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2017-2018 Luce Scholars
Varun K. Aery
Degrees: L.L.M., University of Michigan Law School, (expected) 2017; J.D., University of California, Davis, 2016; B.A. in Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 2011
Nominating Institution: University of Michigan
Field of Professional Interest: International Human Rights Law
Growing up in a rural farming town in Northern California sparked Varun Aery’s interest in understanding how socioeconomic conditions affect access to important public resources. Varun started his college education at a local junior college, but the lack of courses in political science required him to venture to more urban locations to study his area of interest. Recognizing that attending these distant colleges was not feasible for all individuals in his community, Varun was already witnessing how limited resources in rural communities could impact career opportunities for local students. His supportive college professors motivated him to continue his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. While a student, Varun interned for Congresswoman Barbara Lee, whose commitment to addressing the needs of lower income populations and to eliminating HIV/AIDS inspired him to pursue a career in public service. During the UC Berkeley Washington Program, Varun interned for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to advocate for marginalized groups, including domestic abuse victims. After graduation, he became a paralegal with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to help prosecute cases of financial scams targetting lower income populations. In 2013, Varun began studying human rights law at the University of California, Davis, where he drew on his public service experiences to produce research to influence policy makers. As a law student, he published five articles in peer-reviewed journals advocating greater protection for the fundamental rights to human dignity, work, housing, healthcare, freedom from caste and gender discrimination, clean air, and marriage equality. His scholarship on the right to clean air enabled him to collaborate with leading international law and policy experts at the Northern California International Legal Scholars Conference to develop the normative scope and content of related environmental rights. Varun also spent a summer interning with the U.S. Department of State. Recently, he worked as the Senior Research Assistant to the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. He has also served on committees for the American Bar Association and World Affairs Council. To deepen his understanding of international law and economic, social, and cultural human rights, Varun is currently pursuing a Master of Law (LL.M) at the University of Michigan. On a personal note, he is a classically trained kathak dancer.
Melaku A. Arega
Degrees: B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology; Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Melaku moved to Portland, OR with his father and two younger sisters in 2009 at the age 14. He taught himself English at home by watching YouTube videos and studying his Oxford dictionary. He had his first dream in English 11 months into his new life in America. Four years later, he matriculated into Johns Hopkins University to study molecular & cellular biology and neuroscience on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. He spent his sophomore year at the University of Oxford, a choice inspired by his dictionary from high school. While at Oxford, he tutored English to a seven-year old kid who had recently immigrated to England. In Baltimore, he has volunteered for the Jail Tutorial Project since his freshman year, and now leads a group of ten GED math and reading tutors to serve detainees diagnosed with mental illnesses at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. On campus, he serves as a teaching assistant for more than 150 students for the Chemistry Laboratory as well as The Nervous System, a rigorous year-long course all Neuroscience majors take. As a co-president and vice president of Hopkins Ethiopian and Eritrean Society, Melaku organized two separate service trips to Bishoftu General Hospital, a facility in Bishoftu, Ethiopia serving millions of people within its 100-mile radius, and delivered medical supplies from the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He will start medical school in 2018, and aspires to working toward the global eradication of HIV. In his free time, he enjoys science writing, soccer, and reading books.
Sakaria L. Auelua-Toomey (Sai)
Degrees: B.A. in Psychology and Communicology, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, 2016; A.A. in Liberal Arts, Honolulu Community College, 2013
Nominating Institution: University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Field of Professional Interest: Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Sakaria “Sai” Auelua-Toomey is a recent graduate in Psychology and Communicology at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa. Born in Honolulu, Hawai’i of Samoan and Irish parents, Sai had an early exposure to the diversity of intercultural communication, which stimulated his subsequent research interests in how different cultures maintain effective communication with one another and how socio-cultural factors affect perception. As an undergraduate research assistant in the Intergroup Social Perceptions Lab, he explored the malleability of identity through its influence by culture, motivation, and situational cues, and how that identity affects intergroup cognition and communication. Sai also worked in the Minority Health International Research Training Program, with a biomedical research team at the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic in Bangkok, Thailand, where he focused on the impact of stigmatization on HIV infection rates in transgender women. Sai also studied individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and schizophrenia, as a research assistant at the Hawai’i Early Assessment Lab. For his senior honors thesis, Sai collaborated with Interactive Autism Network at the Kennedy Krieger Institute to investigate individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which led to his first publication in the Mānoa Horizons undergraduate journal. This was followed by an internship in the Center for Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. Sai plans to pursue a Ph.D. in perception, decision-making and communication, and leverage his research to facilitate effective intercultural communication in international relations. As a Samoan, he promotes greater representation of Pacific Islanders in academia and politics and has plans to create programs that support this goal while serving as a role model for Pacific Islanders. Sai currently serves in the United States Air Force, providing him a unique experience with a better understanding of the military’s perception of risk and how international challenges are handled. He also volunteers as the unit’s physical training leader and unit education advisor. Concurrently, Sai serves as a seminar leader at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a U.S. Department of Defense institute that addresses regional and global security issues with participation of representatives from the United States and over forty Asia-Pacific nations. As a seminar leader, he facilitates an environment for discussion and collaboration based on inclusion, transparency and mutual respect. When not working, he enjoys being active by participating in races, rock-climbing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and basketball.
