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Students walk by the Torchbearer statue as spring flowers bloom in Circle Park.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, continues to be successful in producing Fulbright awards, with 13 students and recent graduates selected for the 2023-24 awards. Five students were named alternates.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals in partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide. The program provides awards to about 8,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals each year, giving them the opportunity to expand their perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue.

As they carry out their grant-funded work, students work with, live with and learn from the people of their assigned host country.

“UT is honored that the Fulbright organization continues to recognize the talent, dedication and academic achievements of our students,” said Amber Williams, vice provost for student success. “The Fulbright award is a remarkable opportunity for our students to broaden their horizons, deepen their understanding of the world and inspire continued academic excellence. I’m grateful to the faculty and the staff of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships for the unwavering mentorship of our students.”

Meet the Recipients

Colton Adams

Colton Adams of Gray, Tennessee, is a senior majoring in honors ecology and evolutionary biology with a minor in neurology.

Adams will be traveling to Latvia to collaborate with the zoology and animal ecology lab group at the University of Latvia, investigating questions pertaining to the behavioral ecology and acoustic communication in mixed-species flocks of birds.

“To say that I am fortunate and privileged to be awarded such an honor would be an understatement, and I am immensely grateful for all of the professors and mentors that have helped me reach this point,” said Adams. “Researching in Latvia, a country and culture that identifies strongly with the natural world, affords me the opportunity to study animal behavior in a truly beautiful place.”

Eilish Bennett

Eilish Bennett of Centerville, Tennessee, is a senior studying natural resource and environmental economics with a minor in geographic information science.

Bennett will be teaching English at a small high school in the rural Czech Republic.

“Having been raised on a farm in rural Tennessee, I am excited to return to the small-town lifestyle, but this time in the Czech Republic!” said Bennett. “I can’t wait to explore the culture and landscape in this intimate setting.”


Alice Grosserode

Alice Grosserode of Johnson City, Tennessee, is a senior majoring in social work.

Grosserode will be working as an English teaching assistant at a school in Latvia.

“I’m so excited to immerse myself in Latvian culture as an educator, and I know this experience has so much to teach me,” said Grosserode. “I’m also honored to get to be a representative for my own home while abroad.”



Leah Gutzwiller

Leah Gutzwiller of Cincinnati is a senior studying biomedical engineering.

Gutzwiller will be working as an English teaching assistant in elementary and middle schools in Taiwan to support the country’s goal to be a bilingual country by 2030.

“My previous experiences abroad have shaped me personally and professionally,” said Gutzwiller. “I look forward to continuing this personal and professional growth in Taiwan and am excited for the adventure ahead.”


Madison Lackey
Madison Lackey

Madison Lackey of Hendersonville, Tennessee, graduated in May with degrees in political science and philosophy and is now a master’s student in UT’s Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs.

Lackey will work as an English teaching assistant at a school in Três Lagoas, Brazil.

“I am beyond honored to be a Fulbright scholarship recipient,” said Lackey. “My passion for serving others, education, and the ways in which governmental systems can cultivate and resolve social and political issues are the propulsive elements in my pursuit of undertaking an English teaching assistant opportunity. Through living in Brazil, I hope to better understand and weave together my interest in world governmental systems and my desire to bring resolution to internationally prevalent social and political issues, especially those oppressing marginalized groups, with the aid of my classroom experiences.”

Gabriel Laos

Gabriel Laos of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is a master’s student studying architecture.

Laos will be working in Namibia, where he will seek to design a model of a rural agricultural empowerment center that gives small-scale agricultural entities an opportunity to borrow machinery, use processing equipment, package and refrigerate their wares, and transport their goods to market.

“I’m honored to have received the Fulbright Research Award and would like to express my gratitude to the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships for their unwavering support,” said Laos. “I look forward to conducting my investigation in Namibia and seek to strengthen the ties between our two countries by uplifting rural farmers through architecture.”

