Engineering’s Henke earns Fulbright Scholarship

The prestigious award offers young scholars the opportunity to teach, study and pursue research internationally.

Twenty-five recent Brown alumni and three current graduate students have received Fulbright awards for the 2022-23 academic year to conduct independently designed research projects or teach English in locations across the globe, including engineering’s Julia Henke ’22.

Julia HenkeHenke expects to teach English in Nepal next spring. Unlike previous engineering awardees who did research in their fields, Henke’s desire to explore and learn as a teacher was jump started when she served as a mentor in the Brown Design Workshop during her sophomore year. She believes this experience teaching in more rural settings will give intention to her desire to be a people leader in a future career in the medical device industry. “Teaching in Nepal would allow me to better understand, communicate with, and mentor a diverse group of people,” she said. 

She earned her biomedical engineering degree last month, completing both a senior thesis and capstone project, both having to do with the science behind hand, and finger, prosthetics. “It is my goal to one day design and implement prosthetics that can be used in rural areas around the world, to be both cheap yet durable, practical yet dignified,” she said. “And this passion itself is dual in that I weave it together with my passion to teach.”

Henke said Nepal entered the equation for her four years ago when she attended the World Affairs Seminar, a week-long community service-based camp hosting high-school-age students from all over the world to discuss one global issue. Although the camp was held in Wisconsin, it was there she became friends with a large contingent of students from Nepal. “All the Nepali students were so full of life, and culture, and experiences that were so different than mine. They danced to music I had never heard and taught me games I had never seen. As I was trying to figure out who I was at this camp, my Nepali friends already knew: they were Nepali, and that is joy.”

In her time at Brown, Henke served as ENGN 0030 peer mentor, received an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award for summer research in Professor Joseph Crisco’s lab, and was a teaching assistant in the Brown course Artificial Intelligence in Biomedicine. She is a member of the engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi.

Brown has ranked as one of the top two student Fulbright producers in the nation for the past six years, earning the highest spot on the list in 2021, 2018, 2017 and 2016, and the No. 2 rank in 2019 and 2020. The U.S. Department of State, which oversees the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, will release data for the 2022-23 award cycle next spring.

The School of Engineering at Brown has produced five Fulbright winners in the past six years, including Leanne Block ’17 (France), Isabelle Bauman ’19 (Denmark), Hope McGovern ’19 (Austria) and Kit Sum Wu ’19 (Japan). 

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright program promotes international peace through intellectual and cultural exchange. Applicants are selected based upon their academic and professional records, the quality and achievability of their proposals, and their capacity to engage culturally with their host communities.

“We are extremely proud of our Fulbright winners and all those who applied for the Fulbright this year,” said Linda Dunleavy, Brown’s associate dean of the College for fellowships. “The University's Fulbright program harnesses the innovation, global consciousness and commitment to impactful practice that Brown’s unique curriculum cultivates.”