News & Recipients

Six USF Graduate Students Receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program Awards

Fulbright Medaling Ceremony

2023-2024 Recipients were given Fulbright medals of recognition by USF World and the Judy Genshaft Honors College.

In attendance at the medaling ceremony were (from left to right) Lidiana Rios Barreto, Jonathan Rodriguez, Gina Pantano, and Elizabeth Vicario. Not pictured – Rachel Sanderson and Sabrina Chowdhury.

Six University of South Florida (USF) students have been awarded grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to spend the 2023-2024 academic year abroad undertaking an advanced research project or teaching English. This is the first time that every recipient in the cohort is a current USF graduate student or recent graduate from a USF graduate degree. This also marks the first time that a USF student veteran has been selected for the prestigious award. 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The aim of the program is to build lasting ties between the U.S. and other countries, awarding approximately 2,000 grants annually and operating in more than 160 countries across the globe.

a closer look at this year’s USF Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients

Sabrina Chowdhury

Sabrina Chowdhury, a recent graduate from the USF Morsani College of Medicine’s master’s in medical sciences program, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistantship to Uzbekistan. Originally from Orlando, FL, Sabrina is currently working as a lecturer for a Human Physiology course at the University of Florida. In Uzbekistan, Sabrina will teach students at the secondary and post-secondary levels and engage with the local community through STEM educational reform initiatives, as well as engage in community service to provide equitable access to education and health care in underserved areas. She is excited to immerse herself into Uzbekistan’s diverse culture and form meaningful connections while abroad. 

Gina Pantano

Gina Pantano, a current Ph.D. student in the USF Applied Physics graduate program, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant to Germany. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Gina’s research project in Germany aims to address the technological constraints of modern electronic devices due to the unprecedented increase in the demand for computation and data management. This will be done by classifying and understanding new materials (altermagnets) whose electronic properties are enhanced by the presence of crystal defects. Her work will contribute to substantial breakthroughs in the design of energy-efficient, lower-power devices and help mitigate the toxic purification process of materials. As a Fulbrighter, she is looking forward to engaging with German culture through outreach activities at local elementary schools, where she will share her love of science. She is also excited to explore the beautiful city of Mainz with her colleagues. 

Lidiana Rios Barreto

Lidiana Rios Barreto, a current Ph.D. student in the USF English graduate program with aconcentration in literature, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant to France. She is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has been living in Orlando, FL for eight years. Lidiana’s research project in France seeks to compare the nature of interactions between African American and French soldiers during the Great War using qualitative data, including textual records such as autobiographical works and historical documents. Upon her return from France, she intends to further develop her Fulbright research project by addressing race relations in the U.S. Army. Ultimately, the completion of this Fulbright project will contribute original research to her dissertation which she plans to turn into a book.  

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez, a current Ph.D. student in the USF Anthropology graduate program, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant to Dominica. He is the first USF student veteran selected for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. In Dominica, Jonathan will research the archaeological evidence which characterizes the dynamic nature of a Maroon settlement in the country. His Fulbright research project will be the first archaeological investigation of a Maroon site in Dominica and is important for the field of archeology and for Dominicans who are interested in learning more about Maroon history and anti-slavery resistance in the Lesser Antilles. Jonathan’s research interests include anti-slavery and anti-colonial resistance movements as well as Afro-Caribbean religions in colonial Cuba and Ybor City. It was during his master’s program at USF that he was introduced to Caribbean archaeology and Maroon studies. As a first-generation Puerto Rican doctoral student, Rodriguez believes more Caribbean people should study “our history, heritage, and culture.”

Rachel Sanderson

Rachel Sanderson, a current Ph.D. student in the USF History graduate program at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant to Spain. Rachel serves as the Associate Director of La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archives of the Americas, a position she has held since the project’s inception in 2016. Her Fulbright research project examines the evolving documentary and social practices that helped to shape, challenge, and at times, reinforce identities in early colonial St. Augustine, FL, the northernmost outpost in Spain's vast overseas empire. In Spain, she will consult documents generated through non-clerical institutions, connecting distinct archival practices -- parish registers, Crown issued inspections, locally drafted muster rolls and petitions -- from which patterns of identification emerge. Rachel’s research highlights a rich yet understudied component of the United States' early colonial history and challenges concepts of racialization and social organization firmly embedded in narratives of the past. 

Elizabeth Vicario

Elizabeth Vicario, a current Ph.D. student in the USF Environmental Engineering graduate program, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant to Ghana. Elizabeth’s research is focused on water governance in informal settlements. In the capital city of Accra, informal settlements lack public water services and residents must practice "self-supply." Self-supply is the use of alternative water sources like streams and shallow wells, which are vulnerable to urbanization and the effects of climate change. In this transdisciplinary research project, she will study how and why people practice self-supply, as well as how their practices impact household and community water resilience. Community members will then participate in workshops to discuss the vulnerabilities of their current practices and develop a roadmap towards greater water resilience. This study will bring up ideas about community strength, sustainability, and change, and the success of the work will depend on involvement of residents. As a Fulbright recipient, Elizabeth is most excited to make lifelong professional and personal connections.

Fulbright Medaling Ceremony

Pictured (left to right) with the students are Dr. Kiki Caruson, Assistant Vice President of USF World, Dr. Charles Adams, Dean of the Judy Genshaft Honors College, and Lauren Chambers, USF Student Fulbright Program advisor.

Current USF students and alumni who are interested in learning more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and applying, please contact USF Student Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA) Ms. Lauren Chambers at