Two students from The University of New Mexico are taking their studies abroad after receiving Fulbright Research Awards for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Emily Hayes-Rich received the Fulbright Research Award for her Archaeology project in Morocco; and Brooke Barrera Sheldon was awarded the English Teaching Assistantship in Portugal.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program. It offers opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate studies, enhance their research and explore teaching in more 140 countries. Last fall, Fulbright received a record number of applications, making this the most competitive cycle in the 75-year history of the program.

“It was in 2017 that I first encountered the khettara irrigation system when I was on a study abroad in Morocco with my undergraduate institution, Lewis & Clark College. The systems immediately sparked in me a burning curiosity as they so closely resembled the acequia irrigation system I had grown up with in Pojoaque, New Mexico. This intense need to understand the connection between the two systems has sent me on a journey that I could never have anticipated. It is an honor to be selected to return to Morocco with the 2021/2022 Fulbright Research Award to continue my quest to understand these irrigation systems and all of the questions and answers that they hold.”

Emily Hayes-Rich


Emily Hayes-Rich is an graduate student in Public Archaeology at UNM and received a Fulbright Research Award to Morocco. Her research focus is on the khettara traditional irrigation system. She hopes to be able to demonstrate the importance of traditional knowledge as a way of mitigating the effects of climate change in rural arid and semi-arid communities around the world.

This proposed project will use a combination of historical and anthropological techniques coupled with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis to help provide a holistic understanding of both urban and rural khettara systems in Morocco. Her project will take place in the Tafilalt oasis town of Rissani and the city of Marrakech, both of which thrived under the use of the khettara. In Morocco, she will be working with Jamila Bargach at the non-profit organization Dar Si Hmad and John Shoup at the Al Akhawayn University of Ifrane. Her faculty mentors include Frances Hayashida of University of New Mexico and Dale Lightfoot of the University of Oklahoma.


Brooke Barrera Sheldon
Brooke Barrera Sheldon graduated in 2018 from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in international studies and foreign languages. Prior to beginning at UNM, she spent her senior year of high school in Brazil as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, which fostered an interest in Portuguese and other romance languages. While at UNM, she gained a strong foundation in Portuguese by taking classes in the internationally recognized Spanish & Portuguese Department. Along the way, she took advantage of various long-term exchange programs through UNM's GEO and International Studies Institute in Quebec, Morocco, and Senegal. Shortly after graduating from UNM, she obtained her master’s degree in global studies from Columbia University in 2020, where she researched the social phenomenon of Brazilians converting to Islam. 

By participating in this Fulbright program, Sheldon hopes to strengthen her understanding of Portuguese dialects and learn about the histories that influence and affect the rest of the Lusophone world. She looks forward to the experience and representing UNM abroad.

Related article

Researcher seeks answers to climate change issues in ancient irrigation system