Skip to main content

Blugold Fulbrights: The tradition continues

| Denise Olson

This past February, the U.S. Department of Education listed UW-Eau Claire as tied for 15th in Fulbright grant winners, among all public and private master's level universities in the country. At that time, 17 Blugolds had won the award in the last decade. We can proudly announce that total has climbed to 18.

This month it was announced that Anneli Williams, a December 2016 graduate from Eau Claire with a double major in German and geography, has been awarded a Fulbright to begin a master's degree in linguistics. The University Honors Program alumna will be funded for the first year of her graduate studies, and related research, at Philipps University Marburg in Marburg, Germany. It's a city Williams already knows well, after a semester study abroad there during her junior year. 

"While in Marburg, I took intensive German language classes as well as completed an internship at the Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas, an acclaimed institute for linguistic research that uses geospatial technology to map German dialects. This experience was invaluable, as it enabled me to weave my passions for language and geography together," Williams said.

The master's degree program to which Williams is applying is in linguistics, and she hopes to find opportunities to apply the geospatial skill set she gained while earning the Geospatial Certificate here at UW-Eau Claire, perhaps conducting research in linguistic geography. Those who have worked with her on campus are not at all surprised by this prestigious Fulbright honor, and are confident that her stellar undergraduate commitment will continue in graduate pursuits. 

"Anneli Williams has done truly extraordinary work in German, geography and anthropology, the University Honors Program, and linguistics," said Dr. Jeff Vahlbusch, director of the University Honors Program. "All who have had the privilege of working with her at UW-Eau Claire over the past 4 1/2 years have been impressed by her achievements and have recognized her great potential. We are delighted that, with the support of a Fulbright grant, Anneli will have the opportunity to engage in Masters-level study in a world-class Linguistics program in Marburg, Germany. And we are looking forward to following her career."

As Vahlbusch noted, several faculty members worked with and mentored Williams through her undergraduate career, and she very graciously credits them with her success in class, in research, and in receiving this grant.

"Within the German department, I would like to thank Dr. Josh Brown for his instrumental role in helping me land my internship at the Sprachatlas and Dr. Martina Lindseth for her significant role as my research mentor," she stated. Like Vahlbusch, Brown saw tremendous talent and ambition in Williams, and he was able to assist her in finding the perfect place to pursue her research interests.

"When Anneli wanted to study in Germany and wanted to combine her German and geography majors, I thought back to my own internship a decade earlier at the Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas at the university in Marburg, Germany. The Sprachatlas is an internationally renowned linguistic mapping and dialectology research center founded in the 19th century. Her interests in both German and geography made her a great candidate for an internship working on the ever-growing digital dialect maps, which help us understand the dynamics of language change over time," Brown explained.

Collaborative student-faculty research is a priority of both UW-Eau Claire and the Fulbright granting agency, and Williams' participation in this high-impact practice most certainly added to her appeal as an applicant. Her research mentor in German, Dr. Martina Lindseth, was impressed her research abilities early on. 

"Anneli worked with me on an ambitious collaborative research project on the development of writing proficiency during a study abroad program. I nominated her paper for the annual Provost's Honors Symposium, selection for which is an honor and bears witness to the top-notch quality of a student's work. Her presentation was unanimously lauded by many colleagues as one of the best in all the sessions. Anneli is a very deserving recipient of the Fulbright; I and my colleagues in German couldn’t be more proud of her," Lindseth said.

William's will once again be presenting at the Provost's Honors Symposium, as her current project with Dr. Erica Benson, professor of English and linguistics, has been selected for this year's Symposium.

"We conceived of a project at the intersection of geography and linguistics that breaks new ground by investigating the representation of borders in studies of perceptual dialectology. Anneli is a skilled researcher and I rely on her expertise with Geographic Information System technology to analyze the data for this project. We are currently working on an article that we plan to submit to an academic journal by the end of the summer," Benson stated. "She has a bright future ahead."

In addition to Brown's significant assistance, Williams has a special thanks to send to Germany, to another person whose support was important in her Fulbright application process. Fulbright applicants are encouraged to solicit a recommendation from the intended institution, outlining the ways in which the institution will be able to support the applicant's goals.

"I would like to thank Dr. Roland Kehrein of Philipps University in Marburg, my internship supervisor at the Deutscher Sprachatlas. He offered me the opportunity to interview and work there, and also wrote in support of my Fulbright as my contact in Germany.  

"I feel incredibly grateful to have received a Fulbright award for next year.  I am a huge supporter of UW-Eau Claire's commitment to study abroad and immersion experiences, and have benefited immensely from having the opportunity to live, learn and grow in another country. I would encourage all students to seriously consider studying abroad or participating in an immersion program — it will challenge you and change your life for the better," Williams said.  

Students interested in finding out more about study abroad should contact the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire online, email or call 715-836-4411. Questions about the Fulbright program should be directed to Cheryl Lochner-Wright at