University of Maryland student Arjun Adapa won a 2016-17 Fulbright award on April 20 and will live in the Netherlands for a year to conduct Alzheimer's disease research.
Fulbright scholarships, awarded annually, give about 8,000 students the opportunity to travel to different countries and increase mutual understanding between people from the United States and people from different countries, according to cies.org. Adapa will receive $1,265 per month; he will leave for the Netherlands in August and return in June of 2017.
"I've always been interested in neurological disorders," said Adapa, a senior bioengineering major. "This opportunity would provide me with more experience to be like an investigator for scientists to answer questions about the brain or brain science."
In the Netherlands, Adapa will have the opportunity to conduct research in immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease, drawing from his previous experience researching immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis at this university, bioengineering professor Christopher Jewell said.
"Mentoring Adapa was to help him carve out a piece of a project he was interested in and passionate about … to empower him to first learn techniques and learn about our lab, but then give him the opportunity to lead experiments on his own to help him prepare for opportunities like this one," Jewell said.
Adapa said he hopes to gain mentors in the Netherlands and collaborate with them to understand how they conduct research in their country.
"Gaining mentors and collaborators in a different country … Just being in a place where you have never been before and to learn from them would be a great experience," Adapa said.
Being able to experience cultural immersion while doing research can be very beneficial for various reasons, senior economics and government and politics major Aaron Bhatt said.
"I know a few people who have received the Fulbright award and they have all gone on to do pretty amazing things, whether it be in research or if it is just teaching English," said Bhatt, who is friends with Adapa. "The experiences that people have told me about are getting a cultural immersion-type experience. They are working with kids in another country, picking up another language."
Bhatt noted that it particularly allows for more "in-depth, in-country research."
"I'm studying Indian foreign policy. … If I had applied to the Fulbright [scholarship], I probably would have done something within that vein," Bhatt said.
While Adapa said he is grateful for this opportunity, he added he could not have done it without the support of this university.
"To people who are considering coming to the University of Maryland, I want this message geared towards them," Adapa said. "There are so many resources here on campus that can help students achieve many things. There are so many resources for you to grow academically, professionally and personally."
Gaining new perspectives will help Adapa feel more prepared before attending medical school at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2017, Jewell said.
"He is going to get to spend a year doing research in a great lab, seeing a different country, being immersed there, learning the language. … So that is going to get him a whole set of new perspectives that will help him in medical school," he said.