Three faculty members earn prestigious Fulbright Scholar awards for international research

An icon graphic representing Research in Action, from the Beyond Boundries Strategic PlanThree faculty members have received Fulbright Scholar awards to conduct research and teaching opportunities overseas. The recipients are Dr. Laura Matthew, associate professor of history, and Dr. Jessica Rich, associate professor of political science, both of the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. James Pokrywczynski, associate professor of strategic communication in the Diederich College of Communication. 


Matthew’s Fulbright Scholar award will take her to Guatemala, where she will continue work on a book-length manuscript, “Those Who Survived: Trade and Mobility on Mesoamerica’s Mar del Sur.” She will also work with local colleagues to support advanced study of history for students in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the 1524 Nahua-Spanish invasion and prepare the groundwork for a future collaborative project to map the earliest Spanish Indigenous city in Central America ahead of its quincentenary in 1527.  

“Most of my Fulbright will be spent completing a full draft my book, ‘Those Who Survived,’” Matthew said. “I will also take time during my Fulbright term to collaborate with Guatemalan colleagues in anticipation of the 500th anniversaries of the Spanish invasion and earliest colonization of Central America, the topics of my first two books. This will be a moment of serious reflection in Guatemala on Indigenous rights, historical racism and the legacies of Spanish imperialism. I am honored to contribute to similar, but necessarily distinct, conversations planned by the Universidad de San Carlos and other Guatemalan institutions.” 

“Those Who Survived” reconsiders the effects of early modern globalization on Indigenous people at the end of the 16th century rather than during the better-known Spanish conquest era. It focuses on commerce and migration along one of the most important trade corridors of the Mesoamerican world: the Pacific coast from modern-day Oaxaca to Guatemala and El Salvador. 


Rich will conduct research in Brazil on when and how social movements matter for sustaining policy change. Social movements often play pivotal roles in getting governments to adopt policies for marginalized groups and the poor, but little is known about how social movements hold governments accountable for sustaining, not just instigating, those policies over time. Rich’s research will look at how social movements hold governments accountable for maintaining policies that address the needs of marginalized groups. 

“When social movements are able to play pivotal roles in getting governments to adopt policies for marginalized groups and the poor, I use the term ‘inclusionary policies,’” Rich said, “We still know little about inclusionary policies and how social movements hold governments accountable for sustaining, not just instigating, those policies over time. I am researching this question in the context of Brazil, one the most economically unequal countries in the world, but also the most dramatic recent example of how social movements can shift government agendas to adopt policies that redress inequalities.” 

Rich’s first book, “State-Sponsored Activism: Bureaucrats and Social Movements in Democratic Brazil,” explained Brazil’s unexpected success in combatting the HIV/AIDS pandemic by calling attention to the hidden roles of activists in helping government policymakers. 


Pokrywczynski will use his Fulbright opportunity to continue his sports marketing research on name, image and likeness rights opportunities. His focus looks at both the perspective of athletes’ opportunities, as well as the impact of their sponsorship roles for companies and product brands. No destination or experience has been finalized at this time. 

“Name, image and likeness rights are at the forefront of the sports conversation in this country when it comes to student-athletes,” Pokrywczynski said. “This opportunity will allow me to expand my research into the topic at all levels internationally and gain a better understanding of both sides of NIL deals with athletes and the companies that sponsor them.” 

Pokrywczynski’s opportunity comes through the Fulbright Specialist program, which allows for shorter opportunities of 2-6 weeks each. While his trip has not been finalized at this time, he is expected to have up to three years to complete the experience. This is his second Fulbright award through this program, having taught two classes and researched consumer brand perspectives in Cairo, Egypt, in 2008. 

Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by the people of partner nations. The Fulbright Scholar Program is designed to expand and strengthen the relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world. The Fulbright Global Scholar Award allows U.S. academics and professionals to engage in multi-country, trans-regional projects.