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Fulbright Scholars undeterred by COVID-19 pandemic
FIU Fulbright Scholars Cohort 2020-2021

Fulbright Scholars undeterred by COVID-19 pandemic

FIU's 2020-2021 Fulbright Scholars are Natalie Castellanos, Lukas Danner, Manuel Gomez, Kenneth Lipartito, and Susanne Zwingel.

February 9, 2021 at 9:00am

Five FIU faculty members have been chosen for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program this year. 

Faculty members Natalie Castellanos, Lukas Danner, Manuel Gomez, Kenneth Lipartito and Susanne Zwingel make up FIU's 2020-2021 Fulbright cohort. 

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly derailed global mobility and engagement. Four of the university's five faculty members and one student were forced to return home early from their 2019-2020 Fulbright assignment abroad.

For this year's Fulbright scholars, prospects to travel abroad remained uncertain. Fulbright fellows are expected to teach, research and engage with the host community to advance relations between the host country and the United States through people-to-people diplomacy. Physical distancing to stop COVID-19 from spreading makes this assignment difficult. FIU’s Fulbrighters, though, are undeterred and focused on completing their mission—this year or next.

Natalie Castellanos, an assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and director of policy and public affairs at the Health Foundation of South Florida, will be hosted by the University of Buenos Aires Law School’s Center for Human Rights in Fall 2021. She will be teaching workshops and leading research on inter-disciplinary approaches to advancing health equity and human rights in Argentina, with a focus on medical-legal partnerships. While there are over 300 healthcare systems in the U.S. that include medical-legal partnerships as an intervention to address patients’ social needs, few have been identified internationally and none in Latin America. Castellanos’ Fulbright project seeks to address this gap in knowledge, as well as identify opportunities and challenges to adopting the approach in Argentina.

Castellanos is a 2011 graduate of the College of Law. As a law student she was awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study international and comparative law in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her interest in participating in the Fulbright Program as an early career scholar builds on the international opportunities she was afforded as an FIU law student, and she is looking forward to representing FIU as both faculty and alumni within the Fulbright Program.

Manuel A. Gómez is a professor of law and the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Global Engagement at the College of Law. He will be hosted by the University of Minho School of Law in Portugal in Spring 2022. As a Fulbright Scholar, Gómez will teach a course titled “Transnational Lawyering: Contracts, Disputes and New Technologies." This course will introduce LL.M. students enrolled in the European and Transglobal Business Law program to the current state of transnational law and legal practice from the perspective of the United States.  Gómez will also organize two thematic workshops— the first on empirical research methods, and the second on policy analysis and the law. These two workshops will be aimed at early-stage researchers and will be geared to entice them to gain understanding about the value of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law.

Kenneth Lipartito, professor of history, will be spending the Fall 2021 semester at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto as a Fulbright Scholar. He will be collaborating with faculty on a multi-year research project on distribution sensitive innovation. Their goal is to develop programs and policies that encourage innovators in industry and government to develop new products, processes and services that are of benefit to all and help to reduce economic and social inequality.

Lipartito will focus on information technologies and the problems and biases of surveillance, which has become a growing issue of concern in the world.  

Susanne Zwingel, associate professor of politics and international relations, has deferred her Fulbright Scholar award to the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine) in Trinidad and Tobago to Fall 2021. Zwingel will conduct research and teach international women’s rights norms and transnational feminism in the Caribbean, in collaboration with the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS).

Zwingel brings to this research ample knowledge about gender norm development within global governance institutions; she is interested in the contribution of Caribbean feminists to global development as well as in the interplay of global norms and regional and domestic feminist activism. She will interact with graduate and undergraduate students and collaborate with IGDS, which is uniquely involved in research, public policy development and civil society activism.  

Lukas K. Danner, an instructor in the Department of Politics and International Relations and research associate at the Miami-Florida Jean Monnet Center of Excellence, arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland, in early January 2021. Since public health conditions on this Nordic island are deemed safe, Danner is being hosted as Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Scholar at the Centre for Arctic Studies of the Institute of International Affairs at the University of Iceland until June of this year.

Danner's research project is titled “Iceland's Second Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2019-2021): A Study in Small States Leadership.” Contrary to the misconception that only great powers exert leadership internationally, he analyzes topical priorities set by the Icelandic Arctic Council chairmanship, the influence exercised in agenda-setting, and diplomatic efforts undertaken in bringing together interests of larger and smaller Arctic Council members and observers, as well as indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations. Danner is also teaching a graduate course on international political economy.

“Here I am in front of Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik's main landmark, and the statue of Leif Erikson that the U.S. government gave to Iceland on the occasion of the millennial celebration of the establishment of Iceland's parliament, the Althingi, in 1930. (Insofar, a long-standing connection between the Icelandic and American people symbolized here with that statue, not just on the basis of parliamentary/democracy but also the fact that Leif Erikson, an Icelander, is credited with having been the first European to have stepped foot on the North American continent—roughly 500 years before Columbus.)”—Lukas K. Danner.


The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. FIU currently counts 42 Fulbright Program alumni amongst its faculty. 

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns.

The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. This year, the Fulbright Program celebrates its 75th anniversary.

To learn more about Fulbright exchange opportunities, visit and contact FIU’s Fulbright Program campus liaisons Assefa Melesse at or Gitta Montoto at

This article was first published on Feb 9. It was subsequently updated to add the fourth and fifth Fulbright Scholar awardees, Natalie Castellanos and Manuel Gómez.