An Out-of-This-World Experience

Francesca Cary, 2020 Fulbright Future Scholar, Funded by the Kinghorn Foundation, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

The cultural exchange experience that is integral to having a Fulbright scholarship has expanded my perspective on the world.

Through living in another country long enough to understand it and the people that have lived here, I have gained another point of view, getting to see the world from another culture’s eyes; and see what has been shared and what has been different between our two countries. This has impacted me personally as I have an increased sense of importance about unity between countries to face the societal and environmental problems that we both share.

The major academic impact having the Fulbright scholarship has had on my academic research experience was the freedom to pursue out-of the box ideas. Not being financially ‘tied’ to an advisor and their work, I had room to pursue topics other researchers in the field were not able to / that were outside the scope of the research grants presently awarded.

I was able to initiate novel research ideas that were different from the current approaches in my field, and was given permission to play with fire a bit! Which is something that is otherwise difficult within a system where research that builds upon existing work gets funded over innovative but nascent projects.

As a highly motivated and creative person, having a Fulbright scholarship enabled me to develop my own project. I also had the space to develop some of my more provocative ideas into constructive conceptual frameworks that could influence the way we search for life – something that takes an amount of time and freedom to develop that isn’t always available to graduate students.

I felt I was able to reach my full potential as a result of Fulbright’s support, and initiate a new research direction for Mars astrobiology, that definitely would not have been possible otherwise.