Two UO graduate students earn prestigious Fulbright awards

Editor's Note: This story was first published by UO Graduate School news on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.

Two University of Oregon graduate students have recently been awarded prestigious Fulbright Awards for 2014-15.

Win McLaughlin, a doctoral student in Geological Sciences, will be heading to Kyrgyzstan under a Fulbright Research Award, while Charlie Hankin, a master’s student in Music Performance, will travel to Brazil with a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Fulbright student awards are intended to increase mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchange, while serving as a catalyst for long-term leadership development

While in Kyrgyzstan, McLaughlin will study fossils to help determine the age of earthquake faults. “Kyrgyzstan is the single most seismically active, or earthquake prone, country in the entire world,” McLaughlin explains. “My work will help determine how old and how active the faults in Kyrgyzstan are, which will help construct hazard maps.”

By identifying the specific species of the fossils she collects, McLaughlin will determine the past age ranges when different animals lived in that region, and thus deduce an age estimate for the layer of rock that a group of fossil animals came from.

The Fulbright Research Award will give McLaughlin much needed time to advance her research. “Fieldwork for paleontology is really time consuming. With 8 months I’ll be able to not only visit fossils sites referred to in scientific literature in Kyrgyzstan, I’ll be able to take the time to go find new fossil localities, collect fossils, map and measure the rock layers, prepare the fossils I find and more,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin also won the Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis competition on May 7, 2014. Click here to watch her winning presentation on YouTube, in which she explains the work she will be doing in Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, Hankin’s Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Brazil will give him an opportunity to bring together three areas of interest: teaching, music performance, and research.

“My primary occupation will be serving as an English-language assistant at a Brazilian university,” Hankins said. “But I will also be teaching classes in musicality and violin to elementary and high school students, collaborating with Brazilian musicians, as well as investigating Brazilian hip hop in relation to the Hispanic Caribbean.”

Music education is gaining importance in Brazil following a 2008 law that integrated it into the public education curriculum, and Hankin’s interdisciplinary assignment to teach both music and English is a reflection of that.

“The Fulbright will serve as a bridge between my Masters in Music at the University of Oregon and a future doctoral program in Spanish and Portuguese/Romance Studies,” Hankin said. “It will allow me to pursue academic research, musical teaching, and performing interests, as well as help me build proficiency in Portuguese.”

The Fulbright program offers 8,000 grants each year for graduate study, research and lecturing or teaching. Recipients from the U.S. are able to study or teach abroad, and recipients from other countries come to the U.S. for their scholarship year.

The Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, through annual appropriations from the Congress. Partner governments, foundations, corporations and educational institutions contribute additional support for the program.