10 Recent Amherst Graduates Win Fulbright Fellowships
June 6, 2011
AMHERST, Mass. — Ten recent Amherst College graduates have won J. William Fulbright Fellowships to study and teach abroad during the 2011–12 academic year.
“This year, 22 of our 39 Fulbright applicants were selected as finalists by the Fulbright program,” said Denise Gagnon, the college’s fellowships coordinator. “Currently, 10 applicants have heard that they’ve been offered fellowships.” Five of these are research fellowships, through which the recipients will study stolen art in Germany, disease ecology in Finland, neuroscience in Sweden, climate change in Portugal and post-conflict government in Kosovo. The other five Fulbright winners have English teaching assistantships in France, Ukraine, Morocco, South Korea and Taiwan. “We are pleased that so many Amherst graduates will be actively participating in this positive cultural exchange,” Gagnon said.
According to the program’s website, Congress established the Fulbright Program in 1946 “to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges.” Sen. J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, saw scholarship as an alternative to armed conflict. Today the program is funded by an annual Congressional appropriation and contributions from other participating countries, allowing Americans to teach or conduct research in more than 100 nations.
The winners from Amherst this year include Kristen Ahye ’11, Emily Dick ’11, David Emmerman ’11, Arielle Greenbaum ’11, Andrew Halterman ’11, Richard “Felix” Horns ’11, Clare Howard ’10, John McGrail ’11, Alexander Miller ’10 and Eliza Peabody ’11.
What follows is some brief information on the 10 Fulbright winners and their plans.
Kristen Ahye ’11, a New York City native, will use her Fulbright grant to teach English in Morocco. As an undergraduate, she double-majored in history and French, tutored Amherst students in introductory French classes, studied for a semester in France (during which time she helped teach English at a Paris high school) and wrote her senior thesis on representations of North African immigrants in France. “I have developed a consistent desire to explore issues from multiple perspectives,” she wrote in her application. “Knowing what I do about the impact (political, social, culinary, artistic) that Morocco and its emigrants have had on France, I am equally interested in exploring the influence of French culture in Morocco.” Ahye was also the captain of the Amherst College Equestrian Team. A former volunteer SAT tutor to underserved students in the Bronx, she plans to earn a master’s degree in education after her Fulbright year and to dedicate her future to teaching.
Emily Dick ’11, of Washington, D.C., has won a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to Taiwan. She is already an intermediate speaker of Mandarin Chinese, thanks to classes at Amherst and a six-month intensive language-study program at Beijing Foreign Studies University. At Amherst, she was a history major, an admissions tour guide and a class senator and ran for the varsity track and field team during her first and sophomore years. She was also involved with environmental causes, serving as treasurer of the Green Amherst Project and winning fellowship and grant money from the college to support her internships at environmental organizations in Washington. A former co-leader of The Pipeline Program, through which Amherst students tutor local schoolchildren, Dick hopes to help foster greater cooperation between Asia and the U.S. by first enrolling in a graduate program for international relations or law and then going to work for the government or a nonprofit.
David Emmerman '11, of Chapel Hill, N.C., has received a Fulbright grant for research into the Portuguese National Energy Strategy—the ambitious policy that has greatly increased Portugal’s production of renewable energy. He will work with Professor José Manso at the Universidade da Beira Interior to examine the policy's design, results and political history, with the goal of determining what the United States could learn in future renewable energy policy development. “Climate change is one of the largest problems facing humanity, and I have come to realize that helping to solve it is my life’s work,” Emmerman wrote in his application. As an undergraduate, the political science and environmental studies major chaired the Green Amherst Project, served as regional coordinator for Students for a Just and Stable Future (a Massachusetts-wide student network for climate action) and worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. He also conducted a month-long independent study of deforestation and agroforestry during a semester in Ecuador—and the project grew into his senior thesis. After his Fulbright year, he will return to the U.S. to accept a deferred position in the Teach For America corps, where he hopes to start an environmental education program, before enrolling in a dual-degree graduate program in environmental law and policy.
