SMU students receive prestigious national fellowships and awards

SMU students have been awarded prestigious national fellowships and awards during the 2014-15 academic year, including Fulbright Grants and a fellowship to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU students have been awarded prestigious national fellowships and awards during the 2014-15 academic year, including Fulbright Grants and a fellowship to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

SMU's Office of National Fellowships helps students and faculty to apply for external, nationally competitive fellowships, scholarships and awards. Learn more at

Fulbright Scholar Whitney Goodwin

Whitney GoodwinSMU anthropology graduate student Whitney Goodwin has received a Fulbright Grant to spend 10 months conducting archaeological and ancestral community research in Honduras beginning in January 2016.

Goodwin’s research, to support her dissertation, looks at how pre-Hispanic populations in northeast Honduras adopted certain ceramic styles and foodways that “over time helped them navigate complicated political and social landscapes,” she says.

The prestigious grant allows for “the best version of my research plan,” says Goodwin, who is from Granville, Ohio. “I’m able to work with descendants of the local populations I’m studying, which will help them know more about their country’s rich cultural heritage.” The grant also allows Goodwin to invite two Honduran university students to assist with her research while also fulfilling internship requirements for their anthropology degrees.

Goodwin credits SMU’s “amazing community of scholars,” including Office of National Fellowships and Awards Director Kathleen Hugley-Cook and Spanish Language Senior Lecturer Betty Nelson in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. She says she also is grateful to have received pilot study funding from the Department of Anthropology’s Gary Weber Pre-Dissertation Award, the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man Graduate Student Research Award, and the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Student Development Grant.

Fulbright Scholar Michaela Wallerstedt

Michaela WallerstedtSMU anthropology graduate student Michaela Wallerstedt has received a Fulbright Grant to study and conduct research in Italy beginning this summer.

Wallerstedt’s research, in support of her dissertation, will examine how cultural differences between northern and southern Italy have resulted in different cesarean section birth rates. She will work primarily in Florence and Naples.

Having studied the Italian language and culture for the past decade, receiving a Fulbright Grant “is an acknowledgement of a lot of hard work and persistence,” says Wallerstedt, a native of Omaha, Neb. “It’s also nice to know my research project is valued by such a prestigious organization.”

At SMU, Wallerstedt’s focus is medical anthropology, with particular emphasis on gender and reproductive issues. She credits the University for “an unbelievable amount of support,” including from faculty members in the Department of Anthropology at Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Her adviser, Carolyn Smith-Morris, an associate professor who directs SMU’s Department of Anthropology Health & Society Program, “provided a foundation of support every step of the way,” Wallerstedt says.

“Michaela’s research addresses a costly medical issue that has deep roots in the cultures and economies of Italy,” says Smith-Morris. “It’s taken her several years of work, here and in Italy, to develop the skills and professional and local networks she needed in Italy to address such a private topic as childbirth. We’re very pleased she will be starting her research soon and will have the Fulbright community to support her.”

Wallerstedt holds a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford and a master’s degree in medical anthropology from SMU.

Fulbright Scholar Elizabeth Pittman

Elizabeth Pittman

Elizabeth Pittman, a graduate student in the Accelerated School Leadership Program at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, has received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching to conduct research in New Zealand. She is one of 49 U.S. citizens to receive the 2015-16 award in teaching for their academic and professional achievement and leadership potential.

Pittman, who is earning a master’s degree in educational leadership, is a chemistry teacher at H. Grady Spruce High School in Dallas, where she also serves as chair of the science department. As part of the Fulbright program, she will study the field of restorative practices, which emphasizes relationship-building and conflict resolution over discipline and punishment. She plans to examine whether these practices decrease the number of discipline incidents for at-risk students in secondary schools.

“I became interested in restorative practices in education after hearing an NPR story about a school in Denver that was experiencing significant improvements through the implementation of restorative practices,” says Pittman, a native of Durham, North Carolina. “I then began to research this field on my own, and my desire to see these systems in practice grew stronger.”

Pittman says her professors and coursework at the Simmons School have helped her achieve her goal of becoming a Fulbright Scholar. “My courses on educational leadership and policy broadened my perspective on the field of education as a whole,” she says. “My coursework helped prepare me with the research, writing and argument skills necessary to develop a quality research proposal.”  

Through her research, she hopes to better understand how to successfully implement restorative practices in low-income secondary schools. “I am excited to learn from educational leaders in New Zealand and bring that learning back to Dallas,” she says. 

Fulbright Scholar Kandi Doming

Kandi Doming

Kandi Doming ’14 has been awarded a Fulbright Grant to study archaeology in the Netherlands.

