<Two Caltech Grads Selected for Fulbright Fellowships>
This winter, two recent Caltech graduates are scheduled to go abroad to conduct research through
Fulbright Fellowships. Jade Livingston (BS '20), who majored in biology and is from Chappaquiddick
Island in Massachusetts, will visit Melbourne, Australia, to review marine microbes found on coral reefs.
Karen Pham (BS '20), who majored in geology and is from Orange, California, will visit Oslo, Norway, to
explore how best to include fossil data into computational evolutionary models.
The Fulbright Scholar Program, created by the U.S. Congress in 1946, may be a cultural exchange
program that gives grants to students who wish to perform research or pursue creative activities abroad.
The fellowships usually begin a couple of months after graduation, but COVID-related travel restrictions
have delayed this year's program until early 2021 at the soonest.
Livingston, whose interest in science was kindled at an early age by the exploits of French marine
explorer Jacques Cousteau, says the chance to review marine biology in Australia fulfills a childhood
Jade Livingston (BS '20)
As a freshman at Caltech, Livingston discovered a love of microbiology within the lab of Dianne Newman,
the Gordon M. Binder/Amgen Professor of Biology and Geobiology, and later worked at the Marine
Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In Australia, she is going to work with Linda
Blackall and Madeleine van Oppen of the University of Melbourne. Blackall and van Oppen have
cultivated a coral algae which will survive higher temperatures, making them less susceptible to the coral
bleaching related to rising ocean temperatures. Livingston plans to ascertain whether that heat tolerance
is that the results of a symbiotic relationship between the algae and any microbes related to them.
Eventually, this line of research could help develop strategies to guard coral reefs from global climate
"It's microbiology and marine biology and functional science. That's inspiring to me—to do science that
has practical applications. I value discovery for discovery's sake, but i prefer to understand that down the
road this might really help the planet ," Livingston says.
Pham, who was getting to begin her Fulbright add August, will instead matriculate within the fall within the
PhD program in geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, where she is going to conduct research
until travel restrictions are eased. There, she is going to work with paleoecologist Sarah Ivory to review
how the environmental evolution of the world over geological time affects species distributions and thus
their extinction risks. Pham has already won Penn State's Fund for Excellence in Graduate Recruitment
award and a University Graduate Fellowship, also as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research
Karen Pham (BS '20)
Currently, Pham works with George Rossman, professor of mineralogy, on using neural networks to
enhance mineral identifications. Once in Norway, Pham plans to collaborate with Lee Hsiang Liow of the
University of Oslo. Liow also has an affiliation with the explanation Museum of Oslo, and can work with
Pham on research that examines the simplest ways to include data gathered from fossils into
computational evolutionary models. Such models allow scientists to raised understand the speed at
which new species are created also as rates of extinction. Specifically, Pham plans to figure with
bryozoans, colony-dwelling aquatic invertebrates that are well-established within the fossil record.
"The Fulbright Program is a tremendous opportunity to figure face-to-face for months with researchers
who you would possibly otherwise only connect with at conferences or through email. a worldwide
perspective is crucial to develop in science, and that i am so grateful to be ready to not only work with
Lee Hsiang but to try to to so while living during a different country," Pham says. "I'm looking forward to
More than 390,000 scholars have received a Fulbright Fellowship since the program's inception in 1946.
The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually, consistent with its website.