The University of Iowa

Three UI students and alumnae receive Fulbright research grants for 2013-14

May 14th, 2013

Funds will be used for projects abroad

This story also appears in Iowa Now

Three University of Iowa students alumnae have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to conduct research internationally in 2013-14. This year's UI recipients are Margaret Ross, Rebecca McCray, and Briana Smith.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase understanding between people of the United States and other countries by providing participants opportunities to study, teach, conduct research, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Below are the three UI recipients and a brief description of their projects.

Margaret Ross

Ross of New York City, N.Y., is a 2011 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in poetry, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Harvard College. With her Fulbright award, Ross will travel to China to research and write a book of poetry exploring the cityscape in Nanjing, China, as well as to audit classes in Chinese literature and language with famed Professor Cheng Zhangcan at Nanjing University. She interacted last fall with a commission of Chinese poets visiting the UI’s International Writing Program in Iowa City, whose Life of Discovery program had participating poets write about urban space in the Midwestern U.S.

Rebecca McCray

McCray of Iowa City, Iowa, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the UI in 2010. With her Fulbright award, McCray will travel to Slovenia to research the successes of the Slovenian criminal justice system by researching and writing about Hostel Celica, a former Yugoslav prison. With one of the lowest incarceration rates in the European Union, McCray says Slovenia has much to teach the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. McCray will study Slovenia's transition to independence via the controversial transformation of this unique prison-turned-hostel, ultimately producing a work of long-form journalism from her research.

Briana Smith

Smith of Fridley, Minn., is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the UI, where she also received her master’s degree. She received her bachelor’s degree in German history and English from Hamline University, in St. Paul, Minn. Her project, “Creative Alternatives: Berlin Art Scenes and Cultural Politics, 1976-1999,” examines how East and West Berlin Aktionskünstler (action artists) integrated provocative visual displays into everyday urban spaces in the decades surrounding German re-unification in 1989. Berlin artists creating this “action art” experimented with performance, video, installation, and conceptual art. Smith will follow two generations of action artists from 1976-1999.

UI International Programs provides assistance to students wishing to pursue Fulbright grants. Undergraduates, graduate and professional students, and alumni wishing to apply for a Fulbright award should contact Karen Wachsmuth, International Programs' academic programs and student services administrator, at, for assistance.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit


This story appeared in Iowa Now in two segements, on May 10 and May 14.