Supporting PhD researchers with Fulbright scholarships for US study

Fulbright scholarships sponsored by Elsevier enable Dutch PhD students to study at top US universities

By Michiel Kolman, PhD - July 15, 2021
Fulbright award ceremony 2021
At the Fulbright award ceremony at the US Embassy in the Hague, Dr Michael Kolman, Senior VP of Information Industry Relations and Academic Ambassador at Elsevier (second from left), presents Fulbright scholarships to Kim de Luca, Simon van der Weele and Rob de Haas.

In 1987, I left for the US to do pursue a PhD in astrophysics at Columbia University as a Fulbrighter. Five years later I returned to the Netherlands with a PhD — and the amazing experience of living in New York City.

Having benefited greatly from this opportunity, it makes me especially proud that my company supports Fulbright scholars.

Since 2012, Elsevier has been a sponsor to the Dutch Fulbright Committee, enabling dozens of early career researchers to fulfill their dream of attending the US’s top universities. Elsevier also supports Fulbright scholars from the UK to study in the US.

When I joined Elsevier in 2000, I was happy to learn that many colleagues are Fulbrighters, including our CEO. It is important that companies like Elsevier take their societal role seriously and invest in young scholars. Our data shows that international collaboration and brain circulation contributes strongly to higher research impact. In the Netherlands, the highest impact of brain circulation are Dutch researchers who move to the US and then return back home: Fulbright scholars are great examples of this.

Last month, three PhD researchers from the Netherlands received Elsevier-sponsored Fulbright awards: Rob de Haas, Kim de Luca, and Simon van der Weele. Here, you can read more about their research and ambitions.

Rob de Haas: Using computer simulations to design particles for vaccine development

Rob de Haas, a PhD researcher at Wageningen University (right), with Dr Michiel Kolman before the award ceremony at the US Embassy in the Hague.

Rob de Haas, a PhD candidate at Wageningen University & Research, will attend the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington to do research in Biomedical Engineering.

In my research, I use computer simulations to design de novo capsid proteins that assemble DNA into virus-like nanoparticles. These artificial virus-like particles serve as a vaccine platform on which viral antigens can be very precisely presented to the immune system.

The Fulbright grant will allow me to further develop these unique particles into malaria vaccines by collaborating with the world leader in my field: the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington. I am very proud and grateful to have received this grant and look forward to continue working on this exciting project with our collaborators in the US.

Kim de Luca: Developing new methods to study DNA in the cell nucleus

Dr Michael Kolman presents a Fulbright scholarships to Kim de Luca in a ceremony at the US Embassy in the Hague.

Kim de Luca, a PhD researcher at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, will attend the University of California, Berkeley. Her research field is Biotechnology.

It is very nice and valuable for a young scientist to receive recognition from the Fulbright program, especially in a fundamental field. As a molecular biologist, I am developing new methods to study DNA in the cell nucleus. The better the techniques get, the more we can learn!

I am going to apply at the University of California, Berkeley, a method developed there, inspired by our work in the Netherlands. I see this as a wonderful example of knowledge transfer and collaboration; this is how the circle is made complete again.'

Simon van der Weele: Using ethics and anthropology to research the professional care of people with severe intellectual disabilities

Dr Michael Kolman presents a Fulbright scholarships to Simon van der Weele in a ceremony at the US Embassy in the Hague.

Simon van der Weele is a philosopher and anthropologist doing PhD research at the University  of  Humanistic Studies in Utrecht. He is leaving for Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

My project is at the intersection of ethics and anthropology. From these disciplines I am conducting research on the professional care of people with severe intellectual disabilities. I study how care professionals confront the ethical tensions in their work and how they guard the humanity of the people they care for.

I am extremely excited that the Fulbright grant will allow me to spend three months working with anthropologist Veena Das, who is famous for her work on everyday ethics. I hope that my time at Johns Hopkins University can make me look at my fieldwork with new eyes so that I can ultimately give something valuable back to the professionals I have followed and spoken to.

The Fulbright program

Since 1949, the Fulbright prorgram has offered students, PhDs, scientists and other professionals the opportunity to study, conduct research, or teach at leading universities in the US. The program is named after J William Fulbright, an American senator who, after World War II, wanted to fund a worldwide exchange program to foster mutual understanding between Americans and other nationalities. His initiative came to be a prestigious exchange project that was completed by 57 Nobel Laureates.

Contributors


Michiel Kolman, PhD
Written by

Michiel Kolman, PhD

Written by

Michiel Kolman, PhD

Dr. Michiel Kolman is Senior VP of Information Industry Relations and Academic Ambassador at Elsevier. He is Past President of the International Publishers Association and IPA's Special Envoy for Diversity and Inclusion. He is the executive sponsor of Elsevier Pride and was listed two years in a row in the FT’s Top100 ranking of most influential LGBT senior executives. Michiel is currently co-chair of the Workplace Pride board, supporting LGBTI workplace inclusion. He is also vice-chair of the Accessible Books Consortium, addressing accessibility for the print-disabled, thus supporting inclusive publishing.

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