Six Brigham Young University students and alumni are semi-finalists for the 2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the Fulbright Program offers funding to graduates for a year of graduate study, research, or English teaching in over 140 countries with the goal to promote international goodwill.
Meet five out of the six BYU Fulbright semi-finalists.
James Dalgleish (’15) grew up in Provo, Utah. He graduated from BYU with an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, before completing his master’s degree in biostatistics from Columbia University. He is a semi-finalist for the Fulbright United Kingdom Study/Research Award and plans to pursue his Ph.D. at Cambridge University where he will continue his work in cancer research.
James developed an interest in the genetics of cancer at a young age after his father died of leukemia. Following his mission in Florida, he wanted to make a difference and do something meaningful. He said, “I found it thrilling I could discover how an unseen world worked using statistical methods. I was hooked on science.”
While at BYU, James’ mentors, such as Dr. John Prince (formerly Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry), made a profound impact on him. James fondly remembers his interview with the Prince lab. “I dropped by and had an interview with Dr. Prince. He was impressed, but he told me I would have to play soccer with his lab. I played my hardest and realized it had been a long time since I played soccer. I remember his amazing moves. They let me join team ‘Proteome,’ and I enjoyed the lab. I think having someone you like to work with can be more important than the actual topic you study.”
When asked how his BYU experiences prepared him for the Fulbright award and his future career, James mentioned Dr. Steven Wood (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry), “Beyond just rote memorization, BYU and Dr. Wood’s class specifically tried to make us great problem solvers and use what we knew to draw conclusions about things we didn’t . . . That sort of critical thinking is really important after graduation.”
James’ experiences at BYU also contributed to building his character. Dean James Porter’s (College of Life Sciences) teaching had a profound impact on him, “He loved what he taught and made it interesting, but I could sense he cared about his students . . . it was clear he was delighted to help me understand anything. I think if I could be so inclined to serve others like he was, I would be doing quite well.”
James was drawn to apply for the Fulbright award because the organization’s mission to increase cooperation between countries and build relationships fit exactly with what he was doing. “I had previously done a great deal of work that might be termed ambassadorial as I worked as a member of the Student Advisory Council at BYU and made real strides to improve understanding disabilities on campus,” James said. He feels the Fulbright mission to build bridges between cultures will provide opportunities to make use of his experiences abroad.
After he completes his degree at Cambridge, James said, “My dream is to find and design trials for a drug target for osteosarcoma (a pediatric bone cancer) that parallel the success of leukemia treatments. I aim to use this program to springboard to international work in Europe to develop new statistical methods and apply them to reveal new therapeutic approaches [for cancer]”
Ethan Edwards (’22), a senior physics major from Springville, Utah, is a semi-finalist for the Fulbright University of Helsinki Study/Research Award in Finland where he plans to pursue a master’s degree in theoretical and computational methods. Ethan will also conduct research with a professor who works to develop models for the European Space Agency project known as the Laser Interferometer Satellite Array (LISA). His master’s work will prepare him for further research in this area as a doctoral student after which he hopes to work in academia.
Ethan’s interest in physics began as a child when his aunt took him to bookstores. There they read from popular science magazines and books, such as The Universe in a Nutshell. Of those trips, he said, “My family always encouraged me to be curious, and those bookstore trips led me to an interest in space and physics. I’ve loved it ever since!”
Of his time at BYU, Ethan said, “It has been incredible. I have learned much more than I ever thought I was capable of when I began my studies. One of the most formative experiences in my education happened in the first semester of my sophomore year. Although I had taken calculus twice in high school, I bombed the AP exam. I went into college thinking I couldn’t do anything requiring more than basic mathematics. During my freshman year, I realized I still really wanted to study physics, so I signed up to take calculus for the third time in my life . . .. On the first day of class, our teacher introduced himself and said it was his first day teaching at BYU. I thought I was doomed! As it turned out, Dr. Robert Snellman [Department of Mathematics] was one of the best teachers I ever had, and with his help, I aced the class! This experience with calculus taught me about the power of persistent effort.”
While researching graduate programs, Ethan discovered a program in Finland at the University of Helsinki that suited his interests of applying computational field theory to questions in cosmology. The fact he loves Finland, where he served his mission, is a bonus. He heard about the Fulbright Program after talking with a professor at the University of Helsinki who encouraged him to apply. He reached out to the Office of Prestigious Scholarships at BYU to learn more.
Ethan said, “Studying in Finland would be exciting because of my connection to Finland and the chance to work on a truly massive endeavor. As a Fulbright scholar, I hope to personify the important role of scientific research in strengthening intercultural ties. As humans take on ever more challenging endeavors, the need increases to collaborate on an international scale.”
Isabella Errigo (’20) grew up in a small town north of Chicago. She received her undergraduate degree in environmental science and international development at BYU. Isabella is now finishing up her master’s degree in environmental science and sustainability from the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at BYU. She is studying how wildfires impact rivers and streams. If awarded the Fulbright scholarship, Isabella plans to spend 10 months in Ecuador learning how different agricultural practices impact aquatic biodiversity in the Amazon.
Isabella said, “I have always loved spending time outside and feel protecting our planet is important because everything we do is related to the health of our planet (including our health).” Isabella’s time at BYU has shaped her commitment to lifelong learning and service in this field.
