Jackie Wrage will attempt to help the Chilean government move closer to its renewable energy goals thanks to a prestigious Fulbright grant.
The NDSU senior will spend nine months at the University of Chile in Santiago studying and working with a university research group on a geothermal energy study. The project, which will focus on areas around two volcanoes in southern Chile, could aid the Chilean government’s recent push to have 20 percent of its power supplied by renewable resources by 2025.
“I like to try new things and I never turn down new opportunities,” said Wrage, from Gwinner, North Dakota. “Studying and doing research in Chile will be a lot of fun, and it will also give me a chance to perform some really advanced research.”
The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The study/research grants are awarded to graduate students or recent graduates with rigorous coursework and research project proposals. Recipients are selected based on their proposal and academic or professional achievement.
Wrage was a strong Fulbright candidate because of the experience she gained conducting a variety of research projects as an NDSU undergraduate. Last summer she analyzed samples with the university’s Wet Ecosystem Research Group and worked on her own research project on nanoparticle-treated wheat plants. That project was selected as a poster at NDSU EXPLORE, a campus event that celebrates undergraduate student research and creative activity.
Wrage works with University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Allan Ashworth identifying different species of insects that he collected from several locations in Chile from 1977-1997. She also researched a project last fall that focused on the chemical changes in a river near a volcano in Argentina.
Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat, associate professor of geology and Wrage’s adviser, said she was born to be a scientist.
“Jackie is one of those rare and gifted students that comes through about once every decade,” he said. “She has the qualities of persistence, resilience and organization that all faculty look for in students. Jackie is also a deep thinker who is creative and forward-looking in her approach to learning.”
Wrage is scheduled to travel to Chile in 2016. She’s working on lining up a host family in Santiago, and she’s already picked up a copy of language-learning software to brush up on her Spanish language skills.
“I’ve always wanted to study abroad and this Fulbright opportunity gives me a chance to do that,” Wrage said. “I’m looking forward to the research, classes and immersing myself in the culture of Chile.”