Award Recipients 2012
Allison Murawski ’12 and Julie King ’12 earn Fulbright Scholarships
by Matt Getty
May 11, 2012
Two graduating seniors have earned Fulbright scholarships that will take them to Germany this fall. As a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen in Munich, Allison Murawski ’12 will study micro-ribonucleic acid (miRNA) to potentially help develop new methods of fighting cardiovascular disease. Julie King ’12 will teach English to German elementary or high-school students through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
For Murawski, the experience will build on research opportunities she’s had as a double major in biology and biochemistry & molecular biology. In addition to working with Associate Professor of Biology David Kushner on mapping the structure of RNA in the turnip crinkle virus to determine what makes the virus infectious, she spent a summer at the University of Tennessee probing the miRNAs of plants to determine how they respond to low levels of oxygen.
“Not many undergraduates get to have those kinds of research opportunities,” says Murawski, a Turnersville, N.J., resident who also ran on the track and field team, minored in German and studied abroad in England. “It really helped me to think for myself in the lab because we were asking questions that didn’t have definite answers.”
The research experiences also helped open the door to applying for the Fulbright. At first, Murawski admits, she was intimidated by the process, but working closely with faculty encouraged her.
“Professor Kushner really pushed me to apply, and because he had confidence in me, that gave me the motivation to do it,” she says, noting that those close student-faculty relationships also paid off when it was time to collect letters of recommendation for her application. “Really getting to know my professors gave me an advantage. Because I worked in the lab with them, they got to know me as an individual, which is important.”
King took the first steps toward her Fulbright during her year in Bremen through the Dickinson in Germany program. “I just loved it there and knew I wanted more,” she explains, noting that spending entire days communicating solely in German greatly increased her fluency. “At the beginning I’d be sitting in a political-science class taught entirely in German and feel like, ‘What is happening?’ But by the end of the year, I could write a 20-page paper in German with no problem.”
Like Murawski, King credits faculty with helping her through the arduous Fulbright application process. She worked closely with Associate Professor of History Jeremy Ball and Associate Professor of Physics Lars English, the college’s Fulbright advisors, to perfect her personal statement and statement of grant purpose.
“It takes a lot of editing to get your application ready,” she says. “But Dickinson really helps groom you.”
Both King and Murawski plan to use their Fulbright experiences to refine their future plans. King hopes to find out if she has a long-term interest in teaching and is considering pursuing graduate school in Germany when her Fulbright ends next summer. Murawski, who originally planned to go to medical school after Dickinson, has begun to consider incorporating research into her future beyond the Fulbright.
“I’ve given some thought to M.D.-Ph.D. programs, which enable you to combine research and medical school,” she says. “It’s a ton of schooling, but if it’s what you love to do, it’s worth the time.”