Marian Azeem-Angel earned her B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Soil and Water Science in 2021. This year, she will travel to Denmark thanks to a Fulbright Open Study/Research Award. Recipients design their own projects and typically work with advisers at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education. Azeem-Angel will be working with Dr. Tenna Riis at Aarhus University.
She learned about the Fulbright Program during a class taught by Dr. Greg Kiker, a professor in the UF/IFAS department of agricultural and biological engineering. Kiker is a former Fulbright scholar too. Azeem-Angel was immediately drawn to the opportunity.
“I heard how competitive the grant is, but I sensed I would regret not taking that chance,” she recalled. “This year only 14 students were selected for study/research grants in Denmark, so I feel incredibly lucky and extremely proud of all the hard work I put into my application.”
Her project, titled “Effect of macrophyte beds in water purification and denitrification of streams,” involves collecting water and macrophyte samples from streams around Aarhus city. The selected streams include a variety of aquatic plant species, sediment types, and proximity to agricultural areas. The project involves measuring rates of nitrogen removal, retention, and their capacity for water filtration in the stream habitats.
Azeem-Angel had been working on an independent research project with her mentor, Dr. AJ Reisinger, assistant professor in the UF/IFAS soil and water sciences department, about the current state of water quality in campus streams.
“He knew I was very interested in pursuing a Fulbright and introduced me to his colleague, Dr. Riis, as her work closely aligned with my research interests and experience in his lab,” she said. “I knew I wanted to pursue opportunities in a western/northern European country due to their advances in environmental research and the opportunity to bring back knowledge that is similar to our environmental challenges here in the United States and Florida.”
“This is a great achievement for Marian and recognizes the hard work she put in as an undergraduate,” said Dr. Danny Coenen, lecturer in the UF School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) and coordinator of the environmental science program. “I hope she’ll be a role model for current and future students to see that their environmental science degree opens the door for amazing opportunities such as this one.”
Coenen emphasized that SNRE’s faculty and advising team are happy to support all interested students during the application process.
Azeem-Angel credits her undergraduate coursework in both environmental science and soil and water sciences for playing a significant role in preparing her for this project.
“My minor provided me with almost a microscale foundation in understanding aquatic interactions and processes, and my major taught the macroscale perspective as to humanity’s direct impact and why this research is so important,” she said. “Not only for the flora and fauna but the people and societies who share these ecosystems and depend on them to thrive.
“The interdisciplinary nature of the School of Natural Resources and Environment allowed me to learn about how much, and in all the various ways, human activity alters the environment, and what steps we need to take to mitigate our impacts,” Azeem-Angel added.
The Fulbright Program offers selected grantees a benefits package that includes:
- Round-trip transportation to the host country
- A monthly stipend to cover room, board, and incidental costs, based on the cost of living in the host country
- Seminars or opportunities to present research
- Pre-departure and/or in-country orientations
- 12 months of non-competitive eligibility (NCE) hiring status within the federal government
- Accident & sickness health benefits
The Program also encourages award recipients to take advantage of opportunities to learn national languages or volunteer with various organizations in the host country to enhance cultural enrichment and immersion.
“For anyone curious about applying for a Fulbright grant, I highly encourage giving it a shot! My GPA was not perfect, and I am a transfer student from a very non-traditional educational background,” Azeem-Angel said. “Take the leap and have faith in your own abilities, advocate for yourself and how you could be an amazing cultural ambassador for the United States in your country of choice.”
There are different grant types available in more than 140 countries at https://us.fulbrightonline.org/. The 2023-2024 competition deadline is October 11, 2022, at 5 pm Eastern Time.