Grinnell College Graduating Seniors and Alumni Receive Fulbright Grants

Published: May 16, 2022, by Grinnell College, Office of Communications

Grinnell College graduating seniors and alumni—Mary DaVegaSarina KopfSarina Lincoln, and Katelyn Mehlhaus—were awarded Fulbright U.S. student grants to conduct research and teach English abroad in 2022–2023. They were selected based on their academic achievement and leadership potential, with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.  

For 75 years, Fulbright grants have provided future American leaders with an unparalleled opportunity to study, conduct research, and teach abroad, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.  

“I am extremely proud of our four grantees and all of our applicants in this year’s application cycle,” said Ann Landstrom, Fulbright program adviser (FPA) and assistant dean and director of global fellowships and awards in Grinnell College’s Center for Careers, Life, and Service. She continued, “Grinnellians are excited for opportunities that direct their knowledge, skills, and passions toward global inquiry and exchange; and these four grantees are poised to be successful ambassadors around the globe.” 

Mary DaVega, Class of 2021 

Mary DaVega

Mary DaVega, a political science major with a policy studies concentration, was selected for a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Amman, Jordan, where she will teach and support secondary and university students in their English studies and consult with faculty on English pedagogy. In addition, she received the Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA) to study Arabic at Qasid Institute in Amman, which runs concurrently with the Fulbright Grant. 

“I am most excited to engage my future students with the cultural ways of life within which English lives,” said DaVega. “I’m grateful for my Arabic professors and Arabic Fulbright teaching assistants for teaching me this way—complementing method-based lessons with explanations of the syntax and cultural context in which they are used.” She wants her students to be able to approach our plurilingual world with confidence and to understand intercultural communication, which is the essence of language learning. 

DaVega’s enjoyment of teaching grew out of her first experience in education as a City Year AmeriCorps Member in Memphis, Tennessee. While studying abroad, she worked as a teacher for the Queen Rania Foundation “Madrasati” program in Ajloun, Jordan. Since her graduation in May 2021, DaVega has worked as an employment caseworker for Asian Human Services in Chicago. Her other work experiences include serving as a translator of Arabic-English media for Watching America, Arabic-English medical interpreter during the Covid-19 pandemic, and intern with RefugeeOne in Chicago. 

DaVega, with origins in Lexington, Kentucky; Daytona Beach, Florida; and Memphis, Tennessee, served as a tutor for beginning Arabic and worked with the Liberal Arts in Prison Program at Grinnell College. She was a member of the Political Science Student Educational Policy Committee (SEPC), a senator for the Student Government Association, a participant in Arabic Table, and a performer with the Grinnell Singers. 

Following the Fulbright, DaVega will seek professional experiences in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and look to complete a master’s degree in public administration or education. She is actively pursuing a career as a Foreign Service Officer in the Consular Services division. 

Sarina Kopf, Class of 2022  

Sarina Kopf

Sarina Kopf, a biological chemistry major, was selected for a Fulbright research/study grant in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she will study DNA nanotechnology under Dr. Maartje Bastings.  

“My Fulbright research project stands at the intersection of several disciplines,” said Kopf. “I will employ tools from chemistry, biology, computer science, and engineering to study the interactions between multivalent ligands—made of DNA nanotechnology—and their receptors.” She added that this work sheds light on multivalent ligand binding in nature and will help the Bastings’ lab design more biologically active DNA nanotechnology in the future. 

At Grinnell College, Kopf conducted research in genetics and computational genetics in biochemistry and organic synthesis of chalcones research in organic chemistry. In addition, she served as an applied biochemistry researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bioenergy REU, optogenetics researcher at the University of Colorado-Anschutz, and aeroponic engineering research intern with the International Space Stations National Laboratory.  

Kopf, from Golden, Colorado, is a Presidential Merit Scholar and Dean’s List recipient; she also received the American Chemical Society POLYmer Award and Phi Beta Kappa Sophomore Book Award. She has been recognized for her performance in statistics competitions and Research Experiences for Undergraduates poster competitions. Kopf is a pole vaulter for the Grinnell College women’s track and field team; she earned the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s All-Academic Award, which recognized her as one of the top scholar-athletes in NCAA Division III. 

