Three members of the EMU community (one student, two faculty members) selected as Fulbright Finalists by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

Three members of the EMU community (one student, two faculty members) selected as Fulbright Finalists by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

YPSILANTI — The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board recently selected one student and two faculty members from EMU as Fulbright finalists. 

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers over 400 awards in more than 135 countries for U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research, and carry out professional projects on a global scale. College and university faculty, students, and professionals have the opportunity to join a network of over 400,000 Fulbrighters gaining new connections and greater mutual understanding.

“The two main Fulbright programs for students are the research program and the Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship (FLTA). EMU students tend to apply for, and are most competitive for, the FLTA,” remarked Fulbright advisor Carla Damiano. 

Senior Presidential Scholar and psychology major Rana Aabed has been awarded the FLTA in Türkiye for 2024-2025. The FLTA is designed for American students to gain more exposure to different cultures and languages.

“I am excited to immerse myself in a new culture, gain a deeper understanding of global perspectives, and foster cross-cultural connections,” remarked Aabed. “Having the opportunity to teach English abroad to Turkish students, as a U.S. ambassador with my Palestinian American heritage, will serve as a great global and collaborative experience.”

Aabed applied to Türkiye after a visit where she fell in love with the country’s culture, architecture, and people. Her family was her primary source of inspiration as they supported her throughout the application process. She is looking forward to the experiences and opportunities that come with being a Fulbright Scholar. 

“The Fulbright scholarship will challenge me to step outside my comfort zone, adapt to new environments, and develop resilience and independence. Being a Fulbright Scholar is recognized globally and can enhance your profile, credibility, and marketability in both academic and professional spheres.”

The Fulbright organization also offers the Open Study Research Award, which allows individuals to design projects and work with advisers at foreign universities or other forms of higher education facilities.

Secondary Education Mathematics professor, Dr. Stephanie Casey, has been awarded a Fulbright Open Study Research Award to continue her STEM education research at the University of Canberra in Australia in 2025. 

“Australia is known worldwide for being a leader in STEM education research. I deliberately selected the University of Canberra in Australia due to its outstanding STEM Education Research Centre (SERC) and its team members’ expertise in spatial reasoning,” stated Casey. 

Casey’s interest in teaching data literacy grew exponentially after she began teaching AP Statistics. When she noticed that most mathematics teachers lacked confidence when teaching data literacy, she decided to focus on researching how students think about data visualizations, Casey then began creating curriculum materials to help STEM teachers teach data literacy. 

“I'm looking forward to learning how students interpret modern, big data visualizations to improve data literacy education worldwide. Through this opportunity, I will be able to establish international collaborations that I will continue to work with after I return to EMU.”

Mathematics professor, Dr. Ovidiu Calin, also received a Fulbright Open Study Research Award to perform AI research at the University of Bucharest in Romania in 2024-2025. Calin is originally from Romania and obtained his bachelor’s degree in mathematics there. 

“I have not returned as a scholar since leaving to become a graduate student at the University of Toronto in 1995,” replied Calin. “Feeling the need to reconnect and share my academic knowledge and experience with those I began with, I decided to hold a fellowship at my alma mater.”

Calin plans to use his Fulbright award to investigate innovative architectures for neural networks that are inspired by principles from physics. “I also intend to share concepts from my book, Deep Learning Architectures, which lays the foundation for a fresh cohort of scientists,” noted Calin. 

To learn more about the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program visit,

To learn more about the Fulbright Scholar Program visit,


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

May 15, 2024

Written by:
Brooke Whittaker

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher