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Three UB Students Win Prestigious Fulbright Awards

Release Date: May 21, 2012

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Grace Mukupa will use the Fulbright award to explore the effect of food incentives as strategy for attracting and retaining young students in educational institutions of the Khatlon Province in Tajikistan.

UB student Thawab Shibly is the recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to sponsor her for 20 hours a week of teaching in Jordan.

UB student Karl Barber will use the Fulbright grant to study neuroscience at McGill University.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Three University at Buffalo students have received prestigious Fulbright Fellowships, the most recent class in what has become a UB tradition of multiple winners in the highly competitive, nationally-recognized scholarly competition.

The three winners, two seniors graduating this month and a graduate student, are:

-- Thawab Shibly, who has been known as a vocal and eloquent spokesperson for the rights of Palestinian refugees, graduates with a double major in political science and English, and a minor in art. She was recently chosen for the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence.

Shibly is president of the campus Community Action Corps, has led a bi-weekly discussion group for the Muslim Student Association and is a volunteer mentor at the Priscilla Project.

Born in Damascus and raised in Buffalo, Shibly is the recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to sponsor her for 20 hours a week of teaching in Jordan. She will also continue her oral history research of refugees living in Jordan.

A University Advanced Honors College scholar, she has been on the dean's list for five semesters. Shibly is also the recipient of the J. Scott Fleming Scholarship for Leadership and Excellence, and has volunteered in the New Orleans recovery effort.

-- Karl Barber, an Albany native, is a senior majoring in chemical engineering and French. Barber is a Presidential Scholar at UB and chairman for the Society for Biological Engineers for UB's chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

Barber has performed research in protein engineering since 2010 and is currently investigating the development of temperature sensitivity in a split mini intein. Last summer he pursued an internship in neurobiology at University Laval in Quebec City making use of a light-sensitive protein to study interneurons in the hippocampus of mice.

In 2011 Barber received the AIChE Outstanding Junior Award for the Western New York chapter. He also enjoys studying French Canadian linguistics and culture.

Barber will use the Fulbright grant to study the molecular basis of the death of mutant photoreceptors in neurons at McGill University in Montreal. This will have important implications in the study of inherited diseases related to retinal degeneration. Barber also plans to volunteer at a mental hospital, to emphasize the human aspect of neuroscience.

Barber is a member of the Honors College at UB. He will study for his doctorate in molecular biology at Yale University after his Fulbright award in the fall of 2013.

-- Grace Mukupa, a graduate student pursing a PhD in global gender studies, will use the Fulbright award to explore the effect of food incentives as strategy for attracting and retaining young students in educational institutions of the Khatlon Province in Tajikistan. The project will target 81 elementary schools and 17 high schools. This region endured brutalities of civil war and presently has high levels of disparity between boys' and girls' education.

Mukupa currently serves as president of UB's Graduate Student Association as well as advising three undergraduate organizations -- the African Student Association, Pi Delta Psi fraternity and the UB Gospel Choir.

She is a native of Zambia who grew up in Tokyo. Mukupa integrates discussion on gender and disparities in Southern Africa into her teaching of the undergraduate course "Gender in Africa and Gender and Traditional Laws in Africa."

Since 2010, Mukupa has been serving as representative to the United Nations to the Economic and Social Council through Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Inc. She is also a member of American Association of University Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA), and Society for AIDS in Africa and Affirmative Action on Gender Equality (AGEN).

In December she received a scholarship to present at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The three Fulbright Scholarships, among the most prestigious academic awards in the country, are major accomplishments for the students, both in personal stature and the opportunity it gives them to continue their scholarly work, according to Kenneth Shockley, UB's Fulbright Program Adviser and associate professor of philosophy.

The steady stream of Fulbright awards -- UB is now accustomed to having multiple winners each year -- also is a statement about the quality of the university, he said.

"UB should be very proud of these grantees, as we should be of all those students awarded fellowships of such prestige, and subject to such competition," Shockley says. "They demonstrate the caliber of our student body and the capacity of UB students to compete successfully against the best and the brightest of the most elite universities in the U.S."

Students interested in the Fulbright program are encouraged to contact Prof. Shockley, and read about the program at http://www.fulbright.buffalo.edu.

Media Contact Information

Charles Anzalone
Senior Editor, Law, Social Work and Education
Tel: 716-645-4600
anzalon@buffalo.edu