US Student Fulbright Program Info Session May 12

Edit: Please click here to RSVP.

The US Student Fulbright Program allows graduate students and recent bachelor’s graduates to go abroad to one of more than 155 foreign countries to conduct research or teach English.  Interested students are encouraged to attend the information session below.  Interested students who cannot attend the information session should contact me individually at

US Student Fulbright Program Information Session

Tuesday, May 12
4:30-6:30 PM
Student Services Center (SSC)

Multi-Purpose Room


Zoe Ziliak Michel

UCSD Fulbright Program Adviser
Foster Chamberlain
Fulbright Fellow to Spain

Sarika Talve-Goodman
Fulbright Fellow to Israel

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

Kristina Pistone on Watching the World Cup in Chile (and Argentina)

Hello everyone, greetings from Chile!  Sorry for the long delay; things have been fairly busy.  It’s a little hard to believe that I’m now officially halfway through my Fulbright grant (you may remember that in the southern hemisphere, the academic year runs March-November rather than September-June, because of seasons).  For anyone who would like to read about my work and life in Chile so far, I have a more frequently updated blog at

Regarding my project, things have gone somewhat slower than I had hoped, due in large part to a number of only-in-South-America setbacks, such as “official data” which is blatantly and inexplicably not quality-checked, meetings with relevant persons canceled and not rescheduled, and general unavailability of instruments needed to calibrate the other instruments.  (Not that things have completely stalled; if you’re interested in my project I have a few posts on my own blog about that!)  Fortunately (from my perspective), the feeling of unproductivity in our projects seems to be common among many of us Fulbrighters here in Chile (or perhaps is just indicative that many of us had far too ambitious projects plans).  But there has definitely been no shortage of cultural experiences.  One of the major work delays this month was also one of the biggest cultural experiences: the World Cup, or the (Copa) Mundial as it is commonly called.

As I described on my blog, Chile’s first game was played on a Friday evening, so basically the entire city shut down early (well, earlier than they normally do on a Friday afternoon).  As with any sport, not everyone was into it, so I still went to my mapudungun class, but as this is close to the city center, we could tell when the game was over (Chile won) by enormous cheers coming from outside.  The second win 2-0 against Spain (the reigning champions from 2010, so quite a surprise) which secured their space in the octavos de final was on a Wednesday– I didn’t even bother to go into work that day, even before they won.  People would disappear in the middle of the day to watch a number of other countries play as well, particularly Colombia and Germany, although oddly not neighbors Argentina– more on that later).

The saddest experience was Chile’s match against Brasil (on a Saturday, so no official work conflict).  After 1-1 (which, Chileans will remind you, was the product of an inadvertent own-goal on their side, Brasil couldn’t even score against Chile!!), extra time, and 4/5 penalty kicks, Chile’s fifth attempt hits the post and Brasil advances.  After the partying and vandalism following the two wins in the group stage (there was the threat of a transit strike during the third game against the Netherlands because of vandalism to the buses– I guess “fortunately” they lost, though?), this last-minute loss/elimination left the city of ~7 million people completely silent.  I know of no cultural event in the US that could provoke such a united response among nearly everyone in the country.  But the team returned home as heroes, including taking selfies with la presidenta.

Chile Mundial

(photo credit Katy Indvik)

As an undergrad (also at UCSD!) I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, so I have a certain affection for that city and Argentina as a whole.  From the beginning I suspected that statistically, Buenos Aires was going to be a more interesting place to be during the final than Santiago, and after delaying because I was trying to convince other people to come with me, I bought my plane ticket the week before the final (right after Argentina secured their spot in one of the last two matches).

In the semifinal match Argentina v Holland, it was really interesting to see the Chileans rooting for the Dutch.  There is an almost sort of sibling rivalry/resentment between these two countries in particular that I really can’t fully explain.  According to Chile, it surely goes back to Argentina stealing land from Chile and cutting off their energy imports, and anyway, Argentine wine totally sucks, you guys; according to Argentina, have you heard what Chile did to Peru and Bolivia? Chile’s pretty terrible, there! This is one of the very few areas in which I will play the role of dumb gringa and say “oh, really? I didn’t know that, that’s interesting, I’ll have to read up on it more” and not get into it any more than that.  Regardless, I was very glad I went to Buenos Aires, even though it resulted in my cell phone being a casualty at the obelisco (PSA: kids, don’t let yourselves get distracted for even a second, even when they steal your hat.  Or maybe grow a third arm so that you can have one hand on everything at a time, and an extra for the hat-stealing contingency, sigh).  But regardless, it was great to watch the game with people who actually wanted Argentina to win.  And even having lost to Germany, the argentinos were still partying.

