Student scholars earn dozens of awards in 2024

June 25, 2024


This summer and into the next academic year, 21 current students or recent graduates will participate in scholarship or fellowship opportunities for national and international study, research, and service.

These prestigious student scholarships and fellowships allow students and young alums to amplify their academic pursuits as they prepare for their graduate studies and future careers.

Fourteen Spiders received awards to advance cultural understanding and foster study abroad opportunities

Robert Bentley, who graduated in May, received a Humboldt German Chancellor Fellowship to research the history of German youth cultures abroad in Berlin. Bentley is the first UR student to receive this competitive fellowship and one of five U.S. scholars to receive this award.

Bentley, who majored in history with a minor in German studies, will live in Berlin and continue archival research he began during his time at UR on the youth cultures of punks and skinheads in East, West, and reunified Germany during the 1980s and 1990s.

Four other recent graduates received Fulbright grants to study in Bulgaria, Chile, Mexico, and Taiwan.

Eli Beech-Brown will complete a Fulbright research grant in Chile and study habitat conservation. Zazi Halla, Jordan Jones, and Lillian Tzanev will complete Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships. Halla will teach English in Taiwan and pursue coursework to further improve her knowledge of Mandarin. Jones will serve as an English teaching assistant in Mexico. Tzanev will travel to Bulgaria and will teach English at a public high school, where she will also work with the debate team. 

Three students will spend their summers studying critical languages — languages that are less commonly taught and underrepresented in study abroad but are important to U.S. interests, national security, and economic prosperity.

Claire Morris, a rising sophomore, received a Critical Language Scholarship to study Indonesian in the city of Malang in East Java. She will further her language studies by staying with a host family and taking Indonesian classes at Universitas Negeri Malang.

Luke Orris, a rising junior, will also study Indonesian. He received a Boren Scholarship and will complete a summer program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and then study abroad in the fall in Malang, Java, Indonesia, through the Southeast Asia Flagship Language Initiative.

Also a Boren Scholar, Eli Chanceya recent graduate, will study Vietnamese through the Southeast Asia Flagship Language Initiative. He will complete a course at the University of Wisconsin–Madison this summer and continue his studies abroad in Hanoi, Vietnam, this fall.

Six UR students were also awarded also awarded competitive Gilman Scholarships to study abroad. Senior Lay'la Harmon is headed to France, senior Redet Lemma to South Africa, junior Josie Mastandrea to Italy, junior Madelaine O'Blenis to the United Kingdon, junior Janissa Soto to New Zealand, and junior Nikoloz Gvelesiani to Hungary.

Scientific research secured national honors for four UR students

Sophie Goldberg, Jamie Kaplan, and Holly Wemple received Goldwater scholarships, one of the most sought-after and prestigious undergraduate awards in science and math. Including these awards, UR has had 41 Goldwater Scholars since the program’s inception in 1986.

Goldberg, a senior chemistry major, is researching organic chemistry focusing on small-molecule pharmaceutical design. Kaplan, a junior chemistry major, is researching electrochemistry, and Wemple, a senior biochemistry & molecular biology major, is researching how human health is impacted by climate change.

Recent graduate Evelyn Ramirez received a competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which supports outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to be high-achieving scientists. Ramirez, who is researching chemical synthesis related to pharmaceuticals, is entering an organic chemistry Ph.D. program at Emory University.

Several rising seniors were honored for their service and activism

Zoe Cultrara received a Udall Undergraduate Scholarship in recognition of her work in environmental activism. The Udall program identifies future leaders in conservation and environmental issues as well as Native American policy and health care. Cultrara, who was selected in the environmental category, joins a network of scholars and alumni leading environmental efforts and will receive financial support.

Bezawit Mulatu was named a 2024–25 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. Mulatu, an international student from Ethiopia double majoring in biology and business administration, will join about 140 other Newman Civic Fellows in learning and networking opportunities that help nurture their development as civic leaders.  

Christian Herald was honored as a finalist for a Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Truman finalists are supported in clarifying career goals, writing and interviewing skills, and getting a head start in preparing applications for graduate education and scholarship competitions in the senior year. Herald is interning this summer at MDRC, a nonprofit education and social policy research organization based in New York City.