Fulbright Scholars to Study in Denmark, Tanzania, Niger

TAMPA, Fla. (July 28, 2009) – Three of the University of South Florida’s top graduate students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships to support studies overseas during the 2009-2010 academic year.


Fulbright scholarships are among the most widely recognized and prestigious academic awards in the world. USF’s Fulbrights will travel to Denmark, Tanzania, and Niger to complete doctoral dissertations in fields that have strong connections to those areas of the world.


Adam Buben, a philosophy doctoral student, is receiving a Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship. He plans to go to the Søren Kierkegaard Research Center at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, to work on his dissertation on the history of the philosophy of death culminating in the existentialist approach as well as co-edit a book of essays on Kierkegaard, a 19th century Danish philosopher who has been called the father of existentialism. Buben is intrigued by the similarities of Eastern and Western philosophy leading to a focus on the philosophy of religion, existentialism and samurai culture.


“I feel extraordinarily blessed to have the support of so many wonderful people in all of my academic endeavors. I certainly do not deserve their kindness, nor do I deserve this generous award. I just want to keep working hard so that no one ever feels that their confidence in me has been misplaced,” said Buben.


Elizabeth Danforth was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship in support of her travels to Haydom, Tanzania, to study nutrition and diet among rural adolescents. International health policy has highlighted adolescence as an important time in life, particularly the impact of good adolescent nutrition in reducing maternal and infant health risks in developing countries. Danforth plans to examine how local culture and the social lives of adolescents influence food consumption to develop strategies that may be effective in improving their nutritional status.


“This award is a huge honor, and I'm so thankful to be selected. I hope my research will lead to better knowledge of adolescent nutrition and be useful to nutritional anthropology and global health,” said Danforth.


Kelley Cosby Sams received a Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant to support her travels to Niger, West Africa, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1999-2001. She will conduct her dissertation research on reactions to blinding trachoma and the national trachoma elimination program. Worldwide, trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness, and affects mainly women and children. Sams will explore local cultural models concerning eye-health, and the interaction between biomedical and individual models.


“I am so grateful to have received this generous funding to make my research possible. I hope that the results of my project will contribute to theoretical understandings of medical anthropology and also provide practical recommendations that may be applied to address the elimination of blinding trachoma,” said Sams.


Fulbright scholarships are among the most widely recognized and prestigious academic awards in the world. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided approximately 294,000 people worldwide with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic, educational and cultural institutions; exchange ideas; and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.


The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, administered through the U.S. Department of State, awards scholarships to U.S. students selected through a national, merit-based competition for study and research abroad. Academic fields include the social sciences, humanities and the sciences. The Program emphasizes leadership development. Approximately 1,500 scholarships are awarded each year. The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program provides grants sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education to college and universities fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries, in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months.



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 224 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.


Story written by Jacqui Cash, Academic Affairs