“I’m excited to experience what research is like in another country and to do research that truly fits my interest,” said Kopf. “Because of the pandemic, I was not able to study abroad, so this feels like a bit of a second chance, and all together, it feels like a dream come true.” 

Following the Fulbright, Kopf will pursue a PhD in chemistry and use her education and experiences to work toward developing renewable energy solutions. 

Sarina Lincoln, Class of 2021 

Sarina L

Sarina Lincoln, a biology major from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, was selected for a Fulbright research/study grant in Chile in the subject area of fisheries. Lincoln will research “Characterizing the extent of unreported catches in central Chile’s small-scale fisheries.” 

Lincoln, in affiliation with Dr. Miriam Fernandez of Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, will live at a Chilean marine science research station while she conducts her research. She will learn about Chile’s economically and culturally significant fisheries while collaborating with local fishers and collecting data to understand what motivates unreported fishing. This work will affect the accuracy of fisheries population assessments and regulation used to support the sustainability of marine life, thereby enhancing the sustainability of crucial food sources and income. 

“This grant is the culmination of my lifelong love of the ocean,” said Lincoln. “I can’t wait to contribute to research that supports not only the marine environment, but also the people who are dependent on it for their livelihoods.” She continued, “Nearly all of the world’s fisheries are depleted, and so there is an urgent need to better understand how to manage the marine environment.” 

While at Grinnell, Lincoln studied abroad in Capetown, South Africa. She took a fisheries course at the University of Cape Town and extended her stay to work as a research assistant investigating fisheries science with Dr. Colin G. Attwood. She was also a student research intern with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Ocean Giants, and a marine policy intern with Turtle Island Restoration Network.  

On-campus, Lincoln enjoyed living in Food House and was involved in theatre and dance productions. She also served as a photographer for the Scarlet & Black student newspaper, communications, and athletics departments. “I went to Grinnell focused on studying biology but ended up loving my courses in political science and sociology as well,” said Lincoln. “My interest in interdisciplinary ocean studies was inspired by the breadth of courses I could take during my time at Grinnell College.” 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College, Lincoln moved to San Francisco to work for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to collect critical data on California’s salmon fishery and to work collaboratively with salmon fishers at the historic Fisherman’s Wharf harbor. 

Following the Fulbright, Lincoln plans to continue thinking about interdisciplinary, international ocean issues by pursuing a master’s in environmental management with a focus on ocean systems. 

Katelyn Mehlhaus, Class of 2022 

Katelyn M

Katelyn Mehlhaus, a history and sociology double major with a peace and conflict studies concentration from Boone, Iowa, was selected for a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in the Czech Republic. Mehlhaus will support English language education at regional high schools and plan and organize community outreach events to enhance the impact of her stay and integrate into the local host institution and host town. 

“I am extremely excited about this next step in my adventure,” said Mehlhaus. “I cannot wait to see what the Czech Republic has in store for me!” In addition to assistant teaching, she plans to organize an extracurricular activity at her assigned school analyzing United States and Czech Republic media. She is also eager to engage with music, theatre, and aquatics in the community. 

Mehlhaus’s engagement with education and specifically teaching stems from her work as a day camp director and camp leader with the Greater Des Moines Y for four years, while also serving as a lifeguard instructor. In addition, she has performed service-leadership work study at the United Church of Christ preschool.  

A Merit Scholar and Dean’s List recipient, she has been an actor and director with The Neverland Players, served on the History and Sociology Student Education Policy Committees, and worked as the head lifeguard at the Osgood Natatorium and as a student phonathan caller with development and alumni relations. 

Following the Fulbright, Mehlhaus plans to obtain a master’s degree in education or social work. She shared that the Fulbright English Teaching assistantship will be a valuable experience in lesson-planning, classroom management, and a broader cultural view that she can bring back to a classroom in the United States. 


Another senior was named a semi-finalist in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program process for 2022–2023: 

  • Abraham Teuber, class of 2022, of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, was a semi-finalist for an English-teaching assistantship in Greece. He is an English major with a film and media studies concentration.  

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries worldwide and annually awards more than 2,100 grants for U.S. students to study overseas. Visit for more information about the program. Grinnell College current students and alumni are invited to meet with Fulbright Program Advisor Ann Landstrom ( for guidance and information.

By Ann Landstrom
Ann Landstrom Assistant Dean & Director of Global Fellowships & Awards