November 20, 2019

Six Purdue University students receive Fulbright grants

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Six Purdue University students have won Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants. 

Samaah Al-Najjar, Samuel Al-Nimri, Jackson Bennett, Brendan Butler, Thomas Carpenter, and Taylor Lee were selected for 2019-20 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants, which fully fund a postbaccalaureate year for graduate students and alumni to forge international bonds through research, graduate study or teaching English abroad.

Students apply for the highly prestigious grants through the National and International Scholarships Office, which is housed in the Honors College.  Al-Najjar and Al-Nimri received the English Teaching Assistantship, while Bennett, Butler, Carpenter, and Lee each received a research grant.

“Impactful teaching, meaningful research, and cultural understanding are hallmarks of the Fulbright Program,” says Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. “I’m extremely proud of our Purdue students who have demonstrated they have the academic skills and personal commitment needed to earn one of these prestigious Fulbright grants as these valuable experiences will remain with our Boilermakers for the rest of their lives.”

Al-Najjar, from Chicago, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, is now in Bulgaria. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on international migration. Al-Najjar also spends time writing poetry and received the Bain Swigget Award for Best Single Poem at the 2019 Purdue Literary Awards. She has taught physics to children at a summer camp in the United States and on her Fulbright scholarship is teaching English in a secondary school in Sofia.

Al-Nimri, from Arlington Heights, Illinois, is one of only four in the new Fulbright program for the Palestinian territories, teaching English in the Palestinian Affairs Unit-managed American Spaces of the West Bank. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves who first postponed attending university to participate in a German television game show. Al-Nimri is now a Purdue 2019 social studies education graduate. He has previously interned with Teach For America and advocates to close the gap of educational inequity in the U.S. Upon return from his Fulbright, Al-Nimri intends to further his education for a life invested in teaching others.

Bennett, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, graduated with a master’s degree in interdisciplinary ecological sciences and engineering, and is conducting research in Morocco to identify regions that are at high risk of future water stress and to support Morocco’s own regional water management strategies. His interest in community-level water management began during the Flint water crisis, which occurred less than 50 miles from his home. He intends to pursue a career as a data scientist focusing on energy or water resources.

Butler, from South Bend, Indiana, graduated in chemical engineering with a Bachelor of Science and is now on his Fulbright scholarship in Italy. He is conducting research in a lab he toured while studying abroad, Politecnico di Milano’s Laboratory of Applied Physical Chemistry. Butler is working on a device using a biomaterial-coated microbot to control the release rate and location of drug delivery. His past experience includes interning with Eli Lilly and Co., the City of South Bend, and working on drug technology research at Purdue.

Carpenter, from Bloomington, Indiana, graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering. He is now pursuing fuel cell and renewable energy system research within Norway’s context of becoming a renewable energy economy. As an undergraduate, he participated in biofuel and fuel cell research, and previously conducted research in Denmark. In the future, he intends to continue conducting research on renewable energy-integrated fuel cell systems.

Lee, from Fort Collins, Colorado, anticipates receiving her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in May 2020. She will participate in a research project in New Zealand investigating the risk of rugby players developing short- and long-term neurological deficits. This integrates with her desire to improve the safety of athletes through technology and preventive safety measures.

From its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to foster international collaboration in the arts and sciences by awarding grants for students to conduct research in a host country or teach English abroad. This signature United States program was established following the end of World War II, and is funded by the U.S. State Department.

These Purdue alumni will join the distinguished ranks of innovators, artists and intellectuals who have participated in the Fulbright’s mission of cultural exchange. Notable Fulbright alumni include U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, gold medalist Olympian Lee Evans, novelist Ursula K. Le Guin and poet Sylvia Plath. 

Media contact: Joseph Paul, 765-494-9541,

Source: Logan Judy, 765-496-0153,

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