunate at the amount of travel I’ve been able to do in grad school, such as meetings (I was at the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009) and sometimes just for fun (almost everywhere is “on the way home” from the Maldives!).  I was immediately interested in the Fulbright program because I love science, and I loved living in South America, so I’ve been hoping that I’d eventually be able to do both at once!


As I study clouds, Fulbright offered a great opportunity for me to expand my dissertation work by comparing my work on the Indian Ocean clouds and pollution we saw in CARDEX with the different regime (i.e. different cloud types, meteorology, and pollution types) that are found in the southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile.  I plan to use my experience with the CARDEX data analysis to look at the SEP stratocumulus.  It typically takes massive resources and collaborations to conduct a scientific field campaign, so I will be working with data collected in the region a few years ago, during a campaign called VOCALS-REx.  Because the interactions between aerosols and clouds are so highly variable, both on a global and local scale, my project will help to place both studies in a more global context.  Since the implications of climate science are so global in nature, I’ve also developed an interest in science communication and outreach (both to the public and to K-12 students) while in grad school.  In Santiago, I hope to also get some experience with this in local schools, which should be an interesting experience in Spanish!


Overall I’m very excited for my Fulbright, but also I have much to do before I leave in March!

Introduction to David Morales

[Note from FPA: David recently got word that he has received a Fulbright grant to be an ETA in Ecuador!]

My names is David Morales. I was born and raised in Southeast San Diego- in a small community, right next to Downtown, called Sherman Heights. I am the first one to attend a university from my family. In June I will be graduating from UCSD, a university that is unknown or, if known, deemed inaccessible in my community.

Throughout my 4 years at UCSD, I struggled with my confidence as a scholar. I felt that the low-income and highly segregated high school that I attended never really prepared me to do the type of academic writing or critical thinking that I was required to do at the university. And although I felt proud and empowered by my culture and my experience growing up in a marginalized community, I could not help but feel less prepared and less articulate than my fellow classmates that, perhaps, were brought up under different circumstances.

I think I have been very fortunate throughout my time at UCSD. As soon as my first year began, I was selected to intern at the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) and in their Language Writing Program. This internship led to my future job as a writing tutor and writing workshop facilitator. The growth and confidence that I acquired while at OASIS led me to apply to the UCSD McNair program. During the length of this program, I conducted research on the militarization of high schools- an issue that I experienced first-hand in my own school. This program gave me the opportunity to present my research in different research conferences, including some at UCSD and UC Berkeley. My experience conducting research and presenting at conferences really boosted my confidence as a scholar. By the end of the McNair program, I was ready to do anything–apply to the most prestigious PhD programs across the nation.

I think that it was towards the end of the McNair program that I started thinking seriously about the possibility of applying the Fulbright program. I remember first hearing about Fulbright during my first year at UCSD. A friend sent me a link to the website through Facebook. I remember reading about the program and thinking that it was one of those things that only geniuses could get, kind of like the Gates Millenium Scholarship in high school. I wrote it off at the time, thinking that there was no way in the world I could one day receive the award or even dare to go abroad for a whole year. But the summer before the start of my fourth year at UCSD was different; I was more confident in myself and in what I could accomplish. As I looked at graduate programs and fellowships, I came across Fulbright again. I was just in time for the application process. I decided to apply.

After completing the application process in early fall, I remember checking my email every day hoping to receive some message from Fulbright. Once I got notified that I had made it to the final round, I do not think that there was a day when I did not check my email. I would check it multiple times a day. One day, I received a small envelope from the Fulbright Commission in New York. It was the notification that I had been accepted to the program!

In September I will be departing for Ecuador on an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant. I chose to apply to the ETA grant because I felt I was more qualified for this position [than for a research grant] due to my experience conducting research in the education sector, my work with OASIS, and my activism in education. I also think that the classroom is a very interesting and unique place. I will be working with university students in a city in Ecuador. I am excited for the learning that I am going to do about Ecuadorian society and its education system. I am also excited to represent the U.S. through my own perspective as a low-income student of color. I plan to conduct research in Ecuador about the educational practices that it employs. I am currently working on my honors thesis for my Latin American studies major and I am looking at neoliberal education and alternative education models in Latin America. I wish to continue this project and explore the educational practices in Ecuador. Overall, I wish to have fun and learn–learn about everything, while I am abroad in Ecuador.

UCSD US Student Fulbright Program Info Session May 8!

US Student Fulbright Program Information Session

Wednesday, May 8

3:30-5:30 PM

Student Services Center

Multi-Purpose Room


Guest Speakers:

Maya de Vries

Fulbright Fellow to Panama



Haiyi Liu

Fulbright Fellow to China



Zoe Ziliak Michel

UCSD Campus Fulbright Program Adviser

Come learn about the US Student Fulbright Program, which sends Americans to more than 155 countries to conduct research, complete an arts project, or teach English!

Undergraduates, grad students, and faculty are all encouraged to attend.

Questions?  Contact Zoe Ziliak Michel at gradadvisor AT ucsd DOT edu.

To be eligible for this program, you must have completed your bachelor’s degree by the time you start your trip, and you cannot have a Ph.D. at the time of application.  The program is for US citizens only.