During her undergraduate experience, Isabella completed an international development internship in Thailand where she worked with a small nonprofit organization that taught hill tribe villagers to live in a more environmentally and economically sustainable way. After her internship, she said, “I felt committed to learn about and contribute to greater socio-ecological resilience and environmental justice both locally and worldwide.”
Mentored research also helped her discover her interest and passion for science. She said, “My time working for Dr. Ben Abbott [Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences] as an undergraduate student connected me with my [Fulbright] affiliate in Ecuador and helped me develop the skillset I need to execute my proposed [Fulbright] project . . . Additionally, the professors I have worked with have introduced me to new interests and provided me with more support than I could have ever hoped for. Their time, attention, and belief in me have helped me learn a lot, create new goals, gain confidence, develop as a person and a scientist, and find success in many forms.”
Isabella first heard about the Fulbright program during a fieldwork trip to Ecuador with her advisor. She said, “While there, I fell in love with the landscapes we visited and the work we did. Additionally, I met my advisor’s colleague in Ecuador and learned she combines a lot of my interests (such as environmental health and science communication with the public and policymakers) in her work. Finding a mentor with so many overlapping interests was exciting and what inspired my desire to return to Ecuador and work with her as a Fulbright student. Being chosen for this award would be an honor, and it would be exciting to return to Ecuador and learn more about the Amazon through my research. Receiving the Fulbright would help me be a better person, scientist, and member of the global community.”
Andrew Murphy (’22), a senior from Springville, Utah, decided to major in English and minor in European studies because of his love of reading, writing, and European culture and literature. He is a semi-finalist for the Fulbright Study/Research Award in the Slovak Republic. He hopes to spend 10 months studying how Slovakian and Hungarian communities use food and food-related objects, laws, and literature to maintain their cultural identities and create connections with other cultures. While in the Slovak Republic, he also hopes to increase his understanding of European culture, literature, and law.
Andrew gained a love for Central and Eastern Europe during his mission to Hungary where he met many Hungarians with close ties with Slovakia. He became fascinated with the unique culture of Hungarian minorities in bordering countries because, while Slovakia has many literary and cultural similarities with Hungary, there are also important differences. Andrew said, “Food culture is something that ties humanity together and can play a big part in creating cross-cultural relationships.”
Experiences at BYU have prepared Andrew well for this project. He participated in a College of Humanities grant sponsored research project studying Soviet-era Hungarian folklore and presented papers and projects at the BYU English Symposium and the Folklore Society of Utah. He said, “I will be forever grateful for Dr. Jill Rudy [Department of English] and Christine Blythe from BYU Special Collections who helped guide me in my Hungarian folklore and history research. It was amazing to add to scholarship in a niche area which interested me.”
Andrew also credited his success to the “wonderfully taught English and European Studies classes where I gained skills to write proficient academic texts, lead research projects, and think critically to find areas of scholarship I can participate in.” He said, “My BYU education instilled in me the importance of love and charity in every aspect of life. I deeply appreciate the kindness and service people showed me at BYU. I hope to continue to spread these same attributes throughout my personal and professional life.”
Andrew learned about the Fulbright Program from the Office of Prestigious Scholarships at BYU. “I heard about famous Fulbright scholars including Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, and John Steinbeck, and was amazed I could participate in similar programs. I would love to further my scholarship and promote foreign relations at the same time! I would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a Fulbright Scholar. It would be a life-changing experience to connect with Slovakian scholars and participate in a unique area of scholarship.”
Andrew plans to attend law school where he is interested in environmental, cultural property, and criminal law. He also hopes to continue his academic interests in Slovakian, Hungarian, and European literature and folklore.
Carrie Sandholtz (BA ’85, MA ’17) is from Provo, Utah and hasn’t let her years between academic degrees stop her. As a Fulbright semi-finalist, Carrie hopes to bring her wealth of experience in language teaching – both ESL and Spanish – to a classroom in Spain through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
Her love for Spain and its culture began just after she and her husband were married when they decided to take a gap year to teach English there. Of that experience, she said, “Eight days after we got married, on a cold January morning, we arrived bleary-eyed . . .. The directors of the English Academy met us at the train station and brought us directly to a little shop where we ate warm churros and chocolate . . . and I was in love!” Now, after raising six children and earning her master’s degree in Spanish pedagogy, she is eager to return to Spain to again teach English.
Carrie has always been involved in teaching. As a young mother living in New Jersey, once her children were in bed, she would drive to a community center to teach evening ESL classes to immigrants from around the world. She said, “This rich experience colored the rest of my adult life . . . My gift for Spanish combined with my innate desire to connect with these brave, adventurous people helped me form friendships I treasure.”
Carrie is a dedicated and passionate teacher. Of her experiences at BYU, she said, “my most meaningful experience is teaching five days a week, interacting with students who are hungry to improve their Spanish skills so they can connect with and serve their fellowmen. Truly, I feel the Spirit every day as we study the language together. We’re learning together to make the world a more connected and compassionate place. I love teaching and love my students so much!”
During her master’s program, Carrie created a pilot peer tutoring program where native Spanish language learners were paired with native-speaking peer tutors. She would love to offer a similar program to students in Spain. She sees peer-tutoring as a way to further the Fulbright mission, “I would love to be part of a concerted effort to build bridges between the United States and Spain [through the Fulbright Program].”
To learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, visit