Six Kansas University students will be traveling abroad this year under the auspices of the Fulbright Program.
They are continuing a strong tradition of Jayhawk Fulbrighters. Since grants were first awarded in 1946, 361 KU students have received the award, said Anne Merydith-Wolf, project coordinator for the office of international programs.
The school sends an average of seven students on the program each year, she said.
"I think the fact that we have this many on a yearly basis really speaks to the quality of our students and the programs that prepare these students," Merydith-Wolf said.
The Fulbright Program was initiated by Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright after World War II to promote a better understanding between the United States and other countries. Since its inception, 85,000 U.S. citizens and 144,000 international students have participated in the program.
More than 900 international students have studied at KU through Fulbright Grants, Merydith-Wolf said.
At KU, students who apply for a Fulbright are first screened by a faculty committee. Those who are chosen are then reviewed at a national level, where their proposal is recommended, labeled as an alternate or denied.
Then, the applications are sent to host countries where institutions there pick which projects and applicants suit them best.
"There are several pretty large hurdles to go through," Merydith-Wolf said. "It's a fairly difficult scholarship."
Two undergraduate students received Fulbright awards this year:
l Sean Gordon, Overland Park, studied genetics as an undergraduate at KU. This fall, he will be a research student at a new international molecular biology program, sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the Georg-August University in Goettingen, Germany.
Gordon was a research student in the molecular biosciences department as an undergraduate.
l Nikki Horne, Lenexa, recently completed her degree in psychology. She will leave in September to do neuropsychological research at the University of Paris.
"It's a process of trying to discover what area of the brain is responsible for cognitive functions," she said.
Her research has implications for treatment and rehabilitation in diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and multiple sclerosis.
Horne is especially interested in MS because her mother has the disease.
"It's just a very unpredictable and varied disease," she said.
As an undergraduate, Horne did research on multiple sclerosis at KU and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"Being able to get involved in research was the best preparation," she said.
Four graduate students received Fulbright awards this year:
l Soren Larsen, a Lawrence graduate student in geography, will travel to northeast British Columbia, Canada, to research "sense of place," or how people perceive the area they live in and what their regional identity is. Larsen will spend nine months in the rural logging and ranching area, which is a mix of indigenous peoples and European immigrants.
He first became interested in the area after visiting a friend who was studying there.
"I've just been fascinated with British Columbia and the northern interior," he said.
Larsen did work for his master's thesis there and will return for a much larger project that focuses on the entire area.
For his research, he'll do interviews, participate in local activities and do research in local libraries. Because he is leaving in September, Larsen will be there for the coldest and darkest months of the year.
"Whenever I tell people what this is like, I refer them to (the TV show) 'Northern Exposure'," he said. "There are loggers and lots of real eccentric characters."
l Max Maximov, a graduate student originally from the Russia, will travel to Germany to study the representation of Russia and Russians in the literature of the German Middle Ages.
Maximov completed his primary and secondary education in the former Soviet Union before traveling in 1990 to Kansas to be an undergraduate student at Fort Hays State University.
Maximov studied German literature for his master's degree and will begin work on his doctorate in Germany.
"I was looking for something original, not to do only with German literature, but something else," he said. "Since I also know Russian I thought that would be a great thing to look into."
l Mark Munzinger, a Wichita graduate student, is working on his doctorate in medieval history. This fall, he will travel to Krakow, Poland, to examine the judicial activity of the High Court of Magdeburg Law at the Fortress of Cracow from the 14th to 16th centuries.
Munzinger said he will investigate how German law was interpreted as German immigrants mixed with Polish peoples.
"German customary law was not really influenced by Roman law," he said. "The reason I'm looking at it is to see how the Poles adapted and used this law."
Munzinger has made previous trips to the area and received other awards supporting his studies. But he said the Fulbright trumped all the other awards.
"I've been working at this for a long time," he said. "This kind of makes a nice cap to it all."
l Ratna Radhakrishna, a Clinton, Ill., doctoral student in geography, will travel to Honduras to study natural resource uses by the indigenous Miskitu people and how those uses differ between the sexes.
Radhakrishna's study will incorporate Honduran people, and especially women, in the research.
"This is to document what women do," she said. "It's also to get women involved a little -- previously they've been excluded from the political realm and aren't the ones who get invited to work with outsiders."
Many of Miskitu men travel to work on lobster boats for six to nine months of the year in order to make money, she said. In her study, she will compare how natural resource use differs when men are home and away.
"I expect to find a difference in the spaces and the natural resources that men and women use," she said.
-- Staff writer Matt Merkel-Hess can be reached at 832-7187.