Published: June 16, 2022

Nine CU Boulder students and alumni have been named Fulbright finalists for the 2022–23 academic year by the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. One student declined the scholarship, and another five students were named alternates. 

CU Boulder students and alumni Michael Bunch, Nina Campano, Nicholas Dragone, Ben Friedman, Zeena Nisar, Kelly Riordan, Angela Theodosopoulos and Lydia Wagenknecht accepted the prestigious scholarship. The finalists will study, conduct research or teach abroad in the following countries: Bunch, Germany; Campano, Australia; Dragone, New Zealand; Friedman, Germany; Nisar, Belgium; Riordan, Austria; Theodosopoulos, Sweden; Wagenknecht, Chile.

CU's five alternates and their places of study are: Sadie Ghiasy, English teaching assistant, Tajikistan; Mohammad Habib, research, Canada; Anika Ralston, English teaching assistant, Thailand; Johnathan Stauffer, research, Norway; Caroline Wigul, study, United Kingdom.

"I’m delighted to see so many CU students selected as Fulbright finalists this year," said Deborah Viles, director of the Office of Top Scholarships at CU Boulder. "These students and alumni are poised to contribute significantly to the Fulbright mission of citizen diplomacy while carrying out relevant and timely research, creative work and teaching assignments. Congratulations to all!"

The Fulbright is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and has given more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Award recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, and their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields. 

The Fulbright 2023–24 application is now open. Interested students should contact Deborah Viles at for information and assistance with the application. The campus deadline to apply is Aug. 29, 2022.

Michael Bunch

At CU, Bunch focused on the major historiographical questions concerning modern European and German history. His completed portfolio consisted of six historiographical essays, three book reviews, one 45-page research paper and two syllabi. The portfolio represents a portion of the work completed at CU over the past three years.

Using visual methods, his Fulbright research project in Germany will investigate the origins of Germany’s current immigration regime by focusing on the years following World War II when Germans living in the Allied occupation zones confronted the mass resettlement of 12 million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe.

Nina Campano

Campano graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2017 and received her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at CU Boulder in 2020. While studying at CU, she also worked as an optical systems engineer. She has systems engineering and program management experience on a variety of optical sensing systems. 

With her Fulbright grant, she will travel to Brisbane, Australia, to do research at the Queensland University of Technology International Laboratory for Air Quality & Health, one of the leading labs in the world in low-cost air quality sensing technology. Her project is a low-cost indoor air quality sensor system, and she will study under the supervision of Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska, who was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2021. 

In her spare time, Campano reads, rock climbs and volunteers for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund as an advisory council member and speaker.

Nicholas Dragone

Dragone is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU Boulder where he studies the microorganisms that live in sediments and soils. During his Fulbright year, he will be working with researchers at the University of Canterbury to study New Zealand’s volcanic environments and to search for organisms whose activity may be relevant to bioremediation processes.

Ben Friedman

Friedman graduated from CU Boulder in May 2021 with a double major in German studies and international affairs. While attending CU he interned as an assistant German teacher at the high school level and at a German-American think tank in Washington, D.C. Since then he has been ski instructing and enjoying the mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In Germany, he will be an English teaching assistant. He is looking forward to creating cross-cultural exchange with German students. Outside of the classroom Friedman hopes to engage in outdoor pursuits in and around Germany.

Zeena Nisar

Nisar graduated from CU Boulder in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Since graduating, Nisar has pursued her interests at the nexus of science and policy as a U.S. Fulbright student in Kyrgyzstan and Schwarzman Scholar in China. Nisar is currently a Schwarzman Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., where she is pursuing policy research on emerging biotechnology and biosecurity.

With this Fulbright research grant to Brussels, Nisar plans to learn more about EU policy making by examining the EU's potential role in regulating cross-border genomic data sharing.

Kelly Riordan

Riordan, mezzo-soprano, has been praised for her “exuberant honesty” onstage as well as her “beautiful vibrancy and warmth” of tone. During her master’s degree at CU Boulder (Class of 2021), Riordan performed the roles of Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro) and numerous others. Riordan also researched the power of the singer’s breath and body, ultimately completing her vocal pedagogy thesis on “Singing to Heal: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection to Encourage Mental-Wellness in Singers." 

Since graduating, Riordan has joined the Contemporary Alexander Technique school where she is training to teach the work. She also has been awarded second place in the 2022 Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition.

In Austria, Riordan will study with Exilarte: Center for Banned Music and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna under the Fulbright fellowship. She will study and perform the previously banned compositions of Jewish composer Robert Fürstenthal, who was forced to flee Europe when the Nazi regime came to power.

Angela Theodosopoulos

Theodosopoulos will be graduating with a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from CU Boulder this summer. For her dissertation, she has studied avian malaria parasites in populations of two local songbirds, the black-capped (Poecile atricapillus) and mountain (P. gambeli) chickadee.

As a Fulbrighter, she will be conducting research at Lund University in Sweden, where she will expand on her recent discovery (highlighted in Audubon) that the highly invasive SGS1 strain of the avian malaria parasite, Plasmodium relictum, is infecting Boulder chickadees and was likely introduced from Europe. She will use genomic tools that have been developed by researchers at Lund University to investigate from where in Europe SGS1 was introduced to Colorado, how SGS1 may be adapting to this new geographic region with novel hosts, and whether this is the same introduction event that has led to its recent presence in other North American locations. 

Lydia Wagenknecht

Wagenknecht is a third-year doctoral student in ethnomusicology. Her research interests include music and activism, ecotourism and climate change in Chile. At CU Boulder, Wagenknecht is a 2021–22 Engaged Arts and Humanities Scholar, and she serves as president of the Graduate Musicology Society. She is also a research assistant at the American Music Research Center.

As a U.S. Fulbright student, she plans to begin dissertation research in Punta Arenas, Chile, where she will work with local musicians and arts stakeholders to explore how climate change and Antarctic research have shaped musical negotiations of identity.