University of Rochester

Five Rochester Students Headed Abroad through Fellowship Programs

June 14, 2012

This year, five students from the University of Rochester were awarded fellowships to study or conduct research abroad. Lili Carter Sarayrah '14(E), a rising junior at the Eastman School of Music, and Gabrielle Cornish, a rising senior in the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering, will attend intensive summer institute programs as 2012 Critical Language Scholars. Katie Bredbenner '13, Amanda Chen '14, and Maria Victoria Guano Zapata '14 were selected to participate in the German Academic Exchange Service-Research Internships in Science & Engineering Scholarship (DAAD-RISE) program, and will each spend their summers conducting research in German laboratories.

Sarayrah and Cornish are the 10th and 11th Rochester students or alumni to be selected for this highly competitive Department of State program in critical-need languages and cultures since 2006. Critical Language Scholarships are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and provide American undergraduate and graduate students with fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences abroad.

At Eastman, Sarayrah is working toward a bachelor of applied music degree in violin and is a member of a string quartet. She also studies literary translation on the River Campus, and is pursuing an undergraduate certificate in the program. As a Critical Language Scholar, she will study advanced Arabic in Jordan and is the fourth Rochester student to be selected to study that language.

For Sarayah, the scholarship will take her back to her childhood community; she lived in Jordan with her parents before moving to Tennessee at age 11. While she possesses a working knowledge of Arabic, the CLS will allow her to engage in a formal study of the modern language, a skill that will be useful in her translation program. The scholarship also is an opportunity for her to visit the conservatory where she first began playing violin and attend the Jordan Festival, an event that celebrates the rich culture of the country.

Gabrielle Cornish '13, who is working toward a bachelor of arts degree with dual majors in Russian studies and music, will travel to Ufa, Russia, to advance her proficiency in the language. In addition to her studies at Rochester, Cornish participated in the highly selective and intensive summer language institute at Middlebury College and spent the spring 2012 semester abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar. She also advances her knowledge of the language as a volunteer at the Jewish Family Services of Rochester, where she helps Russian immigrants acquire computer skills.

A perennial member of the Dean's List, Cornish serves as a teaching assistant for courses in the Department of Computer Science, is a resident assistant, and is vice president of the Undergraduate Musicians' Council. She also works in the Gwen M. Greene Career & Internship Center and before being selected for the Critical Language Scholarship was an intern in U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) local office.

Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), RISE is a summer internship program for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to conduct research in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, and engineering. In the past five years, 24 Rochester students have been chosen as DAAD-RISE scholars; this year, four Rochester students won placements, with one declining the offer in order to participate in a different research program.

RISE students conduct research at universities and research institutions across Germany for up to three months during the summer. They are matched with advanced doctoral students who serve as their mentors and receive a stipend from DAAD to assist with living expenses, while partner universities and research institutes provide housing assistance.

Katie Bredbenner '13, who is working toward of a bachelor of science degree in molecular genetics and a bachelor of arts in philosophy, will spend the summer interning at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen, Germany. Before heading to Goettingen, she will participate in a short-term intensive German class in Munich.

Bredbenner, who has spent the last academic year working in Professor Vera Gorbanova's research lab, which focuses on aging, DNA repair, and cancer, will assist a doctoral student in stem cell niche research at the Max Planck Institute.

In addition to serving as a teaching assistant in genetics and biochemistry courses, Bredbenner, a native of Millville, Pa., is a member of the Undergraduate Philosophy Council, River Campus student music appreciation group No Jackets Required, and Sihir Belly Dance.

A native of Danville, Calif., Amanda Chen '14 is working toward a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering and will spend her RISE experience working in Bremen, Germany, conducting research on boron lipid delivery at Jacobs University.

She has previous experience in a laboratory setting, having served as a research assistant in Professor Jack Werren's Lab, and most recently, in Professor Danielle Benoit's Lab, where she studies therapeutic biomaterials. Additionally, she participated in a Research for Undergraduates (REU) program at Clemson University last summer, where she researched electrochemical properties of polymer ultra-capacitors in Professor Mark Roberts' Lab.

While at Rochester, Chen also has advanced her study of the oboe through lessons at the Eastman School of Music and participation in the River Campus Symphony Orchestra. In fall 2011, she won the River Campus Concerto Competition and recently performed with the chamber orchestra.

An active member of the campus community, Chen participates in the Global Water Brigades, serves as a managing editor for Rochester's Journal of Undergraduate Research, and is a teaching assistant for chemistry and biomedical engineering classes.

As a Xerox Fellow through the David T. Kearns Center for Diversity in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, Maria Victoria Guano Zapata '14, a chemical engineering major, spent the last year and half working as a research assistant with Professor Todd D. Krauss. She will build upon that experience during her RISE-DAAD fellowship at Forschungszentrum Jülich, where she will conduct research related to fuel cells.

In addition to her research work with the Krauss Group, she served as a teaching assistant in two math courses. As a freshman, she was awarded a continuing student scholarship through the University. Outside of the classroom, Zapata, who is a native of Caracas, Venezuela, has engaged in a diverse range of activities and is a member of the Debate Team, Soccer Club, and Water Polo Club.




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