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Pomona College Tops Peers in 2007 Fulbright Fellowships, Tops Research Universities in Fulbrights per Capita

Pomona College leads the nation in Fulbrights awarded per capita and tops its peer liberal arts colleges in pure numbers with 27 prestigious Fulbright Fellowships awarded to its Class of 2007. Pomona alumni received five more, bringing Pomona’s total to 32 Fulbright awards.

When the original totals for college and university Fulbright awards were released in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Oct. 22, 2007, the University of Michigan had the most recipients with 37, followed by Yale University with 27, and Pomona College and Brown University each with 24. The next highest liberal arts college was Smith College with 14.

In a comparison of the top research universities and liberal arts colleges of awards per capita, Pomona did even better. Pomona received 15.5 Fulbright grants per 1,000 students, followed by Smith (5.4), Yale (5.1), Wellesley (5), Brown (4.2) and the University of Michigan (1.5).

Since the initial release of the numbers, three Pomona alternates received Fulbright awards bringing Pomona’s total to 27 Fulbright grants awarded to students in Pomona’s Class of 2007. In addition, five graduates from earlier classes received Fulbrights, for a total of 32 in 2007. The previous Pomona record was set in 2006 with 15 recipients.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities for recent graduates, postgraduate candidates, and developing professionals and artists to pursue research or to teach abroad, with the goal of increasing cultural understanding. The awards generally provide round-trip transportation, language or orientation courses, book and research allowances, and maintenance for the academic year, based on the living costs in the host country.

Among the Pomona College Class of 2007 recipients, 12 were awarded Fellowship Research Grants.

Allison Bailey, a biology major from Livermore, CA, will travel to Norway where she will study at the university in Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town of more than 1,000 people. There she’ll examine the relationship between migrating geese and plants in the Arctic tundra, and how they are affected by climate change.

Maggie Fick, an international relations major from Bainbridge Island, WA, will travel to Niger to study the changing role of women in Tuareg culture in urban and rural contexts. Following coursework at Université Abdou Moumouni (UAM), she will conduct field research in the capital city of Niamey and in several rural, predominantly Tuareg villages, as well as volunteer with a Niamey-based women’s rights organization called Tin Hinan. Her research will focus on exploring how Tuareg women have been affected by urbanization and environmental and political changes. She will also study Tamachek, the language most commonly spoken by Tuaregs in Niger. Following the Fulbright, she will apply to graduate school in comparative African politics or work for an African politics research institute or an NGO in the United States or Africa devoted to women’s rights.

Anna Gressel, a neuroscience major from New York City, will conduct a research project in women’s studies in Morocco.

Ashley M. Jackson, a psychology major from Seattle will study education reform in Cotonou, Benin. She will examine the implementation and efficacy of a recent nation-wide reform of curriculum and assessment that aims to replace rote learning with the development of skills. Using interviews and questionnaires, she will evaluate the reform and its effectiveness through the opinions of students, teachers, and other stakeholders in the reform. She also hopes to volunteer with an HIV prevention campaign in Benin. Her future plans include pursuing a masters degree in international education or public health.

Shayle Kann, a psychology major from Madison, WI, will travel to Canberra, Australia, where he will work with the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University to study an innovative business model to conduct and finance energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings. His research will focus on the economic and political feasibility, as well as the environmental impact of the model known as Solarization.

Brian Kastl, a geology major from Silverdale, WA, will travel to the North Island of New Zealand to study the eruption-triggering mechanisms of Tongariro Volcano in an effort to improve the accuracy of volcanic eruption predictions. To that end, he will conduct geochemical analysis at the University of Auckland to determine how magma mixing events triggered the eruption. Tongariro Volcano is situated next to the mountain that was filmed as Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings. He also hopes to tutor students in math and coach youth soccer. Following the Fulbright, he plans to attend the University of Hawaii, Manoa to pursue a Ph.D. program with field research focused on violent, volcanically triggered mudflows that threaten lives on New Zealand's North Island.

Lily Muldoon, a biology and public policy double major from Denver, CO, will travel to Kenya to study public health and tour three clean water projects to learn “best practices.” Her major focus will be working to continue the development and building of a water pipeline project in Kayafungo that she helped create in collaboration with community leaders and members, water engineers, Kenyan government officials and U.S. students. The proposed nine-mile pipeline will bring clean water to 10 schools, the region’s only health clinic, and hundreds of families. Currently, women and children walk up to six hours each day to collect water. Following her Fulbright, she intends to earn a masters degree in public health and a doctorate in medicine, with future plans of returning to East Africa for clinical work and in policy development.

Femke Oldham, a public policy analysis major from Vashon Island, WA, will study the “Policy Implications of Community-Based Water Projects in Mexico." In the three-phase project, she will work alongside professors and graduate students at the Colegio de Posgraduados at the Institución de Enseñanza e Investigación en Ciencias Agricolas, in Montecillo to perform research that seeks to answer the question: Are community-based water projects in Mexico a successful form of water resource management? She also plans to volunteer with a youth soccer league. Her future plans include graduate school in environmental policy in either the United States or the Netherlands.

