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Pomona College Class of 2013 & Recent Alumna Awarded 16 Fulbright Fellowships

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Fifteen graduates of the Pomona College Class of 2013 and a recent alumna were awarded prestigious Fulbright Fellowships to pursue independent research or teach English around the globe. In addition, five members of the Class of 2013 were selected as Fulbright alternates.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is “sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and the people of other countries.” Over the last five years, graduating Pomona College seniors have been awarded 67 Fulbright Fellowships. Over the last 10 years, graduating seniors have been awarded 131 Fulbrights.

Fulbright Fellowship Research Grants

 • Lorelei Curtin, a geology major from Edina, Minn., will go to the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, to study sediment cores from lakes in the Fjordlands region of the South Island, using stable isotope geochemical techniques to assess the effect of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds on the hydrology of New Zealand. Understanding how wind patterns have changed in the past is crucial for determining how the amount of rain New Zealand receives might be affected by climate change. Her future plans include attending graduate school in geology and continue paleoclimate research.

• Martha Johnson, a linguistics & cognitive science major with a German studies minor from Delaware, Ohio, will contribute to the University of Dar es Salaam Languages of Tanzania Project by documenting Kihehe, a local Bantu language spoken by about 800,000 people in the Iringa area. Her work will include writing a basic grammar of Kihehe and producing a book of Kihehe folk tales through interviews with local consultants.

• Paul Kim, an Asian studies major from Buena Park, Calif., will conduct research in South Korea.

• Sarah Noll, a chemistry and German double major form Alexandria, Va., will travel to Mainz, Germany, where she will be part of the research lab of Prof. Wolfgang Tremel at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry at the Johannes Gutenberg University.  She will explore the effective design and application of the enzyme-mimetic nanoparticle, vanadium pentoxide, which has been shown to inhibit accumulation of bacteria, barnacles, and other organisms on the underside of ships and offshore platforms. She will focus on the synthesis, modification, and optimization of the catalytic activity of these metal-based nanoparticles. Her future plans include either a doctorate in chemistry or medical school.

• Joshua Propp, an environmental analysis/policy major from Glenview, Ill., will travel to Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, to research the future of solar energy policy in both California and Germany, with specific attention to waning public support for subsidies and high utility feed-in tariffs. He will also serve as a cultural ambassador to middle and high school English language classes through the Carl-Schurz-Haus.

• Miriam Shiffman, a molecular biology major from Pittsburgh, will go to Brisbane, Australia, where she will use sequence-based methods to study the gut microbiomes of native Australian marsupials. Her research will help fill in gaps in our understanding of the microbial Tree of Life and address how microbes actually live in nature: in complex, interactive communities. After the Fulbright, she plans to pursue research on microbial communities in the quotidian environment, from food and beverage fermentation to our own guts.

• Benjamin Smith, a chemistry major from Los Altos, Calif., will travel to Freiburg, Germany, to perform immunology research and study graft-versus-host disease, a deadly malady that can arise following a bone marrow transplant. The goal is to characterize the molecular and cellular signals responsible for the disease. Following his time in Freiburg, he plans to enter an MD/PhD program to pursue academic medicine and translational science.

• Erin Toothaker, an economics major with a Spanish minor from Portland, Ore., will conduct research in Peru.

• Amal Karim ’11, a politics major originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, will conduct research in the classrooms of Teach for Malaysia (TFM) fellows in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She will focus on the effectiveness of TFM fellows in developing long-term traits and mindsets in their students around academic achievement. She is currently completing her second year of teaching middle school English on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with Teach for America. Upon returning to the U.S., she hopes to attend graduate school to study public policy with a focus on international development and/or education.

Fulbright Binational Internship

• Joshua Rodriguez, an economics major with a mathematics minor, from East Los Angeles, Calif., received a Fulbright Binational Internship to work and study in Mexico City. Under this program, which focuses on building interpersonal relationships between future Mexican and U.S. business leaders, he will work full-time at a Mexican company or NGO and take graduate courses in business and finance. Following the program, he hopes to pursue a joint Master's degree in Business Administration and Public Policy and a business career that connects with Latin America.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships

• Nolan Ferar, an anthropology major from Portland, Ore., will teach English in Brazil. 

• Gabrielle Kelenyi, an English and Spanish double major from Chicago, Ill., will teach in Panama and research manifestations of multiculturalism in Panamanian literature. After completing the Fulbright, she plans to commit two years to teaching Spanish in Chicago with Teach for America, followed by graduate school.  

• Jennifer Miner, a Latin American Studies and Spanish double major from Berkeley, Calif., will teach university level students in Brazil and plans on working in the non-profit sector on social justice issues in Latin America.

• Rohith Nayak, a neuroscience major form La Mirada, Calif., will teach in Indonesia and plans to study rural healthcare in the country. Following the Fulbright, he plans to attend medical school.

Will Pitkin, an environmental analysis major from Middlebury, Vermont, will teach English in Brazil. He also hopes to work on amproject related to the environment.

Evan Richter, an international relations major from Kirkville, Missouri, will teach English in Brazil.

Fulbright Alternates

Dylan Gschwind, a mathematics major from Chicago, would work with the Center for Research on Activity Development and Learning (CRADLE) at the University of Helsinki, on the project “Mind the Gap between educational practices and digital natives," which will examine the development and changes in the minds and learning processes of a generation raised with technology, in a socio-emotional and cultural context.

Zack Kraushar, a sociology major with a minor in biology from Tenafly, NJ, would go to Prague, Brno & Terezín in the Czech Republic to conduct a qualitative and quantitative research report on three organizations that aid in Holocaust education: the Jewish Museum of Prague, the Terezín Memorial and the Museum of Romani Culture. He would then participate in JET (The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) and apply to a Ph.D. program in sociology.

Jacob Moe, a politics major from New York City, would go to Brazil.

Erica Storm, a history and chemistry major from San Francisco, would train in fine hand embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework and work at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which maintains Britain's palaces. Under the head textile conservator, she would conduct scientific analysis of Henry VIII's tapestry collections to better preserve them. If she does not get a Fulbright, she will attend Jesus College, Cambridge, for a master’s degree in history.

Naomi Wagner, a biology major with a Spanish minor from La Jolla, Calif., will carry out her proposed Fulbright research with a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, or German Academic Exchange Service) Study Scholarship. The scholarship will allow her to conduct biomedical research, focusing on elucidating the molecular mechanism of multiple sclerosis, at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes and a range of opportunities for student research, leadership and community service. Pomona College is the founding member of the Claremont Colleges.

NOTE: Pomona College alumni who have received a Fulbright in this round can contact Cynthia Peters (cynthia.peters@pomona.edu) to be included in a revised release on Pomona College's website.

Updated 10/28/13 to reflect the addition of three Fulbright recipients heading to Brazil, which were announced later than the others.

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