UIC student wins Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant

Rebecca Clendenen
Rebecca Clendenen

Rebecca Clendenen, a PhD candidate in the UIC Department of Political Science, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant.

The DDRA program provides grants to colleges and universities to fund doctoral students conducting research in countries outside western Europe in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months. Graduate students must apply to the grant through their institution.

Clendenen’s research focuses on urban politics between groups in Istanbul with competing visions for the Turkish nation. The DDRA grant will fund her trip to Istanbul, where she will spend six months “conducting interviews in Turkish with civil society organizations and local government agents about the city, the nation, and how they relate,” Clendenen explains. 

Clendenen’s experience is an example of the importance of applying for external funding opportunities, especially for graduate students who need to conduct research abroad. There are many financial barriers for graduate students who need to travel abroad for language programs and/or to conduct research. Clendenen notes that she “would not be able to do this work without the grant.”

This research support from the Department of Education will propel Clendenen closer to her larger goal of securing an academic position, where she can continue to “train students to think critically, deliberate with kindness and understand their own power,” she said.

A Fulbright-Hays grant also offers access to an invaluable community of academic support that will help her as she moves forward in her academic career.

“Ultimately,” Clendenen said, “this fellowship gives me more opportunity to demonstrate my value to academic research.”

Clendenen stressed the importance of starting early when applying for funding opportunities. Not only do graduate students need to familiarize themselves with the funding opportunities available to them at the different stages of their studies, but they must also give themselves adequate time to prepare their application materials. Clendenen worked closely with Benn Williams, the Graduate College’s fellowships and awards coordinator, to further improve her application.

“I really can’t sufficiently express my gratitude for all of that support,” she said.


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