Two VCU students named Fulbright Scholars

Jessica Hite.  Photos by Mike Porter, VCU Public Relations
Jessica Hite. Photos by Mike Porter, VCU Public Relations

Two Virginia Commonwealth University students have earned Fulbright Student Scholarships to conduct research abroad.

Jessica Hite, who will graduate from VCU this spring with a master’s degree in biology, and Jessica Jagger, a second-year doctoral student in the School of Social Work, will receive funding from the Fulbright Program to travel to Panama and Jamaica, respectively, for in-depth study in their areas of interest. Six VCU students have received Fulbright awards in the past four years.

“These students have worked exceptionally hard in representing VCU in the Fulbright Scholarship competition,” said Jeff Wing, national scholarship coordinator in the Honors College at VCU. “The Fulbright provides them with an invaluable opportunity to pursue their research interests in the field for an extended period of time. Their Fulbright experiences will inevitably influence their career trajectories.”

Hite, a native of Oakland, Tenn., will continue research in Panama that she began while at VCU. Hite will spend six months studying how tadpoles in the lowlands of Panama affect ecosystem functions. Hite said the research will help answer questions about widespread amphibian declines in the tropics. She will collaborate on the project with other researchers, including her adviser at VCU, James Vonesh, assistant professor of biology. Following her work in Panama, Hite will enroll as a Ph.D. student in aquatic ecology at Indiana University.

Jessica Jagger.
Jessica Jagger.

Jagger, a native of Toms River, N.J., will use the Fulbright support to conduct research on emergency management policy and disability in Jamaica. Jagger will explore how leaders account for people with disabilities in emergency planning, especially examining the impact that people with disabilities have on the development of policy. Jagger, who plans to conduct her research for 10 months starting in November, became interested in this topic after observing the particularly disruptive impact that Hurricane Katrina had on people with disabilities. Jagger will return following her Fulbright research to complete her Ph.D. work at VCU.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.

Jagger and Hite applied for the Fulbright Student Scholarship through the Honors College’s National Scholarship Office, which assists the best and brightest VCU students and alumni to compete for prestigious national and international scholarships.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see