Daniel J. Block
Degrees: B.A. in Political Science; History, Swarthmore College, 2016
Nominating Institution: Swarthmore College
Field of Professional Interest: Political Science; Journalism
Daniel Block is a recent graduate of Swarthmore College, where he majored in political science and history. One of eight students to receive their degrees with highest honors, Daniel was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and was the recipient of the school's Ivy Award. A native of Armonk, New York, Daniel has a longstanding interest in politics and policy both inside and outside of the classroom. During his college summers, he interned in the Washington D.C. office of U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand and on the re-election campaign of his congressman, Sean Patrick Maloney. After graduating, he volunteered on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In addition, he held various leadership positions in Swarthmore College Democrats and studied comparative politics during a semester abroad in Budapest. Daniel also has a passion for journalism. At Swarthmore, he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Phoenix, the college’s print and online student newspaper, where he managed a staff of fifty students and won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and Associated Collegiate Press. He worked as an editorial intern at The American Prospect and as a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer during the summers of 2015 and 2016, respectively. While working for The Prospect, Daniel wrote for the website, conducted research, and managed the magazine’s Twitter presence. As an intern at The Inquirer, he published over twenty articles on topics ranging from Donald Trump rallies to school taxes. At Swarthmore, Daniel worked as a research assistant to several professors, studying American political development, the ethics of war, and how globalization has shaped modern insurgencies. He also conducted independent research into the history of U.S. state constitutions, resulting in an essay that received Swarthmore’s 2015 Judith Polgar Ruchkin Prize, given to the best paper on politics or public policy. Daniel later presented his findings at the Northeastern Political Science Association’s 2015 conference. Daniel aspires to merge his interest in academia and journalism as a public intellectual, attuned to both scholarly research and the broader world. He plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative politics and writing about his findings as a freelance journalist. Currently, he is working as a ski instructor in Park City, Utah, helping children learn how to enjoy his favorite hobby.
Christina A. Cilento
Degrees: B.S. in Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: Northwestern University
Field of Professional Interest: Environmental Policy and Law
Christina Cilento is a senior at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she studies environmental policy and sustainability. Originally from Allentown, PA, she is particularly interested in climate change and energy systems and how these intersect with global social injustices. On campus, Christina has served as a core organizer of Northwestern's fossil fuel divestment campaign and president of the Associated Student Government, through which she has gained experience lobbying her administration and crafting policies that benefit the student body. In addition, she serves as the Student Advisory Board representative for the Program in Environmental Policy and Culture and was a founder and editor of Northwestern’s first environmental publication, In Our Nature. In 2015, Christina was selected as one of ten students from the U.S. to travel to the UN’s COP21 climate change conference in Paris, where she met with delegates from countries at the front lines of climate disasters, thus propelling her interest in global environmental justice and challenging her to critique Western approaches to tackling the climate problem. Christina’s campus involvements and her exposure at COP21 have inspired her to pursue a career in environmental advocacy, using law and policy to bring about social change. In her spare time, Christina enjoys perfecting her cooking, crocheting and knitting skills, all of which are, admittedly, limited.