Doming earned bachelor’s degrees in art history from Meadows School of the Arts and anthropology from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. A native of Simi Valley, Calif., she will be studying Mediterranean archaeology at VU University in Amsterdam.

“It’s such an honor to be selected for this award,” Doming says. “I studied abroad in Italy in 2013, where I got to excavate at an Etruscan temple site. Since then, it was really a dream of mine to study archaeology in the ancient Mediterranean world.”

Doming thanks her professors for their interest in her research and encouragement, as well as SMU’s Office of National Fellowships for its support in the Fulbright application process.

“Being at SMU really provided so many opportunities to explore different avenues, but my professors and advisers were the most helpful,” she says. “The opportunity to study and live in such a diverse city as Amsterdam and collaborate on an international level with other archaeologists is an amazing opportunity.”

Institute for Responsible Citizenship Scholar

Garrett Fisher

Garrett Fisher

SMU junior Garrett C. Fisher has been named a Scholar to the Institute for Responsible Citizenship in Washington, D.C. 

Fisher is a President’s Scholar pursuing bachelor’s degrees in business administration in the Cox School of Business and public policy in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He is one of 11 students from across the country selected to be a Scholar at the Institute, which provides an intensive leadership development program for African-American men focused on citizenship and service.

“I am thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to represent SMU in Washington, D.C.,” Fisher says. “I plan to use this summer to give back to my community by combining the skills I will develop in the Institute with what I have already learned as a part of my SMU education. “

An Irving, Texas, native, Fisher is the 2015-16 African-American Senator, Student Programming Co-Chair for the Crain Leadership Conference and Advisory Council member for the University Honors Program. Fisher is also a peer counselor in the Cox School of Business for the Mustang Bridge Program, where he advises and mentors 15 pre-business students.

Fisher served as a student assistant in the Office for Student Affairs. He has volunteered with local political campaigns and had an internship with a Dallas County court judge.

Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Presidential Fellow

Tracy Nelson

Tracy NelsonSMU junior Tracy Nelson has been named a Presidential Fellow to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, D.C.

Nelson, a President’s Scholar, is majoring in political science, public policy and economics with a minor in international studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

“I’m looking forward to engaging in discussion with students and thought leaders from all over the country,” Nelson says. “This fellowship is a great opportunity to expand on the important policy discussions that are already occurring on SMU's campus.”

The center, a non-partisan organization dedicated to the study of the American Presidency and Congress, selects up to 75 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country for its year-long Presidential Fellows program. Fellows travel to Washington twice during the year to attend policy workshops and discuss national issues with scholars, senior government officials and leaders from business, media, public policy and the military. Fellows present original research papers and are eligible for awards and publication in the center’s journal.

A Winter Park, Florida native, Nelson is a Tower Center Undergraduate Research Fellow and was named Student Member of the Year by the Student Senate Finance Committee. She also is a member of the University Honors Program, the Belle Tones and Delta Gamma. She has interned with the George W. Bush Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and U.S. Rep. John Mica of Florida.

National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Nicole Hartman

NICOLE MICHELLE HARTMANSMU senior Nicole Hartman will spend her summer researching theoretical condensed-matter physics through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

A President’s Scholar and member of the University Honors Program, Hartman majors in physics and mathematics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and electrical engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering.

As a Hamilton Undergraduate Research Scholar, the senior from Lewisville, Texas, has conducted research in particle physics with her faculty mentor, assistant professor Stephen Sekula. In 2014, Hartman’s work on the decay of Z bosons and the insights they may offer into the Higgs boson took her to the site of the Higgs’ discovery – CERN in Geneva – as an undergraduate researcher with a Columbia University program. Her summer in Switzerland was her first with the National Science Foundation’s REU program.

For her second REU experience, Hartman has chosen to explore condensed-matter physics – the study of the properties of materials and the theoretical models that help scientists understand their physical behaviors. She will spend the summer working with the University of California-Davis Condensed Matter Theory Group, creating simulations to explore the properties of electrons and how those properties can be affected by changes in density, temperature and strength of interactions.

The REU program provide stipends and, frequently, housing and travel assistance for undergraduate students conducting research in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. An REU Site consists of a group of about 10 undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he or she works closely with the faculty and other researchers.

“What’s so valuable about REU is that you live the life of a researcher,” Hartman says. “It becomes your No. 1 focus, and this experience is really good preparation for graduate school and beyond.”

She credits her SMU professors with inspiring her to work toward a career in academia. “Becoming a physics professor is my dream job now,” she says.