Fulbright Science and Technology Award Winners Announced

By Jeffrey Thomas
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - Students from 27 countries have been named as recipients of a new science and technology scholarship for doctorate degree study at leading U.S. universities, Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes announced November 21.

The announcement of the prestigious Fulbright awards following on the first U.S. higher education delegation trip to East Asia and the news that the United States has reversed a post-September 11 drop in student visa demand, “underscores our message that the U.S. government and higher education system welcome talented international students,” a State Department spokesman said.

Hughes announced the creation of the new award program in January at the University Presidents Summit on International Education, which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings co-hosted. Rice outlined her vision of a more active role for the U.S. government in its collaboration with the nongovernmental sector in promoting American higher education internationally. (See related article.)

“We want to open minds, to foster debate and dialogue, to encourage the pursuit of knowledge,” Hughes said at the summit.

Forty-four percent of the winners of the new Fulbright scholarship are women.

The 2006 recipients come from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Korea, St. Lucia, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Venezuela.

Rice recently called the Fulbright Program, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006, the "flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government."

The Fulbright Program awards about 6,000 grants annually to students and scholars from more than 150 countries. During the 60 years of its existence, the program has awarded grants to more than 275,000 individuals – three-fifths of them non-Americans – to study, teach and conduct research.

In the words of the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, the program he authored "aims to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."

This year Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh became the 35th Fulbright alumnus to win a Nobel Prize. Yunus, who credited his year as a Fulbright graduate student in economics at Vanderbilt University in 1965-1966 for expanding his sense of possibilities, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering and championing the practice of microcredit and microfinance to create opportunities for the poor.

Former Fulbright recipients include 65 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, which is awarded for achievement in print journalism, literary works and music.

Unlike most Fulbright scholarships, which are awarded through bilateral programs between the United States and a specific country, the new science and technology scholarships are awarded through a single worldwide competition.

According to the State Department, recipients of the new science and technology awards were chosen “through a rigorous, multi-tiered, merit-based selection process consisting of in-country competition and review, field and discipline merit review by top-level U.S. academic leaders, and nomination by a blue ribbon advisory panel, including a Nobel Laureate and university deans and presidents.”

Final selection was made by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

For additional information, see Fulbright Program.