GW Faculty Collect Fulbright Honors

Carla Berg, Sarah Calabrese, Keryn Gedan and Aman Luthra are among newest class of prestigious scholars.

Fulbright winners
From left, Carla Berg, Sarah Calabrese, Aman Luthra and Keryn Gedan were among the 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholars.
June 06, 2022

Four George Washington University faculty members were named to the 2022-2023 class of Fulbright Scholars, joining a prestigious list of academics who will conduct research and teach abroad.

Carla J. Berg, professor and associate chair for research in prevention and community health at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to advance cancer prevention efforts in Armenia.

Three members of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences faculty received Fulbright honors. Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology Sarah Calabrese will travel to Australia to collaborate on a project with healthcare providers and sexual minority men with HIV. Assistant Professor of Biology Keryn Gedan will examine the effects of climate change on coastal plant communities in Argentina. And Assistant Professor of Geography Aman Luthra will investigate startup companies offering recycling services in urban India.

“This year’s slate of Fulbright Scholars serves as an excellent representation of the high-quality, cutting-edge research happening at GW across schools and disciplines,” said GW Provost Christopher Alan Bracey. “Faculty research and scholarship advances GW’s mission and campaigning reputation as a research institution that aims to improve society through scholarship, and we proudly celebrate the four members of our faculty members who received this prestigious honor.”

For over 75 years, the Fulbright program has provided more than 400,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to challenges around the globe. This year’s class of 800 U.S. scholars, artists and professionals join a roster of Fulbright alumni that includes 61 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 40 people who have served as heads of state or government.

Berg’s research targets Armenia’s soaring cancer rates, specifically through advancing cancer prevention and control. Nearly 30% of adults in Armenia smoke, leading the nation to have the second highest rate of cancer-related deaths globally and the eighth highest lung cancer death rate. But, Berg explained, Armenia’s national health system has insufficient capacity to address the cancer crisis.

Building on her 2013 Fulbright work in Georgia, Berg will collaborate with Armenian colleagues on cancer prevention strategies related to tobacco control and mentor students in conducting related research.

“It is truly an honor to receive support from Fulbright to bolster our program of work in this region with prominent national organizations and academic institutions,” she said. “This marks a critical period for embracing opportunities to enhance global public health efforts, particularly in this region given the sociopolitical challenges that have historically and ongoingly impacted quality of life.”

Calabrese will partner with HIV experts and stigma interventionists in Australia to address the nation’s HIV crisis among marginalized communities. As in many Western countries, Australia’s sexual minority men bear the brunt of the HIV pandemic, accounting for 69% of new diagnoses despite representing less than 5% of the population. Calabrese’s research will aid the development of a web-based intervention aimed at enhancing healthcare providers’ communication with patients, correcting outdated misconceptions about transmission risk and reducing stigma.

“I am excited and grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Australian experts on this joint initiative,” Calabrese said. “Ultimately, the Fulbright award will facilitate ongoing international research collaboration and the sharing of insights and resources to improve the lives of people with or at risk for HIV in Australia, the U.S. and other regions of the world.”

In Argentina, Gedan will track the ecological effects of sea level rise in plant communities along the coastal zone of Buenos Aires, which sits on one of the largest estuaries in South America. Her work will include testing how trees respond to the influence of intruding salty groundwater. Gedan’s previous research focused on the impact of climate change on the tidal wetlands and coastal uplands of the Chesapeake Bay.

“The Fulbright scholarship will enable me to expand my scientific study of sea level rise to a different continent, climate, topography and group of plants,” she said. “I am so excited to meet new colleagues and collaborators among the Argentine community of ecologists.”

Luthra will travel to India to study what he calls  the “uberization of recycling”—focusing on how new high-tech recycling firms are competing against the industry’s self-employed workers, called “kabariwalas.” Traditionally, the kabariwalas buy recyclable, reusable and repairable materials directly from households, Luthra explained. The new firms offer the same service, but have access to tools like mobile apps. Luthra, who was born and raised in Delhi, will investigate the new firms’ strategies and how the kabariwalas are responding to the competition.

“This award will afford me the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in Delhi, something I have been unable to do for the past two years since the pandemic began,” Luthra said. “It will also allow me to build a network of researchers in Delhi, a city whose future I have both a personal and academic interest in.”

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