Argentina Mundial

Dino Hat

(selfie with my soon-to-be-stolen hat.  It had dinosaur spines down the back and everything…)

Also… I hadn’t noticed it before, but I’m pretty sure the Biblioteca Nacional in Buenos Aires was heavily inspired by another library…

Kristina’s First Post from Chile!

Greetings from Chile!  Zoe asked me to write this post about 3 months ago, but in the flurry of writing a dissertation, defending said dissertation, and doing all travel preparations including packing my entire life into a storage unit it’s been on my to-do list for at least a month.  Sorry about that!  I’ve been giving more incremental updates on my blog at

Given the nature of my work, I didn’t have to deal with any special export licenses for my Fulbright, but just getting myself out of the country was an adventure, specifically the visa.  I may have mentioned previously that the visa application includes a number of seemingly excessive requirements, such as an FBI background check (which itself requires a set of fingerprints– no, not THOSE fingerprints, you need to do it THIS way), a medical form (not actually a form, just a generic letter from my doctor saying I don’t have communicable diseases; I don’t!), passport-size photos, two nearly identical forms with interesting fields such as “mother’s place of birth” and “exact departure date,” and 2-4 weeks.  Did I say 2-4 weeks?  Ha, I actually meant 6 weeks, plus an inexplicable hour and a half in the waiting room at the consulate once it was allegedly finally ready (I fed that meter about four times).  Having just spent the day in the Jefatura Nacional de Extranjería y Policía Internacional to register my visa, this was a pleasantly short hour and a half actually!  (But I made a new friend in the Italian exchange student in line behind me, so yay on that).  Tomorrow (eh, or maybe next week, I have 30 days…) I need to do the whole thing over again in the Registro Civil to get my ID card.  Double yay!

My roommate is great, my apartment is good, the neighborhood is pretty nice.  I found it on a housing-sharing website for Chile, after many disappointing dead ends.  This week I have my Fulbright orientation as well, and will finally get to the Universidad de Chile where I’m working– hopefully after having finally finished dissertation revisions!  (protip: you can submit your final dissertation from elsewhere, as long as you have a very nice labmate/friend who will turn in the physical papers for you to OGS).

Hasta luego!

[Note from FPA: Fulbright grants in the southern hemisphere often start much later than those to the northern hemisphere, since the seasons and thus school years are flipped.  Thus, although Kristina was awarded a 2013-14 Fulbright grant, the grant didn’t actually start until March 2014.  Also, OGS is the Office of Graduate Studies.]

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!

Application Tips from Kristina Pistone

[Note from FPA: Kristina has been selected to receive a grant to Chile!  I’m very excited for her.  Also, she says to listen to me for everything, but of course I should acknowledge that I am occasionally wrong on things. 🙂 ]

— Listen to what Zoe says, for everything

— Like any piece of writing, the more time you have to revise it, the better it will be.  Start early.  Get input from people who have done this before. Revise.  Get more feedback.  Let it sit for awhile.  Go back and revise again.  Etc.

— If you’re in the sciences, this is very different from, e.g., an NSF grant.  My advisor and proposed collaborators thought I needed more “science,” but this goes back to Rule 1.  You’re not writing for scientists.  Now I get to do the actual figuring-out of the science plan!

— However, do get the language requirement out of the way (or at least scheduled) earlier rather than later.  People tend to be out of town August and September.

Fulbright Application Tips from Wesley Hsu

[Note from FPA: Wes is likewise at the recommended stage.  He’s applying to develop a method of conveying natural disaster information via smartphones in Taiwan.]

Seeing as I’ve only made it to round 2, this is a guide about how to reach round 2 of the application process, namely how to be recommended.  I’ve yet to hear official word about whether my potential host country’s Fulbright committee would like to give me the grant.  Also, this is a list of tips you can use that aren’t mentioned on the website or by advisors.   There are obvious things to keep in mind, such as starting early (early summer), taking advantage of your resources (Zoe, previous advisors/mentors), and so on.  You will have those tips hammered into your mind from the information sessions and the website.  Instead, these are some tips you may not have thought of.  In no particular order, here they are.

