Fulbright Recipient Spotlight: Ellen Korcovelos, Bioinformatics, Canada

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Ellen Korcovelos, from Richmond, Virginia, will receive her bachelor’s of science degree in bioinformatics from VCU in May. With the support of her Fulbright research grant, Korcovelos will be studying the linguistic variation between individuals with dementia and those without cognitive decay at the University of Toronto. After her Fulbright year, Korcovelos will return to work at Commonwealth Computer Research Inc, where she currently works as a data scientist, then go on to pursue her Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics after a couple years of working in the industry.

Ellen Korcovelos - Profile Photos 3-30-16-4943Korcovelos is a member of the VCU Honors College and National Alliance on Mental Illness, and is involved in Competitive Edge Karate. Korcovelos is also the recipient of the Weinstein Scholarship from the VCU Honors College, the Central Virginia Scholarship, the Scott and Stringfellow Educational Foundation Scholarship, and the Dorothy Hall Memorial Scholarship.


 

What is your research focus or proposal for your Fulbright award?
I will be studying the linguistic variation between individuals with dementia and those without cognitive decay. I will work with Dr. Hirst and Dr. Rudzicz of the University of Toronto to develop technologies such as a mobile app and a companionable robot that will be used to track and analyze speech over time.

What do you plan on doing after your Fulbright year?
After my fellowship, I will return to work at Commonwealth Computer Research Inc, where I will serve as a data scientist. I plan to receive my PhD in Computational Linguistics after a couple years of working in industry, and will eventually move on to develop better mechanisms of language analysis for those suffering from mental illness.

What advice would you give to future applicants?
I was sent this quote by a professor during my sophomore year: “To grow up is to lose the ability that what is imagined is real. We erect walls between reality and imagination, become sensible, and forget to keep the mind open to contemplate the impossible. This is what children do so well and we adults can’t, or have a hard time doing, as we try to balance the playful with the reasonable. It is in times like this that I understand why I became a scientist.”

I live by this quote every day. Remember to keep your heart open even when your head is telling you the “logical” thing to do. But most importantly, make the decision you won’t regret, and don’t feel the need to explain your choice to anyone but yourself. If you feel like you need to justify your reasons to yourself, you may need to reconsider the decision you’ve made.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I apply for a Fulbright? 
Ellen and her ten fellow recipients from VCU worked with the National Scholarship Office (NSO) at Virginia Commonwealth University. The NSO works with VCU alumni, graduate students, and undergraduates who wish to compete for prestigious national and international scholarships, such as Fulbright.  If you are interested in applying for Fulbright or other nationally or internationally competitive scholarships, please contact the NSO at natlscholar@vcu.edu or (804) 828-6868.

How many students from VCU are awarded the Fulbright? 
With this latest group of Fulbright Student Scholarship recipients, 42 VCU students and recent alumni have been offered Fulbright awards since the National Scholarship Office was created in 2005.

Can you tell me more about the Fulbright?
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. Learn more at us.fulbrightonline.org.