Fifteen alumni and one recent Law Center graduate will venture to points around the globe in the next nine months after receiving the prestigious Fulbright award, according to a Sept. 15 university press release.

The Fulbright Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. government and run through the State Department, provides grants to teach or perform unique research abroad for one academic year.

The Office of University Fellowships at Georgetown, which helps to facilitate the application process for students, said interest in the competitive program is on the rise.

“We’ve had an increase in applications over the past few years, and I hope this continues to be a trend,” said Maryam Mohamed, associate director in the fellowship office.

Forty-eight candidates applied from the main campus and Medical Center for this year’s competition, up from 39 in 2009 and 42 in 2008. The 2011 application cycle is consistent with the trend, with an unofficial total of 57 applicants.

These figures have translated into Fulbright recipients, with 15 winners in 2009 and 18 in 2008. That’s up from nine in 2007 and just three the school produced in 2006.

ohamed believes students have been particularly successful at obtaining these grants because of the university’s strong programs in undergraduate research, extracurricular teaching opportunities that give students experience in a classroom setting, and the number of students who study abroad.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that [the Fulbright program] is GPA-centric,” Mohamed said. She stressed that review committees are more concerned with whether or not students have cultivated the skills necessary to carry out their project proposals or teaching assignments.

Emily Langer (COL ’06), one of this year’s winners, successfully demonstrated her abilities and level of experience. An Italian and English double major, Langer will set off for Trieste, Italy, next month to conduct research on the sole Nazi concentration camp that operated in the country.

Before receiving the grant, Langer had conducted research in Trieste as a Lisa J. Raines fellow as an undergraduate. She plans to use her time as a Fulbright scholar to conduct the research necessary to write a book in English about the history of the concentration camp and the city’s reaction to it, both past and present.

“I always knew I was fascinated by this place,” said Langer, who is taking a leave of absence from her position at The Washington Post to pursue the project.

According to its website, the Fulbright program aims to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

Langer’s intention is similar. For her first experience in Trieste, locals welcomed her and shared their memories of World War II and the concentration camp that operated right outside their doors.

Patrick Dowd (SFS ’09), another recipient this year, is conducting research on a project he titled “Out with the Old, in with the New: Exploring India’s Emerging E-waste Landscapes.” E-waste, or discarded electronic and electrical equipment, is a distinctly modern phenomenon that is ballooning into a serious environmental concern, according to Dowd.

In conjunction with the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, Dowd’s project includes conducting research on the contemporary approach to the issue. He will work on developing a business plan that addresses all aspects of e-waste, from legal issues to environmental standards.

Dowd, who served as president of Georgetown University Student Association during the 2008-2009 term said he believes everyone should be paying close attention to this area of the world.

“India is a country that ought to be on every single Georgetown student’s radar,” Dowd said in an email. “I believe that India, in spite of the many challenges it faces, is destined to become one of the 21st century’s most influential leading nations.”

Other Fulbright scholars hailing from the Hilltop will spearhead a diverse array of research projects this year, from studying artistic groups in Germany to climate change in Africa to religion and national identity issues in Oman.

All of the projects delve in academic research, but the human element of this exchange program is not lost on the grant recipients.

“My priority is talking to and learning from the people of Trieste,” Langer said. “I hope I give them a chance to tell me something really important about their lives.”

Langer and Dowd are joined by 13 other main campus winners: Abed Bhuyan (SFS ’08), Laura Cocas (GRD ’11), Angela Crandall (SFS ’10), John D’Angola (MSB ’10), Grace Erdmann (COL ’10), Jay Gonzalez (COL ’09), Maria Iliakova (GRD ’10), Courtney Ivins (SFS ’10), Aakib Khaled (COL ’10), Jess Kuntz (SCS ’10), Moises Mendoza (SFS ’07),

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