Laura Dalton receives 2020 research award for U.S Fulbright Student Program

Laura Dalton is a Ph.D. student in civil engineering, who is using 3D imaging to examine the mass transport of water and gas through cement-based materials. She received a research award from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to study in Finland. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, she will begin her program in Finland on Jan. 1, 2021.

Dalton said she chose Finland for her research fellowship in order to work with two researchers there who are leaders in a 3D imaging technique that uses electric measurements to visualize the movement of fluid and gas through concrete. The researchers are at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland, and she hopes she will be able to divide her time between the two locations.

“We have a small setup at NC State that I’m starting to learn, but I can learn a lot more from their expertise,” Dalton said.

At NC State the application process for the Fulbright program takes almost a year from declaring the intent to apply to notification of finalists. After declaring she would apply in April 2019, she had benchmarks to meet in the coming months to prepare for the final application deadline in October 2019.

Courtney Hughes edited her application materials at least four times. In addition, Dalton participated in interviews with NC State reviewers who helped her to improve her application. In December 2019 she learned she was a semi-finalist for the award, then in March she was named a finalist.

Dalton said she came to NC State for her Ph.D. with the intention of becoming a faculty member in academia. Engineering is a discipline that attracts people from many cultures, and she feels that the Fulbright experience will help her to better identify with international students who come to the United States to study engineering.

“Since so many people matriculate (to the United States) to get an education, I think having my own experience of immersing in a new culture and learning from different people will help me better understand what my students, who come from all over the world to get an education, will be going through. And hopefully I’ll have a better understanding of that process and be able to empathize with them and enhance their experience,” she said.

Written By: Natalie E. Hampton, The Graduate School Director of Marketing and Communication