Four Carls participate in Fulbright Canada MITACS Globalink research program

The MITACS Globalink Fellowship provides undergraduate students with the chance to participate in academic research at various Canadian universities and provides them with a range of professional development and networking opportunities.

Isabel Rameker ’24 7 April 2022 Posted In:

Carleton has had four Fulbright Canada MITACS Globalink scholars in the past year. Elena Morales-Grahl ’23, a biology major with a neuroscience minor, and Anna Klein ’23, a geology major, participated in the prestigious Fulbright Canada MITACS Globalink research program during the summer of 2021. This coming summer Carleton will send two more students to the program: biology majors Max Felland ’23 and Lora Randa ’23. 

The MITACS Globalink Fellowship provides undergraduate students with the chance to participate in academic research at various Canadian universities and provides them with a range of professional development and networking opportunities. 

Due to COVID restrictions, Morales-Grahl and Klein participated virtually in their summer 2021 internships. Although a different experience, both say they still got a lot out of the internship. 

“Given that the program was moved virtual, it was very different from what I expected when I applied,” Morales-Grahl said. “Instead of doing hands-on experiments, I did a lot more work with manuscript writing and experimental design. I never had the opportunity to design a ‘real’ experiment before that would actually be conducted and possibly published. It was very exciting yet nerve-wracking. It was really cool that my mentor (Neuroscience professor Syrina Al Ain at the University of Quebec Trois-Rivieres) trusted me enough to do such a vital task for her, and to be able to prove to myself that I could do it. In the end, I helped design two research studies and helped write a manuscript. I got very good at reading research papers quickly and got a lot better at writing manuscripts.”

“If I had been in Canada, it would’ve been amazing,” Klein said. “Online, my favorite part was figuring out how to code with help from a University of British Columbia PhD student. I feel like I know better what graduate students do and what it’s like to work in a lab, even if it was online.”

Randa and Felland, who will both be traveling to Canada for their summer research, expressed their hopes for the program. 

“This program represents a unique opportunity to conduct really interesting research and to be part of an international educational and cultural exchange,” said Randa, a biology major who will be working with Dr. Mohammad Auais at Queen’s University on a home-based physiotherapy clinical trial. “I plan to pursue a career as a physician, and I hope this program will give me insight into the processes surrounding clinical research as well as exposure to orthopedic medicine and interdisciplinary collaboration within the medical field. I also think that having the opportunity to learn about and work within a healthcare system outside of the U.S. will be a really valuable experience that I will bring with me back to Carleton and into my career.”

“I’ll be doing a variety of different biochemical things, really going down to the molecular level to understand how [the autophagy degradation pathway] is important in regulating a healthy body system,” Felland said. “I think that my experience at UBC will be really applicable to any research I’ll be doing in my senior year, and will hopefully help me to be a stronger part of a lab here at Carleton. I also think a big part of this experience is to get an idea of what does interest me [in terms of research].”

Morales-Grahl also attributed her Carleton education to helping prepare her for the application process as well as for the internship itself. 

“There is no doubt my Carleton education thus far helped me during my internship,” Morales-Grahl said. “My professor expected me to know how to read and write research papers, and thankfully, I had done lots of this in my previous science courses. I felt that my previous neuroscience courses also gave me the base knowledge and language I needed to talk about neuroscience with other professionals.”

All four participants also expressed gratitude towards multiple Carleton staff and faculty members in the application process. 

“Marynel Ryan Van Zee from the Fellowship Office and Keri Asp from the Career Center were super helpful during the application process, especially when it came to giving me advice on my essays,” Morales-Grahl said. “Eric Hoopfer and Sarah Meerts, my neuroscience professors, were also very helpful while applying.”

“Sarah Titus and Meredith McCoy wrote me recommendation letters,” Klein said. “It was a process I had never done before, and they were both so very helpful. All my interviewers commented on the quality of my recommendations.”

“I really want to thank Joe Chihade and Rou-Jia Sung!” Randa said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do research with both of these professors for the past year now and they have provided me with invaluable mentorship and research experience that made me a competitive applicant for this position. I also want to thank Marynel Ryan Van Zee who made me aware of this opportunity!”

“Rou-Jia Sung, my advisor, and Marynel from the Fellowship Office were both very helpful. I would definitely recommend anyone going through the Fellowship search process to [reach out to the office].”

According to their website, Fulbright Canada provides support to students, scholars, teachers and independent researchers through a variety of programs which are open to individuals in all academic fields with the exception of medical training.

“It was a great first internship,” Klein said. “Fulbright Canada MITACS Globalink creates a lot of structure, there is a very clear start and end date, it’s clear when you will get funding, and you have a mentor completely separate from the project you are paired with, so there are lots of people to email with questions.” 

“Because I was unable to actually go to Canada and conduct research with my mentor, my mentor told me that she would love to have me go work with her in the future,” Morales-Grahl said. “I am currently planning on going to Canada next summer to work with her in Quebec and carry out my own research project. This experience gave me some amazing connections and showed me that research is something I am passionate about and something that I want to pursue.”

Fulbright programs have more than 350,000 alumni in more than 160 countries and are considered the gold standard in academic exchange and a leader in public diplomacy.