NEXT Innovation Scholar chosen for Fulbright UK Summer Institute

UC student Max Kemats will explore innovation in Scotland

Max Kemats, a rising third-year economics major with a minor in public health and a certificate in innovation and design thinking, has been selected for the Fulbright UK Summer Institute in Scotland. 

Headshot of UC student Max Kemats, he is smiling while sitting with his legs crossed on a bright green chair. His arms are crossed, showing a tattoo on his forearm that says "CERTAIN OF NOTHING."

Max Kemats, a rising third-year economics major with a minor in public health and a certificate in innovation and design thinking, will explore innovation in Scotland. Photo/Kathleen Hornstra

The Fulbright UK Summer Institutes are three-to-four-week programs for U.S. undergraduate students who have no or very little travel experience outside of North America. The Scotland program, based in the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde, focuses on technology, innovation and creativity.

This award is a testament to Kemats’ innovative approach to education and his dedication to fostering creativity and interdisciplinary learning.

“I could not be more excited for Max. His enthusiasm for innovation and creativity makes him a perfect fit for this UK Summer Institute,” said Dr. Jenny Hyest, director of the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (NCA).

Aaron Bradley, director of the NEXT Innovation Scholars program and associate professor in the college of cooperative education and professional studies, echoed Hyest’s enthusiasm and looks forward to what this experience will mean for Kemats’ growth.

“Max is the perfect student ambassador for innovation at UC, and I’m excited to see what he brings back to our program and community from this experience,” said Bradley. “We’re all so incredibly proud of Max for this accomplishment! He’s consistently put in the work to develop his innovation toolkit over the past 2 years and has a growth mindset that truly embodies what it means to be a scholar.”

Max Kemats writes on a whiteboard with a red dry erase marker. There are many colorful sticky notes covering the whiteboard.

Max Kemats writes on a whiteboard at the 1819 Innovation Hub. Photo/Kathleen Hornstra

Starting local and going global

Kemats’ collegiate journey has been marked by a deep commitment to interdisciplinary learning and innovation—in fact, it’s why he chose UC in the first place.

“For me, it’s all about being able to get a wide, transdisciplinary approach to my degree,” he said.

Even in high school, Kemats’ inventive mindset was evident; he and his friends established a creative collective in their rural Appalachian hometown to provide a platform for alternative multidisciplinary artists. At UC, Kemats expanded his work, co-oping in the 1819 Innovation Hub, facilitating innovation workshops and taking the lead on an inaugural Future Creators report.

The Fulbright UK Summer Institutes will not be Kemats’ first international experience, as UC’s innovation programs recognize the inherent need for global networking in order to solve the world’s most complex problems.

In his second year at UC, Kemats took an innovation course—taught by Bradley—built around the premise of thinking globally and acting locally. Ten students from Cincinnati, including Kemats, worked virtually with ten students from Montreal, Canada on a social integration project. At the end of the semester, the UC students traveled to Montreal to collaborate with their Canadian classmates.

“That was my first time really working on a team that had an immersive, cultural feeling,” Kemats explained.

Kemats is also a member of the University Innovation Fellows program, an initiative run by Stanford University’s During this past spring semester, the program held a global meetup conference in the Netherlands, offering Kemats another occasion to collaborate with students worldwide and foster an environment of global innovation.

Through these immersions, Kemats recognized the value of expanding his horizons and looked for additional ways to connect with international innovation initiatives. By connecting with the NCA office, he found and applied for that next opportunity—the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institutes.

Sitting on the tarmac, waiting on his plane to head back to the U.S., Kemats got the email that he had been accepted to the program.

“It’s kind of surreal,” he said. “Six months ago, I would have never thought I’d be considered for something like this.”

Kemats looks forward to exploring the historical and contemporary aspects of Scotland’s innovative landscape.

“I’m excited to immerse myself in the culture and understand how the Scottish culture influences innovation and what is driving it forward,” he said. “I’m interested to see the wide spectrum of everything—from the past, to the present, to the future—and I hope I can get immersed in that side of things.”

His involvement and insights gathered from his time in Glasgow are bound to further enrich his already impressive academic portfolio.

“This particular institute in Scotland will give Max a chance to explore the questions that are most important to him in a new cultural environment and bring back what he learns to his innovation work at UC,” said Hyest.

Since Kemats is only a second-year student, his future is wide open. Only time—and travel—will tell what innovations he will come up with next.

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The University of Cincinnati prepares our students to make a real-world impact. Learn more about experiential learning opportunities through study abroad and nationally competitive awards.

Student interview by Natalie Ochmann

Featured image at top: Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland. Photo/Unsplash/Artur Kraft

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