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Meet our latest Fulbright and Goldwater recipients



The U.S. Department of State sponsors the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which gives scholars the chance to research, teach and study in countries around the globe.

headshot of a brown skinned woman with wavy black hairYasaswini Iyer (CWR ’22; GRS ’22, public health)

The last time Yasaswini Iyer performed Bharatanatyam—considered the oldest classical dance in India—she had an environmental epiphany. She’d danced onplenty of U.S. stages, but during a 2019 performance in Chennai, India, found it difficult to breathe.“I realized the only thing different was the environment,” Iyer said.

She later took a Case Western Reserve graduate course on the impact of climate change on health and also witnessed COVID-19’s “disproportionate effect” on different socioeconomic classes. The twin experiences propelled Iyer to study the environment’s impact on heart health. 

Iyer—who earned her undergraduate degree in chemical biology—is now in New Delhi working with the Public Health Foundation of India and a local research institute to survey residents about air quality. She’s excited about the research and investigating “the interplay between culture and medicine.”

thin woman on a stone bench

Photo by Faith Sanchez

Emily Belina (CWR ’22)

As a teenager, Emily Belina began working in a series of medical labs focused on areas including cardiology, osteoporosis and retinal regeneration.

This past fall, Belina—who earned degrees in art history and biology, and minored in chemistry—took her research skills to an ophthalmology lab at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz in Germany. She’s focusing on the function of cilia (microscopic hair-like structures) in the pigmented layer of the retina to better understand the factors the contribute to vision loss. That work builds on her retinal research experience at a Cleveland Clinic lab.

Belina aims to become an ophthalmologist and hopes the international experience will allow her to compare how different cultures respond to medical conditions, and, in the long run, make her a more understanding practitioner.

“How do blind people in Germany fit into society?” she asked. “And how is it different from the U.S.?”


white young man stands in a fieldKyle Barclay (CWR ’21)

Ever since Kyle Barclay began studying Mandarin as a teenager, he imagined one day speaking the language abroad. 

By the time he arrived at Case Western Reserve, he’d taken Chinese for six years, decided to be a physician and knew he wanted to structure his education around both interests.

After majoring in chemical biology, he’s now in Hualien, Taiwan, for a year, working alongside a local teacher with elementary and middle school children as part of the Fulbright’s English Teacher Assistant Program.

Barclay aims to return to his hometown of Rockville, Maryland, to practice medicine and use his bilingual skills.

“I think it’s important to have the experience of living somewhere else,” he said. “Doctors should be teachers, and it’s important for a doctor to be open-minded and to be able to relate to a variety of experiences.”


white woman with blond hair

Photo by Stella Favaro

Veronica Madell (CWR ’22)

Veronica Madell changed direction twice at the College of Arts and Sciences in ways that still resonate. First, she shifted from majoring in biology to studying English and education. Then, after the pandemic hit, she shifted gears again.

During her junior year, she moved to Prescott, Arizona, where a company called A Place Beyond rented a summer camp to give students an in-person community while they remotely took their college classes. The experience fueled Madell’s interest in going abroad.

“It showed me,” she said, “how much you can learn from your peers and how life is more flexible than the plans we create in our heads.”

She’s now teaching as an English assistant in Chacheonegsao, Thailand—and hoping she’ll find inspiration for a young adult novel she’s kicked around for years.“I want to … see if I can write a book I can finish and get published,” Madell said.



The Barry Goldwater Scholarship program provides financial support for school and academic cachet to students with the potential to become the nation’s next generation of research leaders in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.

a headshotVictor Sanchez-Franco

Major: psychology

Anticipated Graduation: Spring 2023

Victor Sanchez-Franco was a high school student living in Puerto Rico and determined to study neuroscience at a university in the continental United States when he first heard of Case Western Reserve. 

After arriving on campus, he landed in the neurosciences lab of School of Medicine Assistant Professor Masashi Tabuchi, PhD, where he has worked since his first year. He uses fruit flies to study, among other things, the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep patterns. 

The experience in Tabuchi’s lab has made Sanchez-Franco eager to pursue a PhD and become a research scientist. 

When he learned he had received a Goldwater award, he ran out of the lab ecstatic.“I called my parents with the news, and I started crying and crying and crying,” he said. “Seeing that my hard work has paid off is really rewarding.”



Mitchell Valentine

Majors: biochemistry, psychology

Anticipated Graduation: Spring 2023

white boy at laptop

Mitchell Valentine’s life was forever altered in second grade when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though radiation therapy cleared her of the disease three years later, the desire to eradicate breast cancer stayed with her son.

As a first-year student on campus, Valentine joined a biomedical engineering lab on campus and later the lab of School of Medicine Professor Ruth Keri, PhD, where he’s helped research a particular protein’s impact on breast cancer treatment. Valentine believes the Goldwater award—and advice from past winners—will help him reach his goal of earning an MD and PhD in cancer biology. 

His mother helps keep Valentine grounded and focused on the larger picture. “The purpose is not just to conduct research,” he said. “The goal is to actually help people.”

Page last modified: March 16, 2023