Lenss, a Presidental Scholar, is one of only 12 grantees nationwide to be awarded a Fulbright to Norway, and one of the first two UI grantees to that country in the history of the program.
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Award: 2021-22 Fulbright Study/Research grant in oceanography to Norway
Degree: BS in Geoscience
Could you give us a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright?
I will be working in a team to research the triggers of phytoplankton blooms in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. My work will be in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the University of Tromsø in Tromsø, Norway. The project is a part of a larger initiative of the Norwegian Polar Institute that is seeking to create a marine-protected area in the Weddell Sea.
What drew you to this field of study?
I feel deeply compelled to build a career that works to understand and protect natural environments. I have always felt inspired by the ocean and after taking an ocean chemistry class my junior year, I became super-curious about oceanography. This project is a blend of ocean chemistry and conservation work, and I feel that it is a great fit for my goals.
How do you envision this will influence your life/future career?
I am so excited about this opportunity because it will allow me to grow personally and professionally. Moving across the ocean all by myself will push me to become more independent and challenge me to meet new people and build a new community. Professionally, this will allow me to experience scientific research in a new way and find out if it is really something I want to do forever. It will also allow me to meet a team of scientists working in a field that I think I want to work in, which will give me great connections moving forward into a PhD and a future career.
"I know that finding research affiliations in a foreign country seems daunting, but talk to your professors and utilize their connections. The academic community is so connected, and I think that just one email, just one question, can become the jumping point to an awesome Fulbright project."
What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright? or What experiences at the UI inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?
I think everyone should apply for a Fulbright. I think anyone can build a proposal and find an idea that inspires them, and the process is open in a way that everyone is eligible and can be a competitive candidate. I know that finding research affiliations in a foreign country seems daunting, but talk to your professors and utilize their connections. The academic community is so connected, and I think that just one email, just one question, can become the jumping point to an awesome Fulbright project.
Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?
I want to say thank you to Dr. Brad Cramer for continually pushing me to become a better scientist, Stratis Giannakouros for always believing in my ideas, Dr. Jane Gilotti for connecting me to the Norwegian Polar Institute, and Dr. Jeff Dorale for guiding me through my first research projects. I also want to thank my family and friends for supporting me along the journey.
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).