Arielle Greenbaum ’11, of Charlotte, Vt., has won Fulbright funding to study law under Professor Gerhard Werle at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, examining the methodologies and legacies of the expropriation of art by the Nazis. Greenbaum discovered, while at Amherst, that this subject brought together her longtime interests in German studies, jurisprudence and art history, and it became the topic of her interdisciplinary senior thesis. Greenbaum worked as a research assistant for art history professor Nicola Courtright and curatorial assistant for European art at the Mead Art Museum. She studied for a semester at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art. She plans to become an art attorney and to maintain her focus on claims associated with World War II.
Andrew Halterman ’11, of Norman, Okla., will use his Fulbright funding to travel to Kosovo—“the world’s newest state”—and study the effects of international post-conflict involvement on the legitimacy of Kosovar government and civil society since 1999. While an undergraduate, Halterman conducted research in Kosovo and Turkey for his honors thesis in political science. He was a research assistant to Professor Amrita Basu, a member of Amherst’s Ultimate Frisbee team and Men’s Glee Club and president of the Humphries Co-Op dormitory (“The Zü”). Halterman aspires to earn a Ph.D. in political science and to work in American government or academia.
Felix Horns ’11, of San Marino, Calif., has a Fulbright fellowship to support biological research with Dr. Anna-Liisa Laine of the Metapopulation Research Group at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Dr. Laine’s lab studies a plant called Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) and its interactions with a pathogen called Podosphaera plantaginis (which causes “powdery mildew”). Horns’ project will explore the effects of the spatial structures of certain island populations of the plant (that is, how large or small, dense or fragmented the plant populations are) on how those populations evolve resistance to the pathogen. In college, Horns wrote for The Amherst Student, directed market strategy for the Amherst College Investing Club, founded the Amherst College Journal Association for Biological Science and completed an honors thesis in biology. He also spent a summer studying disease biology at the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Immunity, Infection and Evolution. He intends to pursue a Ph.D. in evolutionary genetics and to explore how the latest knowledge of disease evolution might be applied to medical practice and health policy.
Clare Howard ’10, from Newton, Mass., will spend her Fulbright year in Sweden, working with Dr. Jonas Muhr at the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research. Muhr’s lab studies how a family of proteins called Sox helps to regulate the development of neural stem cells; Howard will participate, specifically, in an investigation into the role that Sox plays in the development of tumors in the central nervous system. A neuroscience major at Amherst, Howard served as a Resident Counselor, a Mead Art Museum docent and the chair of the Amherst AIDS Coalition. She spent summers doing research at Children’s Hospital Boston and the NYU School of Medicine. Howard has spent the 2010–2011 academic year pursuing her master’s degree in biological science on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
John McGrail ’11, of Arlington, Va., has been awarded a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Ukraine. As an undergraduate, McGrail was a member of the NESCAC All-Academic Squads for both track and cross-country and was captain of Amherst’s cross-county team. He was also a double major in Russian and economics at Amherst, spending the summers of 2008 and 2009 interning at nonprofits and the summer of 2010 working at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Of his future plans, McGrail wrote that he is “interested in pursuing economic development as part of a nonprofit organization in Eastern Europe” and “strongly considering applying for a job in international relations, possibly with the United States Foreign Service as an economic officer.” He cited graduate school, with a focus on Eastern European studies, as another possible path.
Alex Miller ’10, of Sudbury, Mass., will teach English in South Korea during his Fulbright year. With a B.A. in English from Amherst, he has spent the year since his graduation working in the college’s Career Center and at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. His other teaching experiences have included designing and implementing a summer creative writing course for underprivileged teens as part of the University of New Hampshire’s Upward Bound program and working at the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice in Brooklyn. After spending this year as a teacher, coach and mentor in the Korean school system, Miller intends to bring his new pedagogical insights to Teach For America and ultimately to a long-term career as a high school English teacher.
Eliza Peabody ’11, of Alexandria, Va., will spend her Fulbright year in France, teaching English (and, she hopes, extracurricular sailing and bookmaking) thanks to a French government teaching award. It will not be her first time in the country: she worked as an au pair in Cannes after graduating from high school. Nor will it be her first teaching experience: during college, the English and interdisciplinary double major tutored her fellow students in French and worked as a teaching assistant in a local adult literacy class. A former captain of the Amherst College Sailing Team, Peabody has also given sailing lessons to children and adults. Her future plans include pursuing a master’s degree in social work and becoming a school social worker or an elementary school teacher.