Michael Piech, an Asian studies major from Holland, NY, will travel to Nepal to study the emerging and evolving film industry and its social and political effects on Nepali culture in the Kathmandu valley. How Nepali people and ideas are depicted by the film industry has political and cultural ramifications due to the widespread dispersion of films within the culture, especially among the youth. Currently, the Nepali film industry is seeking to extricate itself from the prodigious Bollywood system and form a uniquely Nepali identity. His focus is whether or not an indigenous film industry will strengthen traditional Nepali culture, values and morals. He also plans to volunteer at Raksha Nepal, an NGO which educates and rehabilitates women who have worked in exploitative professions. After the Fulbright, he plans to attend graduate school.

Lauren Robinson, a media studies major from Los Angeles, will travel to New Zealand to study the methods used to curate Maori art exhibits at Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. She will also take courses in museum and heritage studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

Reed Schuler, a politics major from Seattle will study mass transit and urban planning in Shanghai. Before his research begins, Schuler will spend four months studying Mandarin Chinese in Northern China, through a Critical Language Enhancement Award from the National Security Language Initiative. Beginning in December, he will research the planning of Shanghai's public transportation system, in the context of rapidly increasing car ownership and amidst preparation for the 2010 Expo. His research will have a particular emphasis on access to public transit for low-income communities and on the public policy mechanisms in place for responding to the input and needs of citizens.

Kelvin Sun, an Asian studies major from Overland Park, KS, will travel to Beijing to investigate the impact of information technology on China’s news media landscape. He is particularly interested in the forces that led to the development of internet news, its influence on the public sphere, and the future implications of how China is adopting communication technology to suit its own unique needs and situation. He also hopes to take some classes on global journalism and online communication at Tsinghua University's School of Journalism and Communication. Sun also received the Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award, allowing him to study advanced Chinese for four months before the Fulbright Research grant. Following the Fulbright, he hopes to enroll in either a joint journalism/law program or graduate program with a focus on East Asian Studies.

Laura Gamse, a social activism media/arts major from Arlington, VA, was an alternate for a Fulbright award to travel to South Africa for a project on filmmaking.

Fifteen of Pomona College’s Class of 2007 Fulbright Fellows were awarded grants to teach English in foreign countries:

  • Rebecca Abbey, a biology major, with an environmental analysis minor from Tucson, AZ, teaching in Indonesia;
  • Elizabeth Cobacho, a sociology major from Chicago, teaching in Brazil;
  • David DeBey, a psychology major from Madison, WI, who proposed to travel to Germany to teach English but declined the award;
  • Christopher Dinkel, an international relations and politics double major, from Victoria, KS, teaching in Malaysia;
  • Emily Durham, an English major, from Greensboro, NC, teaching in South Korea;
  • Kiyomi Gelber, an environmental analysis: race, class, gender and the environment major, from San Anselmo, CA, teaching in Thailand;
  • Benjamin Jenson, an international relations major from Minneapolis, MN, teaching in Hong Kong;
  • Laura Kaneko, a sociology major, from Whittier, CA, teaching in Spain;
  • Doris Lee, a psychology major, from Los Angeles, CA, teaching in South Korea;
  • Katie Lenhoff, a Russian and East European Studies double major, from Yorba Linda, CA, teaching in Russia;
  • Julia Longenecker, a linguistics and cognitive science major from Vermont, who proposed to teach in Brazil but declined the grant;
  • Alec Palmerton, a chemistry major, from Minneapolis, teaching in South Korea;
  • Alexandra Romano, a politics major, from Fort Worth, TX, teaching in Germany;
  • Samuel Stromberg, a math and history double major, with a minor in Asian Studies, from Denver, CO, teaching in Hong Kong; and
  • Min Yoo, an Asian American Studies major, from La Cañada Flintridge, CA, teaching in South Korea.

In many cases, recipients of English Teaching Assistantship also pursue individual study or research projects.

Among Pomona College alumni, five were awarded Fulbrights in 2007:
Christina Elmore, a gender studies and philosophy major from the Class of 2006, was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Vrutky, Slovakia.

Andres Gonzalez, an English major from the Class of 1999, will travel to Turkey for a research project involving photography.

Alison Jones, an Asian Studies major from the Class of 1998, will travel to Nanjing, China, to conduct research on the reconstruction of religion, specifically Buddhism, in that area. She is currently a Ph.D. student in sociology at Harvard University.

Sarah Schaffer, a politics major form the Class of 2006, was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Chile beginning March 2008. She is currently working for the U.S. House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee on Military Readiness.

Julian Wong, a biology major from the Class of 1998, will travel to China to research existing Chinese and international laws affecting the development of wind energy, evaluate their effectiveness and study the incentives or disincentives they create for various stakeholders. He will then propose improvements to the legal framework that will better facilitate the development of wind power as a clean energy alternative to coal. Currently, China relies on coal for 70 percent of its electricity needs, resulting in emissions that cause acid rain formation over 30 percent of the country.

Founded in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 250,000 students, scholars and professionals worldwide with the opportunity to observe each others’ political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.