By Melissa Riggs
NAU Fulbright Program


Two recent graduates from Northern Arizona University are packing their bags for a year abroad after receiving international grants from the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Alexandra Huff, a geology major from the class of 2016, will go to Greece to conduct ground-breaking scientific research. Margaret Wood, who is graduating this spring with her master’s in teaching English as a second language/applied linguistics, will be an English teaching assistant in Laos. During their stay, they also will serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States.

“I will be conducting research at the University of Athens on my project Bridging Land, Sea, and Space: Geologic Mapping of Santorini Volcano,” Huff said. “This project will draw upon the Santorini Volcano research I did through the NAU in Greece study abroad course and the Mars research I do at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in order to promote scientific collaboration and understanding between the two countries and two scientific communities.”

This highly innovative work will bring remote planetary geologic mapping techniques to the service of the submarine volcanism community to produce the first complete geologic map of a volcano in the Aegean Sea. Huff’s project is important to the global goal of mapping the entire geology of the Earth’s seafloor, which cannot be done by conventional means, and she will document her processes and methodology for future scientists. Her Fulbright experience will transition into a master’s degree in volcanology and doctoral study in planetary mapping.

A Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Laos will help Wood further her qualifications to become an English as a foreign language university professor specializing in Southeast Asia. She has prior English teaching experience in Thailand, Vietnam and China, working with students on many age levels.

“After completing my ETA, I plan to apply for a variety of long-term teaching positions in Laotian universities to further diversify my experience,” Wood said. “In the future, I will expand my career to local teacher training within the region.”

Alexandra Huff in Santorini

Alexandra Huff works on the Greek island of Santorini during her NAU in Greece study abroad program.

She will ultimately develop research from her time abroad to earn her Ph.D. in the Applied Linguistics program at NAU.

NAU also has a Fulbright alternate this year. In the event that one of the program’s recipients withdraws or additional funding becomes available, David Tasker, a doctoral student in Applied Linguistics, may be headed to Slovenia, where he proposed a project to construct a database of English-language university writing in Slovenia, investigate the development of effective writing and create research-based instructional materials that offer clear connections between the linguistic forms and communicative functions of university assignments.

The Fulbright scholarship application process is open to seniors, recent graduates and graduate students. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries.

Students and alumni interested in applying for a Fulbright grant next year or in the future should contact Melissa Hatfield Riggs, Fulbright Program adviser, at natl_scholarships@nau.edu. Candidates apply in the fall and go abroad the following year. NAU internal deadlines for the 2019-20 Fulbright begin in late June.