Nine Washington University in St. Louis alumni have been selected to conduct research or teach English this year as participants in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
The program recognizes talented students who are committed to promoting global collaboration and understanding through research and teaching.
The Washington University participants are:
- Francis Aguillard, who earned a degree in architecture from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts in 2013, will study urban development in the United Kingdom.
- Daniel Bromberg, who earned a degree in anthropology from Arts & Sciences in 2015, will study public health in the Netherlands.
- Janice Cantieri, who earned a degree in international and area studies from Arts & Sciences in 2015, will study crisis journalism in Fiji.
- Sarah Cohen, who earned a degree in urban studies in Arts & Sciences in 2011, will teach English in Colombia.
- Mackenzie Findlay, who earned a degree in women, gender and sexuality studies from Arts & Sciences in 2015, will teach English in Indonesia.
- Christian Gordon, who earned a degree in educational studies from Arts & Sciences in 2015, will teach English in Turkey.
- Caroline Gutman, who earned a graduate degree in Chinese from Arts & Sciences in 2009, will study economic development in China.
- Alexander Lu, who earned a degree in neuroscience
from Arts & Sciences in 2015, will research spinal cord injuries in Germany.
- Jeffrey Woodham, who earned a degree in international and area studies from Arts & Sciences in 2014, will teach English in Jordan.
‘An ambassador for the United States’
Lu, who graduated this May, is among the nine participants. He will study mechanisms of spinal cord injury repair in the lab of former Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researcher Thomas Misgeld, MD, PhD, at Technical University Munich.
Previous research has shown that increasing the rate of sealing of a punctured or torn axonal membrane — the cable-like projection that carries electrical nerve impulses — preserves the injured neuron, increasing the probability of its survival.
Lu will work to develop a zebrafish model to study the mechanisms of such membrane repair in hopes of developing more effective therapies for spinal cord injury.
As an undergraduate researcher, Lu studied neural degeneration in fruit flies in the lab of Aaron DiAntonio, MD, PhD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Developmental Biology at the School of Medicine. Later, he researched genetic variants in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s in the lab of Carlos Cruchaga, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine.
Lu says those experiences, coupled with his early and ongoing support from his adviser and mentor Eric Herzog, PhD, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, has prepared him for his Fulbright experience. So have his classes in the arts and humanities. Lu chose Germany as much for its culture as for its network of neuroscience labs.
“One of the main purposes of the Fulbright is to serve as an ambassador of the United States and to share ideas,” Lu said. “The liberal arts education I received provided me that foundation for communication. My research mentors and biology professors helped my growth as a scientist, but undoubtedly I am also grateful to all of the professors and advisers I had as a liberal arts student.”
Ultimately, Lu would like to earn his MD-PhD and work on clinical applications for the almost daily discoveries in neuroscience.
“The buzzword is translational neuroscience,” Lu said. “Today most neurodegenerative diseases don’t have a cure. My longterm goal is to help change that.”