Monique K. Claiborne
Degrees: B.A. in Philosophy, Princeton University, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: Princeton University
Field of Professional Interest: Arts and Entertainment
In May 2017, Monique Claiborne will graduate from Princeton University with a B.A. in Philosophy and a Certificate in American Studies. Growing up in the small southern town Opelousas, Louisiana, Monique developed a deep appreciation for local culture and the arts, despite limited extracurricular opportunities in her hometown. During her sophomore year at Princeton, she discovered her love for philosophy. Her independent research during her junior fall semester proposes a framework by which one can attribute moral responsibility to agents, and she spent her junior spring semester independently researching the ethical consequences of aestheticizing evil in popular films. Her senior thesis offers an account of the aesthetic experience that occurs when using interactive digital products, and it examines the ethical consequences of designing and interacting with empathetic technology. As a member of the Campus Iconography Committee, Monique collaborates with the executive vice president of the University and select professors, students and administrators to draft proposals aimed at diversifying Princeton’s iconography to better reflect the university community. Her primary creative outlets during her time at Princeton have been dancing and choreographing for Disiac Dance Company, as well as photography and filmmaking for Princeton Faith and Action. She also enjoys leading campus tours, coaching a youth basketball team and helping undergraduates and graduate students with written work as a Fellow in the Princeton Writing Center. Monique plans to continue studying the intersection of ethics, aesthetics and culture by pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. She also hopes eventually to open her own coffee shop, a space whose design will reflect its neighborhood and whose mission will serve diverse patrons.
Jillian L. Correia
Degrees: B.S. in Mathematical Economics, Wake Forest University, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: Wake Forest University
Field of Professional Interest: Economic Development Policy
In May 2017, Jillian Correia will graduate from Wake Forest University as a Reynolds and a Presidential Scholar with a B.S. in Mathematical Economics and a minor in Studio Art. Jillian developed a passion for addressing the serious health implications of food insecurity while volunteering for a Native American permaculture institute on the Kha’Po Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico. There, Jillian facilitated The Pueblo Food Experience, a diet-improvement initiative where tribal members eat foods solely indigenous to their region and culture, equipping Pueblo peoples with the resources and inspiration to regain their health and traditional permaculture practices. As an independent researcher, Jillian’s work examines political, socioeconomic, and institutional factors that influence food intake and human wellbeing. She first set out to uncover the complexities of the multinational food system in UK primary schools, where her extensive field work and ethnographic research revealed the intricacies of children’s eating practices. She has since presented her research at the 9th Annual International Conference on Sociology in Athens, Greece, and the findings, published in a peer-reviewed journal, serve as inspiration for schools and policy makers looking to improve lunch practices through grassroots change. Jillian’s subsequent research looks comparatively at food systems in the UK and Switzerland, and most recently, her work analyzes Multinational Time Use Survey Data to quantify time spent eating as a determinant of Body Mass Index (BMI). At Wake Forest University, Jillian guest lectures for Freshman Year Seminars and other courses on cognitive development, ethnographic research methods, international food culture and policy, and independent research processes and proposals. Currently she is President’s Aide for the Office of the President, serving as liaison between the President and the student body. She is also Associate Editor and referee for Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, where she promotes food systems as a serious field of inquiry by offering theoretical and editorial guidance. Jillian plans to pursue a career where she may continue leading efforts to address the serious political and economic challenges facing global food security. In her free time, she enjoys vegetable gardening, cooking, and creating sculptures and Raku pottery.
Joshua M. Feinzig (Josh)
Degrees: M. Phil. in Criminology, University of Cambridge, (expected) 2017; B.A. in Ethics, Politics and Economics, Yale University, 2016
Nominating Institution: Yale University
Field of Professional Interest: Law and Government
Originally from South Florida, Josh Feinzig studied Ethics, Politics & Economics at Yale University, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and won the University’s Roosevelt L. Thompson Prize for his commitment to public service. He is now a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he is studying for an MPhil in Criminology. Josh became increasingly aware of the need for criminal justice reform upon arriving in New Haven. After working with the police department and city government on various criminal justice initiatives, Josh cofounded Project Youth Court, an organization that takes trained high-school volunteers into federal courtrooms to serve as the lawyers and jurors in juvenile misdemeanor-offense trials. During one summer, Josh conducted criminal justice policy research at the White House Council of Economic Advisors. He has also done research for the Connecticut Governor’s Youth and Urban Violence Commission, and served as an appointed city commissioner on the New Haven Peace Commission, assisting in the application of restorative justice paradigms to policing oversight and youth crime. As a Yale Law School Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow, Feinzig worked as an investigator for the New Orleans Public Defenders as well as for a public interest law firm in St. Louis, where he independently researched the municipal court and jail systems. The results of his study on discriminatory and “debtors’ prison” practices were written up in the Newsweek and have played a role in ongoing class-action lawsuits. Through these experiences, Josh learned of residents’ deep-seated sense of estrangement from the criminal justice and political process, confirming that policy responses must foster inclusiveness in the criminal justice system to renew trust in government at large. Josh looks to attend law school, and ultimately guide the long-term reformation of the world’s criminal justice and prison systems through legal scholarship and a direct influence in policymaking. He is an avid hiker and rock climber, and enjoys playing bluegrass music as a bass player and mandolinist.