Have your proposal torn apart, over and over, by multiple people.  One of the best ways to write a strong proposal—or any persuasive writing, for that matter—is to hand your writing to the harshest critics.  Over and over.  The harshest critics will magnify the weaknesses in your paper and pinpoint your mistakes.  Zoe, as much as we appreciate her, is a harsh critic.  Don’t let her kindness fool you, she holds several degrees in Linguistics, knows a thing or two about grant writing, has a black belt in editing, and she will tear your paper apart.  Find these kinds of people, and use them like your life depends on it.  Professors, advisors, mentors, bosses.  If you have friends that you know are great writers, use them too!  You have no idea what your reviewers’ backgrounds will be, so mold your proposal so it is clear to as diverse a set of people as possible (well, within reason, of course).  When you hand them your proposal, don’t just hand it to them.  Do two things.  First, tell them “Don’t hold back; give me everything you’ve got.” Second, actually give them the prompt itself so they know what they’re looking for.  Afterwards, look at their edits, decide which changes you believe make sense, revise your proposal, and go back for round 2.  I went through over fifteen revisions before I clicked that “Submit” button.

Use the “Application Tips.” On the Fulbright website, you can find a page called “Application Tips,” which provides you a list of questions you ‘should’ address in your proposal and personal statement.  They’re more like ‘have to’ address questions, if you ask me.  Before you even start outlining your proposal, go through this list, and answer—in writing—all of the questions.  Writing it out will force you to articulate the answers.  Afterwards, group the questions into categories.  For example, “Where do you propose to conduct your study or research?” and “Why does the project have to be conducted in the country of application?” can definitely go into the same category.  Then, based on these categories, start outlining your paper while constantly checking back to make sure you are addressing the questions in each of your paragraphs.  I would go as far as to say each of the categories can even be a paragraph.  Someone should be able to read your proposal, and then answer all the questions on that list themselves.

Get friends and family involved.  Talk about your project to friends and family.  You are already aware that the committee reviewing your proposal will most likely not be experts in your field.  Chances are you know plenty of friends and family that aren’t experts in the field either.  Tell them about your project and see if you can get them as excited about your project as you are.  This will also help you gauge what kinds of technical jargon you should exclude, and ways to explain your project in non-expert terms.  I would recommend getting to a point where when someone asks, “What’s your project?” the conversation ends with them saying something like “Wow, that’s really interesting.”  The next step after that is to try and talk with professors both in and outside of your field, and have them say the same thing.  Your proposal should convey this same sense of passion.  If you aren’t even excited about your project yourself, then clearly something is wrong.

Grab lunch with your references.  Since you’ll be asking for three references, I would recommend treating them to lunch before they write your recommendation.  Not only is this a nice gesture, you’ll also be able to talk more in depth about your proposal.  Unlike a paper, you’ll actually be able to answer any questions they have about your proposal.  Your references are writing letters explaining why they believe your project is feasible and worth doing.  They should have a thorough understanding of your project prior to writing your recommendation.  This is a great opportunity not only for you to help them better understand the project you are proposing and its feasibility given your skill set, but also for you to realize that the fact that they are asking certain questions may indicate what was unclear in the proposal.  If these points warrant clarification, make it happen in your revision.

Make your plans crystal clear.  This point is mentioned everywhere.  However, I want to emphasize that your actual plan should be so clear that upon finishing reading your proposal, there is no doubt that you have thought this through.  Personally, I bolded the section of my proposal that was the actual proposal.  [Note from FPA: He just put the section headings in bold.]  I also did not just explain my plan; I provided a numbered timeline for the different stages of the plan.  This shows that you haven’t just vaguely thought about your plan, you have a full plan of attack.  While many people will tell you to avoid technical jargon, I believe there is a way to play it to your advantage.  By using a little bit of jargon (and explicitly defining it) in your plan, you demonstrate that you are using certain standard methods of practice in your field of research—you know what you’re doing.  It may well be the case that when you get as specific as explaining your timeline, you will need to use some jargon to describe what you will be doing at that stage of the project.  It shows a depth of understanding of your field of research.

There you have it! I hope this helps you get an edge in your Fulbright application.  While these tips won’t apply to everyone, I believe they are general enough that they will help most future Fulbright applicants.

Best of luck on your application process! Get out there and get that grant!