This year’s British Fulbrighters are tackling issues from preventing domestic violence to how to use 3D printing to make ear and nose cartilage

Close to 50 postgraduate students and scholars from the UK have set off to the US through one of the most prestigious scholarship programmes in the world.

UK students and academics are arriving in the United States to begin their postgraduate degrees and research projects, having received awards through the Fulbright Programme. Based at institutions across the US – from Oklahoma to Alaska and northern California to upstate New York – grantees will take advantage of the diversity of American higher education institutions while undertaking an equally varied range of research projects. This year’s grantees include:

  • Surgeon Michelle Griffin, who will be undertaking research at Stanford University into 3D-printed facial implants. It was during her medical training that Michelle visited South Africa and witnessed severe facial defects in newborn babies, instilling in her a passion for developing solutions to an issue affecting almost 7000 newborns across the world each year. During her Fulbright, Michelle will be working with a team at Stanford on a project that aims to bioengineer cartilage using stem cells and 3D-printed facial implants. This method could ultimately be used to make engineered ear and nose cartilage for treating birth defects and could be used to help children with malformed or missing ears or noses.
  • Louise Ashwell will be heading to the University of Michigan to pursue her Master’s in Social Work and focus on how the power of community groups can help prevent domestic violence. The #MeToo movement has raised public awareness of assault; Louise’s work emphasises the urgent need to translate that awareness into action. In particular, she is looking at how neighbourhood networks can effectively confront the attitudes that give rise to this kind of abuse. Louise hopes to develop a model which is scalable, financially sustainable and which can deliver a coherent violence prevention programme through social enterprises across the UK.
  • Biyi Bandele will spend the year at New York University’s Film School, examining the teaching of film craft. Biyi, who came to the UK almost 30 years ago, was first exposed to cinema through screenings of Bruce Lee films and Bollywood movies in an old warehouse in his hometown in northern Nigeria. In the intervening years, Biyi’s work as a writer and filmmaker has highlighted the importance of storytelling from diverse perspectives and of representation – particularly to the African diaspora. He intends to use the NYU model as the basis for the course content of a film school he plans to found for young, aspiring filmmakers from inner city backgrounds in the UK. He also hopes to work with schools and universities in Nigeria – where formal film education is rare, in spite of the growth and success of the Nollywood film industry – to develop a similar project there, to inspire and develop children from backgrounds similar to his own.

As part of the global Fulbright Programme, the US-UK Fulbright Commission works to further intercultural understanding between the USA and the UK through educational exchange. The Fulbright Awards programme provides scholarships to support academic study, research and teaching in any subject at any accredited US higher education institution, at postgraduate level and above. Chosen on the basis of academic excellence, ambassadorial qualities, and demonstrated leadership or impact, successful grantees receive significant funding and join a global community of alumni which includes Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners.

New this year, the Fulbright Commission has introduced the Fulbright Opportunity Fund, designed to provide financial support for students who are selected to receive a Fulbright Award, but who cannot afford to fully meet the costs of US study after exploring all options to find funding. This move forms part of Fulbright’s ongoing commitment to increasing participation of under-represented groups and continuing fair access to the Awards programme.

Maria Balinska, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:

“These 47 students and scholars represent a rich diversity of British perspectives and will be engaging in an exciting range of academic projects across the US. From exploring how social enterprise can prevent domestic abuse to using 3D printing to tackle facial deformities, they exemplify the avenues of hope, to paraphrase Senator J. William Fulbright, that this unique education exchange makes possible.”

Meet this year's Fulbrighters.


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Kirsty Callaghan, Communications Manager, on 020 7498 4020,  

  • The US-UK Fulbright Commission fosters intercultural understanding between the USA and the UK through educational exchange.
  • Since the Commission was founded by diplomatic treaty in 1948, it has enabled more than 23,000 British and American citizens to study, research or teach at universities on either side of the Atlantic – developing relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • In the 21st century, Fulbrighters work to address major global challenges, from energy sustainability and economic development to public health and food security. As part of the EducationUSA network, the Commission also offers British students free, accurate, and comprehensive information about opportunities to study at accredited universities in the USA, as well as delivering the Sutton Trust US Programme for low-income UK students to explore US higher education.