Benjamin M. Fleischacker (Benji)
Degrees: B.A. in History, Yale University, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: Yale University
Field of Professional Interest: History; Musicology; Anthropology
For reasons he can't remember, Benji Fleischacker requested a cello from his parents at the early age of six. Since then, he has devoted himself to studying the instrument in orchestras, chamber music and solo performance. Before college, Benji spent a year teaching cello at a local music school in Costa Rica, where he developed both a love of teaching and a recognition of the many musical traditions that children bring to the music classroom. Benji will graduate from Yale in 2017 with a Bachelor's degree in History, concentrating in Latin American history. Aside from his academic interest in the discipline of history, he hopes to use the context of Latin American social history to develop a music curriculum that better takes into account the backgrounds and cultures of music students. In college, Benji was the principal cellist of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, an avid chamber musician, and the business manager and a member of the all-cello rock band Low Strung, for which he arranged original covers of popular music. He pursues his interest in expanding the scope of classical music by performing in contemporary ensembles and premiering student compositions. In March 2017, he will be premiering a suite of seven pieces based on the Bach cello suites which he commissioned from composers at Yale. Benji has performed original research in Costa Rica on the national music education program for which he taught in 2012. Interviews with government officials, program directors, professional musicians, students enrolled in the program and their families demonstrated the discursive limits of classical music education. Benji hopes to bring a global perspective to the challenge classical music poses to local traditions, and the opportunities communities have to expand their culture through music education and performance.
Degrees: B.A. in Biological Sciences; Policy Studies, Rice University, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: Rice University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine; Global Health
Raised in a Dallas home by an Indian mother and an Iranian father, Cyrus Ghaznavi was imbued with the spirit of multiculturalism, which has been pivotal in granting him a global outlook later in his education, especially with respect to international health. Cyrus will graduate from Rice University in May 2017 with a B.A. in Biological Sciences and Policy Studies. While an undergraduate, he researched rotavirus infection of human intestinal cells to understand how reactive oxygen species incur robust interferon responses. His affinity for virology has earned him the nickname, “Cyrus the Virus,” which was especially appropriate for a class he taught at Rice entitled, “WWIII: Intro to Biowarfare.” In the same vein, he presented on the ethical dilemmas associated with dual-use biological research at Rice’s inaugural TEDx salon. Drawing on his experience as a researcher and global health enthusiast, Cyrus founded the Rice University chapter of END7, an international campaign devoted to raising awareness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and funds for their elimination in disadvantaged nations across the globe. Since its founding, he has traveled to Washington, D.C. annually to lobby for increased funding for the USAID NTD budget by speaking to congressional representatives. Recognizing the importance of policy in the advancement of science, he interned in D.C. at the Federation of American Scientists, where he researched legal trends in biotechnological patent law after a string of paradigm-shifting Supreme Court cases. Back in Houston, Cyrus has demonstrated a commitment to scholastic life at his university by tutoring his peers in STEM courses and general academic matters as part of the Academic Fellows and Peer Academic Advisors programs, respectively. Cyrus hopes to attend medical school, focus on infectious diseases, and build a career at the World Health Organization. In his free time, Cyrus enjoys trying new restaurants, listening to audiobooks, writing poetry, and studying Japanese.
