La Jollan lands Fulbright scholarship

La Jollan and Stanford University graduate Lily S. Kornbluth has a new honor to add to her growing list: a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship to Germany.

“I’ll be there for 10 months studying psycholinguistics,” said Kornbluth, who went to Bird Rock Elementary and The Bishop’s School and is one of more than 1,500 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad in the 2010-11 academic year through the Fulbright program.

Fulbright is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The program is administered by the Institute of International Education. Since its inception in 1946, approximately 300,000 student scholars, teachers, artists and scientists have participated in it.

An aspiring medical physician, Kornbluth said the project for which she was awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship overseas will involve exploring how kids learn language.

“The idea is that fluent speakers of a language process it rapidly,” she said. “Kids (learning language) have to develop that rapid processing. I’m looking at how 5-year-olds develop their short-term memory, how that fits into their rapid processing of language.”

Kornbluth’s goal is to ultimately become a primary care physician.

James Lawrence, public affairs officer for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington, D.C., said the purpose of the international scholarship program established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

“Senator Fulbright, who’d been a Rhodes scholar before World War II, believed the best way to break down bridges, help people not to fight each other, was to have an academic exchange program with a cultural component to it,” Lawrence said. “Each Fulbrighter that goes out is kind of a cultural ambassador to the U.S., teaching people they interact with about Americans.”

Lawrence said there are about 8,000 Fulbright grants worldwide involving about 160 countries. He added that Germany is one of the oldest and most well-established of the Fulbright programs in terms of funding and the total number of grants.

Fulbright program alumni have achieved distinction in a number of fields. Forty of them from 11 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, with 75 of them claiming Pulitzer Prizes.

For more information about the Fulbright program, visit