Monday, April 8, 2019
student Dani Lipman standing on top of Van Allen Hall

Dani Lipman, who will receive a BS in physics and astronomy from the University of Iowa this May, is the winner of a Fulbright Study/Research Award in Education to China for 2019-20

Dani Lipman

Hometown: West Des Moines, Iowa
Award: 2019-20 Fulbright Study/Research Award in Education to China
Degree: BS physics and astronomy 

What will you'll be doing with your Fulbright?  

I will be studying the motivations for Chinese university faculty to participate in science outreach in China. China has become a world leader in science in terms of both progress and in the amount of publications produced, making this a very interesting time to learn about the communication of science in the Chinese culture. During my Fulbright, I will be working with professors at Nanjing University's School of Astronomy and Space Sciences, interviewing and collaborating with them to develop a plan for science outreach initiatives. I want to help develop connections for professional scientists to engage with local schools, museums, and the larger community, in order to share the work of university scientists. 

What drew you to this field of study?

I have always been split between my curiosity for science and my love of storytelling. That's why, for me, outreach and research go hand-in-hand. One of the reasons people enjoy research is because of the amazing results we find. So why not find the best way to share these discoveries with the world? 

I've been involved in research since my freshman year at Iowa. I am fascinated by the science of planets and stars and I have a love of the language used to describe them. I really believe that science and math act as a common language between cultures, one that is becoming increasingly valuable and undoubtedly inspiring as our understanding of the universe progresses. Looking into how other cultures experience and share the growth of science is just as important as the science itself. 

How do you envision this will influence your future career?

I plan to pursue a PhD in astronomy with aspirations of becoming a professor at a research institution. While research and results are a huge part of an academic career in science, I believe it is just as important for academic professionals to share their work with the general public. Communicating science can be difficult, so learning the best way to approach different populations and cultures is needed to develop the best form of communication. My Fulbright year in China will help me develop outreach initiatives. I plan to become someone who is both an independent researcher and a scientific translator. My Fulbright will help me come closer to this goal to join the global wave of science outreach.

What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright? 

Pursuing a Fulbright means creating an avenue for your excitement for something to become an experience. The best advice I can possibly give to someone is to figure out what you don't know; find what bothers you, what sticks in your mind, and then figure out who can give you the answer. Something that important is worth finding an answer for, and somewhere in the world will be the perfect place to look for it. 

Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?  

The Fulbright process is something that takes more than any one person can accomplish alone. I’ve been fortunate to have Dr. Karen Wachsmuth and her team as mentors to support and help shape my project along the way. Additionally, Dr. Christopher Squier, Dr. Jeanine Abrons, Dr. Gavin Fulmer, and Dr. Dongwang Liu have been incredible help in preparing my application and making it the best version possible. 

I owe a huge thank you to Dr. Carol Severino for her incredible support throughout my time at UI, and for first introducing me to the Fulbright Award; Dr. Lori Adams for her inspiration for and support of science outreach and helping me solidify science outreach as part of my career; and Dr. Hai Fu and Dr. Cornelia Lang for encouraging me to create connections and pursue science outreach as part of a career in research.

Of course, I am forever grateful to the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy for giving me invaluable opportunities in research, outreach, and leadership. I have enjoyed every part of my undergraduate years in the department and have been inspired by my experiences and my professors to become part of a growing group of active scientists.

Explore the many funding opportunities open to UI students and alumni

Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance.  Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).