Martha B. Isaacs
Degrees: B.A. in Geography of Human Activity, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: University of North Carolina
Field of Professional Interest: Transportation Planning
Martha Isaacs will graduate with honors in May 2017 with a B.A. in the Geography of Human Activity and minors in Philosophy and City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). On a full merit scholarship, she has spent her undergraduate studies analyzing the ways in which transportation accessibility affects urban citizens' mobility, from the unequal distribution of light rail routes in her hometown, Baltimore, to the lack of walkability observed in her current neighborhood in Chapel Hill. Particularly interested in participatory planning to increase social capital in neighborhoods, especially through accessible transportation, she has worked for the New York City Anti-Violence Project and The Glass-House Community Design in London. In the Fall of 2015, she spent a semester abroad comparing city planning practices in New York, Buenos Aires, Dakar, and Hanoi. She received research funding to study resilience in Durban, South Africa, and co-authored an article for the UNC urban planning blog, Angles, about the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative as implemented in Durban. Experienced in data analysis from her time as a consultant at Nelson\Nygaard, a transportation planning firm in San Francisco, she hopes to apply her knowledge of public policy and transit coverage to increase transportation options for disabled, elderly, and low-income communities. Back at UNC, she volunteers as a family mentor for the Refugee Community Partnership and visits incarcerated youth with Criminal Justice Awareness and Action. She also works as a Research Assistant at the Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill, developing issue briefs on bicycle and pedestrian traffic impact analyses. Martha is currently writing an honors thesis focusing on barriers to cycling in the Burmese refugee community in Chapel Hill, and will present her work at a session regarding ‘Immigrant Experience’ at the Association of American Geographers conference in April 2017. She is also teaching a seminar course on how the built environment affects place-based identity and concepts of home, incorporating her interests in photography, filmmaking, and music into experiential learning methods in urban planning. Building on this topic, she participated in the UNC TEDx student speaker competition, and was chosen to speak in the UNC TEDx conference about the privatization of residential neighborhoods in the U.S. Martha enjoys running mid- to long distance races and hosting a weekly radio show for UNC’s student-led radio station.
Cassidy S. McDonald
Degrees: B.B.A. in Marketing, University of Notre Dame, (expected) 2017
Nominating Institution: University of Notre Dame
Field of Professional Interest: Journalism
Cassidy McDonald will graduate in May 2017 from the University of Notre Dame with a business degree in marketing and a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. Ultimately, she plans to work as a reporter, telling the stories of marginalized voices as they interact with powerful policies and systems. In fall 2016, she traveled alongside columnist Nicholas Kristof to report on American poverty for the New York Times; she wrote about alternatives to incarceration, drug problems in Native American communities, and a billionaire who is quietly donating his fortune to Oklahoma’s social programs. At a summer internship with CBS News in New York City, she worked in the shooter-producer unit and spent many of her days “in the field,” booking interviews, shooting video, and solving last-minute problems. At an earlier internship with the 60 Minutes in Washington D.C., she researched a variety of topics including Russian military capabilities, gun death statistics, and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. She was its first intern to travel out of town for two shoots, coordinating interviews at FBI Headquarters and in Chicago, and independently producing a shoot in West Virginia. She began her career in Madison, Wisconsin as an intern at the local NBC affiliate, WMTV NBC15, and at Wisconsin’s second-largest newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. At the State Journal, she reported on gang violence, higher education, and city government, and wrote seven page-A1 articles in her first month on the job. At Notre Dame, she is editor-in-chief of the student newsmagazine, Scholastic, and manages a team of 24 (in addition to about 30 regular contributors) to produce a monthly glossy magazine. Recent issues have focused on the school’s sexual assault disciplinary procedures, campus-wide reactions to Donald Trump’s victory, and homelessness near campus. She also worked for Notre Dame’s sports broadcasting division, Fighting Irish Media, where she co-hosted an online, sports-highlight show and produced live softball broadcasts. She anchors during Notre Dame’s 24-hour webcast, “Notre Dame Day,” and is emcee of the school’s “Advisory Council” dinners, hosting dinner events for about 250 of the school’s top decision-makers. She first discovered her passion for journalism at age 17, when she got a job making videos at her local police department. This semester, she’ll raise money to fund a Liberian primary school class by (slowly) training for her first marathon. (She’s trying to convince her donors to contribute per minute, rather than per mile.)