Josh Miller

Josh Miller of Johnson City, Tennessee, is a May 2022 graduate with degrees in mathematics and Hispanic studies.

Miller will enroll in the environment and development master’s program at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, where he will work with an atmospheric chemist and use machine learning to estimate the pollutant output of wildfires and assess the potential respiratory health impacts on communities near wildfires.

“Studying in Europe has always been a dream of mine, and I finally did it,” said Miller. “Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. I’m excited to experience UK culture and meet new interesting people.”

Sonidda No

Sonidda No of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a senior studying linguistics.

No will work as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan, where she will cultivate her teaching skills in lesson planning, interaction patterns and collaborative education for students learning English as a second language.

“It is an honor to be selected for such a prestigious award and to be able to explore a country that has such a rich background in culture, language and music,” said No. “As someone who is a first-generation Korean American and immigrant, I aspire to help immigrant families and students transition from one country to the next by bridging the language gap, opening doors of opportunities for those hoping to connect with their new world, and facilitate the sharing of culture and ideas while bringing families and communities together and honoring my mother and late father.”

Celine Phan

Celine Phan of Nashville is a senior studying neuroscience with a minor in psychology.

Phan will be teaching English at a high school in Bac Giang, Vietnam. By living in Vietnam, she hopes to better understand the social and economic implications of medical literacy and access.

“I am so honored to receive the Fulbright scholarship, and it means even more that I will be able to carry out this role in my parents’ home country,” said Phan. “I cannot wait to teach and learn from my future students.”

Emily Roca Rice

Emily Roca Rice of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a master’s student studying studio art with a concentration in painting and drawing.

Inspired by family heritage and a previous artist residency in Honduras, Roca Rice will investigate recurring motifs, visual storytelling and sustainable ways of making art in the country while maintaining a studio practice and working with local contemporary artists.

“One of my long-term goals is to create a bridge and eventual artist exchange between Southeastern Appalachia and Honduras — two regions of the world with rich histories of traditional craft,” said Roca Rice.

Jennifer Shaneberger

Jennifer Shaneberger of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a fourth-year doctoral student studying international relations and comparative politics.

Her research will take her to Sweden to work with Linköping University’s Division of Migration, Ethnicity and Society to better understand how political rhetoric impacts migrant labor-market integration.

“Over the last eight years, we’ve seen an increasing number of Swedish political parties incorporating anti-migrant rhetoric into their manifestos, and I’m curious about how this rhetoric is influencing migrants’ ability to find and maintain employment,” said Shaneberger.

Jeffrey Tinley

Jeffrey Tinley of Knoxville is a doctoral student studying higher education administration.

Tinley will be conducting research at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. His research investigates how postsecondary vocational and professional programs in the Flanders region integrate work-based learning and engage stakeholders to align programs with workforce needs. He is interested in how these programs can inform program design and the assessment of work-based learning at American community colleges.

“I am excited to gain a new perspective on postsecondary education that will help me contribute to critical debates about the future direction of community colleges,” said Tinley. “I look forward to seeing how this experience shapes my own development as a scholar and leader within the community college system of Tennessee.”

The 13th student offered a Fulbright has declined the award.

The seven students who were designated alternates will receive awards if placements become available in the coming months. This year UT had 40 Fulbright applicants and 25 semifinalists.

UT’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships supports students and alumni as they apply for a wide range of nationally competitive fellowships, including the Fulbright award. URF’s support includes individualized advising that helps students develop competitive candidacies, application essay writing workshops and interview preparation.

“Every year, we enjoy helping students tell compelling stories about themselves, their studies and their aspirations through the lens of an application,” said Laura De Furio, acting director of undergraduate research and fellowships. “We are thrilled for our Fulbright awardees who have an amazing year ahead and we are grateful to all of the faculty mentors who supported them along the way.”

Students and recent graduates interested in applying for Fulbright awards are encouraged to visit UT’s Fulbright web page to learn more about the campus application process.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,