For decades, The Fulbright Program has offered students the opportunity to research and teach a variety of new and exciting topics while fostering international diplomacy and absorbing a broad array of cultures. For many years, Berkeley students have flourished as Fulbright scholars, ultimately landing Berkeley on the list as a 2022-23 Fulbright Top Producing Institution. With 10 students and alumni receiving Fulbright Scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year, we are proud to introduce two of these brilliant students. Adan MartinezAdan Martinez is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science at Berkeley. Adan wants to utilize his Fulbright scholarship to explore the political motives behind COVID-19 policies in Brazilian municipalities. Tell us about your journey to graduate education at Berkeley. Why did you choose Berkeley? Attending UC Berkeley had always been a life goal for me. Unfortunately, and fortunately, life took me to a different undergraduate institution, but the dream of attending the top public university in the world never went away. When I decided to attend graduate school, UC Berkeley was my top choice due its reputation in producing groundbreaking research and scholars. In addition, its close proximity to many wilderness areas and local produce made living healthy and balanced lifestyle very convenient. What inspired you to choose this area of study (at Berkeley)? UC Berkeley is one of the top universities for comparative politics and benefits from having many renowned faculty members. Many of the leading scholars on Latin American politics graduated from our program and have gone on to successful careers in academic and non-academic careers. I choose to focus on comparative politics and Latin America because I believe no one country has a monopoly on good ideas and understanding how different countries approach the same problem is essential for creative problem solving. The region is a source of successful policy innovations, including conditional cash transfers, which were first pioneered in Mexico and Brazil. As someone whose parents are from Mexico and Guatemala, I do not see my research as an abstract exercise, but something that has the potential to impact and shape the lives of many people. Tell us about your path to becoming a Fulbright scholar. How did you learn about the program? What motivated you to apply? I went to a small liberal arts institution which emphasized internationalism and being a “global citizen” of the world. Unfortunately, I did not learn about the Fulbright program until after I graduated. I promised myself that I would apply when I went to graduate school after I did my research, and subsequently went down a “rabbit hole” talking to former alumni and reading about all the cool projects Fulbrighters have undertaken. In many ways, I applied to the Fulbright Program because the program shares many of my values: a natural curiosity for the world and getting to know new people and cultures. Describe your research proposal/plan for which you were awarded. What do you plan to do next? How will your research positively impact the community and beyond? My project analyzes the political motivations for the implementation, or lack thereof, of COVID-19 policies (e.g., mask mandates, social distancing, business closures, etc.) in Brazilian municipalities. The current literature focuses on two conventional explanations: political alignment and health state capacity as the reason why mayors choose to implement certain policies and not others. My research suggests that these explanations only partially explain the implementation of pandemic measures. The next stage of my research, which I will undertake thanks to Fulbright, is to interview mayors, city council members, and health secretaries to understand what conditions local leaders faced in the first few months of the pandemic. Understanding the factors of political decision-making, during a crisis, is crucial to prepare for the next pandemic or crisis, which will save lives in the long run. Luis BergLuis Berg obtained a Master’s degree from Berkeley’s College of Engineering in 2022. Luis plans on using his Fulbright scholarship to travel to Santiago, Chile and work at the National Research Center for Disaster Risk Management. Tell us about your journey to graduate education at Berkeley. Why did you choose Berkeley? I never thought I would pursue a graduate education but, through mentors I found in academia and industry, I had come to better understand its value. So, in the last year of my undergraduate degree, I applied to slew of schools. I ultimately chose Berkeley because of its world class reputation in my field, the incredible help offered by my department and through graduate diversity fellowships, and its close proximity to home. What inspired you to choose this area of study (at Berkeley)? My MS degree in Berkeley was in Structural Engineering and my research, to be more specific, is focused on natural hazards engineering. In undergrad, my choice to study Civil Engineering was driven by an interest to study problems (and solutions) that are highly technical but inherently social. So, going on in my studies, I naturally gravitated towards natural hazards engineering—where social and technical systems are inextricable—and it has been an exciting field to navigate. Tell us about your path to becoming a Fulbright scholar. How did you learn about the program? What motivated you to apply? I first learned about the Fulbright program while in my undergraduate studies at UC Davis. At that time, and since then, I knew it was something I wanted to do and, at some point, would apply to. I was motivated primarily by the want for new cultural experiences—to have the chance to see the world from a different perspective. Fulbright, then, offered the perfect opportunity to do this and so I applied and, now having won the award, I feel incredibly grateful. Describe your research proposal/plan for which you were awarded. What do you plan to do next? How will your research positively impact the community and beyond? For my research proposal, I will be working in Santiago, Chile at the National Research Center for Disaster Risk Management at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. For this project and looking forward, my hope is to be engaged in work that will promote systematic resilience against natural hazards within the context of infrastructure and international development in Latin America.