Press Release

2019-2020 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellows Announced

Here’s what our 2019-2020 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellows will undertake in the next year.

Photo credit: Zack Bolton

Photograph by Photo credit: Zack Bolton

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Geographic Society announced today the selection of the 2019-2020 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellows.

This is the sixth group of Fellows selected from a highly competitive, merit-based competition. The Fellowship provides a unique platform for U.S. Fulbright Students to travel overseas to undertake an in-depth exploration of globally relevant issues using a variety of digital storytelling tools and media — including blogs, photography, video, and social media — and share their stories by providing content to National Geographic digital platforms, with the support and mentorship of National Geographic staff. These storytelling tools are a powerful resource in building lasting ties across cultures.

The four Fellows are:

Melanie KirbyEnvironmentalistSpain

Melanie Kirby will travel across Spain to survey bee mating behavior from coastal to alpine topographies to elucidate how endemic and introduced strains of honeybees are adapting to shifting environmental stressors. She will also follow the intersection of clay and apiculture, from cave paintings to honey pots and see saving. Melanie received her master’s degree in entomology in the Sheppard Apis Molecular Lab at Washington State University.

Emi KochSocial Ecologist Vietnam

Emi Koch’s social project will facilitate participatory photography workshops — known as photovoice — for fish-dependent communities in Vietnam to showcase how fishery scarcity and environmental stresses, such as growing populations, pollution, extreme weather events and coastal development, critically undermine social-ecological well-being. Emi received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Georgetown University and her master’s in marine biodiversity and conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Alyea PierceAuthorTrinidad and Tobago

Alyea Pierce’s project will examine the revitalization of oral storytelling and folklore traditions in Trinidad and Tobago through present-day spoken word and rhythm poetry. She will document the history and experiences of people and explore the intricacies of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. Alyea received her bachelor’s degree in communications and her master’s in higher education administration/college student affairs, both from Rutgers University.

Madison WrobleyAnthropologistNepal

Madison Wrobley will travel to Kathmandu, Nepal, to document the reality of water scarcity, which is fundamental to understanding the marginalized populations in the Kathmandu Valley. She will create mappped narratives to show how a lack of available water shapes a society. Madison received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and art history from Washington University in St. Louis.


The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the U.S. government, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 390,000 passionate and accomplished students, scholars, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to complex global challenges. The Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship launched in 2013 as a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

Media Contact

General Media Contact
If you are a member of the media with an inquiry or interview request, please call during regular business hours or email
(202) 857 7027
Back to Top
About The National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content.

To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.