Five URI students awarded prestigious Fulbright grants

Paul Carvalho

Five University of Rhode Island students have been awarded Fulbright grants to conduct research abroad.

The recipients are Paul Carvalho, a doctoral student from Torrance, California, studying biological and environmental science; Tabatha Lewis, a native of Brookfield, Connecticut who graduated in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and management; Aria Mia Loberti, a senior from Johnston, Rhode Island, studying philosophy, communication studies and political science; Cynthia Malambi, a senior political science and French major from Providence, Rhode Island; and Jessica Vandenberg, a doctoral student studying marine affairs from Huntington Beach, California.

Carvalho will spend his Fulbright grant studying coral reef fisheries in the Philippines as a continuation of his doctoral research on Indonesian coral reef fisheries. “I’m half Filipino but have never visited, so the Fulbright provides a great opportunity to continue my research and learn more about my heritage,” he said.

Once he completes his Fulbright year, he hopes to find a postdoctoral fellowship to further his studies of marine fisheries in tropical or temperate environments.

Lewis applied for the Fulbright grant because of her interest in water and sanitation issues in Indonesia, where she will work with the Islamic University of Indonesia to carry out research on well water contamination from the improper installation or management of septic systems. She also plans to explore the social stigmas around sanitation systems and their impacts on human health.

“I absolutely love Indonesian culture, people and language, and I’m eager to get back and start my research,” said Lewis, who spent a year studying the language and culture of Indonesia as the recipient of a Boren Scholarship in 2018. “It was the best year of my life, and to be able to return to do research in my field is a dream come true.”

She plans for a career in international development, focusing on water and sanitation systems in Indonesia with a goal of strengthening the systems and the communities that use them.

Loberti will pursue a master’s of research degree in rhetoric at Royal Holloway, University of London, during her Fulbright year, focusing on how females are portrayed in Ancient Greek texts. Legally blind since childhood, she has spent many years as a disability activist, including serving as the first legally blind youth delegate to the United Nations and a delegate to the U.N. International Human Rights Summit. She was also a U.S. representative to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women Youth Forum.

“To hold a Fulbright in my hands is incredibly validating,” she said. “Since I have been an activist for as long as I can remember, I have always been curious about how we use language to cultivate justice and understanding, with which my grant program is uniquely equipped to address.”

After completing her time in London, Loberti plans to earn a doctorate in rhetoric at Pennsylvania State University on her way to a career in academic research, while continuing her gender- and disability-rights activism…[Read more]