Mónica Medina, a professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the University of California, Merced, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research at the Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls research station in France during the 2012-13 academic year.
Medina's award was presented by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board's Franco-American Commission , which aims to develop understanding between France and the U.S. through educational and cultural exchanges. The commission grants only about five such awards per year.
The award will allow Medina  to continue her studies into the evolution of symbiotic lifestyles in marine algae — that is, algae that share a codependent relationship with tropical coral reefs. Medina will be hosted in France by researcher Gwenael Piganeau, a member of the Evolutionary and Environmental Genomics of Phytoplankton research group at the station.
The Franco-American Commission provides Fulbright grants to French and American scholars, young professionals and students wishing to expand their educational experience during a year in the host country. Those who receive awards from the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board are expected to become involved in the community in their host countries, helping to establish long-term cooperative relationships.
Fulbright award winners, numbering around 300,000 in the 60 years since the program's inception, have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes and have gone on to become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers.
Medina also earned the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2007, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2008, and the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011.
"I am extremely proud of Professor Medina's accomplishments," said Juan C. Meza, dean of UC Merced's School of Natural Sciences . "The Fulbright award is only the latest validation of the high quality of her work, and I look forward to the results of the exciting and important research it will allow her to conduct."