UC San Diego News Center


Boren and Fulbright Awards Support Graduate Student Research Abroad

Thirteen UC San Diego students will take off for research projects around the world this fall with funding from the Boren Awards for International Study and Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The merit-based federal programs each support study and research abroad to foster global understanding and partnerships among U.S. citizens. Boren Fellowships for 2014-2015 were awarded to four graduate students at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, while the Fulbright program selected seven graduate students, one undergraduate and one recent graduate from UC San Diego for its 2014-2015 cohort.

“Educating students to be scholars and leaders in our global society is central to our mission at UC San Diego,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are proud to have several students representing our campus overseas through the Boren and Fulbright programs.”

Funded by the National Security Education Program, Boren Fellowships support study and research in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The program provides fellows with up to $30,000 for research and language studies abroad. In exchange for funding, recipients commit to at least one year of service in the federal government.

Kent Boydston

Kent Boydston received a Boren Fellowship for research in South Korea.

Fellowship recipient Kent Boydston, a graduate student at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), will travel to South Korea for an intensive, nine-month Korean language program at Yonsei University in Seoul. His accompanying research project will analyze how non-governmental organizations can influence a state’s behavior, which he hopes will provide insight into the complex interactions between the U.S., South Korea and North Korea.

“I’m looking forward to being able to learn about and explore Korean culture further, improve my language skills and prepare for a career in public service,” said Boydston, who has also received a fellowship from the Robertson Foundation for Government, which supports students interested in pursuing careers in the federal government.

Before beginning the Master’s in Pacific International Affairs (MPIA) program at IR/PS, Boydston spent two years in Korea teaching English at universities and rural elementary schools. As a graduate student, his interests are focused on security in East Asia and economic development and engagement policy with North Korea.

“With the Boren Fellowship, I’ll be able to apply the skills and theory I’ve learned in a region of the world I’m fascinated with and that has great implications for U.S. foreign policy and national security interests,” he said.

Each UC San Diego award recipient in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program will receive round-trip airfare to their host country, travel and health insurance, and monthly stipends for living expenses. The program, which is administered by the Institute of International Education on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, supports independent research and study while facilitating cultural exchange and promoting international partnerships.

Jiakun Jack Zhang

Jiakun Jack Zhang earned his bachelor's degree at Duke University before coming to UC San Diego for graduate school.

Jiakun Jack Zhang, a doctoral candidate in the department of political science, will travel to China to pursue his research at the intersection of political economy and security. Specifically, he is interested in how security developments in East Asia impact multinational corporations.

“The Fulbright program will provide me the opportunity to collect data and conduct interviews in Beijing and Shanghai, where the majority of the foreign firms I am interested in studying are based, as well as the major foreign industry associations,” said Zhang.

Before arriving at UC San Diego, Zhang worked as a researcher for the Eurasia Group in Washington, D.C. At IR/PS, Zhang serves as senior advisor to the China Focus Blog, a student-run website designed to provide a context for understanding China, its role in the world and U.S-China relations.

In addition to field research, Zhang plans to use the Fulbright opportunity to collaborate with Chinese scholars and build connections between their universities and UC San Diego.

“UC San Diego is one of the best places in the world to study contemporary China,” said Zhang. “I would like to find local partners for ongoing UCSD-based projects and help build the UC San Diego brand in China.”

The 13 Boren and Fulbright award recipients from UC San Diego for 2014-2015 are

Boren Awards for International Study

  • Kent Boydston, MPIA student at IR/PS, South Korea
  • Mark Buttweiler, MPIA student at IR/PS, South Korea
  • Luke Sanford, MPIA student at IR/PS, China
  • Eli Yani, MPIA student at IR/PS, China

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

  • Edward Falk, doctoral candidate, department of history
    Turkey, research grant
  • Mable Huang, undergraduate student, department of political science
    China, research grant and Critical Language Enhancement Award
  • Katie Kinsella, M.Ed.’13, department of education studies
    Colombia, English Teaching Assistantship
  • Dominic Miller, MFA student, department of visual arts
    Mexico, arts grant
  • Leonidas Mylonakis, doctoral candidate, department of history
    Greece, research grant
  • Ulices Pina, doctoral candidate, department of history
    Mexico, research grant
  • Robert Terrell, doctoral candidate, department of history
    Germany, research grant
  • Hannah Smith, doctoral candidate, department of anthropology  
    India, research grant
  • Jiakun Jack Zhang, doctoral candidate, department of political science
    China, research grant

The UC San Diego Office of Graduate Studies provides information about a variety of federal and private fellowship opportunities for current students and recent graduates—including advice for searching and applying for funding. To learn more, visit or email Zoe Ziliak Michel at

For more stories of UC San Diego Fulbright recipients, visit the UCSD Fulbright Student Blog.