Neil J. Noronha
Degrees: M.A. in Security Studies, 2016; B.S. in Foreign Service, 2014, Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Nominating Institution: Georgetown University
Field of Professional Interest: International Affairs
A District, Maryland, Virginia (“DMV”) lifer, Neil Noronha, a rising national security professional, grew up in Bowie, Maryland, completed ten years of education in Washington, D.C. (Gonzaga College High School and Georgetown University), and has worked in Arlington, Virginia. Neil recently left Federal government service, having worked since August 2014 in the Obama Administration. From December 2015 to January 2017, Neil was the Special Assistant to the Senior Director for Response Policy on the National Security Council (NSC) staff at the White House. He oversaw the presidential approval process for declaring severe domestic incidents as major disasters or emergencies under the Robert T. Stafford Act. Additionally, he served as a duty officer within the Response Policy Directorate, working with the White House Situation Room to inform senior NSC staff and White House principals, including the President, about severe domestic incidents, their impact on local populations, and the U.S. government response. Before joining the NSC staff, Neil was at the Department of Defense as one of its youngest political appointees hired under the Obama Administration. Under the Defense Fellows Program, Neil served as the Special Assistant to Michael Lumpkin, the former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict, where he was Mr. Lumpkin’s principal speechwriter and handled special projects related to counterterrorism, humanitarian affairs, and counternarcotics. Additionally, Neil was an Action Officer within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, where he covered issues related to defense cover and human intelligence activities. Obtaining his Bachelors of Science in Foreign Service and recently his Masters of Arts in Security Studies, both from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Neil interned at various Federal agencies and departments, a think tank, and a financial services company. He is passionate about solving transnational threats, such as terrorism, organized crime, climate change, and natural disasters, through economic policy and instruments. Neil is an avid basketball and football fan, consistently rooting for the Baltimore Ravens and Georgetown Hoyas.
Corey K. Ruder
Degrees: Ph.D. in Environment and Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University Vancouver, (expected) 2020; B.A. in Environmental Studies, St. Olaf College, 2016
Nominating Institution: George Washington University
Field of Professional Interest: Aquatic Biogeochemistry
Corey Ruder is a field ecologist working on the forefront of climate change research. She is currently finishing her first year as a Ph.D. student at Washington State University Vancouver, where she is studying how internal waves affect the production of greenhouse gases in reservoirs. She is a recent Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. As an undergraduate, Corey was selected as a Beckman Scholar and spent a year and a half developing a reliable indicator of agricultural runoff in lakes. She continued her research for an additional year in a follow-up project linking runoff to increased production of a lesser-known, but extremely powerful greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide. In addition to her extensive research on lakes, Corey conducted a series of ecological research projects in Australia, traveled to Japan to analyze the spread of radioactive material across a farm near Fukushima, and studied permafrost thaw as a research assistant in Siberia. She has presented the results of her research at three conferences, including a poster at the American Geophysical Union 2016 Fall Meeting. Her hobbies include SCUBA diving and recreational boxing and she is the founder of the Ole Thrift Shop LLC, a student-run business aimed at decreasing campus waste and promoting conscious consumerism. As a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Corey works to further our understanding of the drivers of climate change while increasing communication to the public and advocating for greater representation of women and minorities in STEM-related fields.
Elena M. Swartz
Degrees: M.P.A. in International Development, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, (expected) 2017; B.A. in Growth and Structure of Cities, Bryn Mawr College, 2012
Nominating Institution: University of Washington
Field of Professional Interest: Humanitarian Aid and Emergency Management
From Biloxi, Mississippi to Cape Town, South Africa, Elena Swartz has experienced the power of organizations working together to help communities in crisis. Elena is driven to help people find creative local solutions to complex problems due to humanitarian conflict and natural disaster. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Elena has worked around the United States and the world. After finishing her Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, she plans to work for a public sector agency building partnerships within post-crisis communities. She is particularly interested in the role that arts and culture play in protecting human dignity during crisis. As a two-term AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps Member, Elena helped communities recover from Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, in addition to community economic development projects. This experience inspired her to work with communities in crisis and to study emergency management and resilience strategies. She received a BA with honors in Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College in 2012. As an undergraduate she was named a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and received funding to conduct a two-year independent research project on the socioeconomic role of heritage sites in South Africa. Elena’s lifelong interest in heritage and the arts led her to study at the Headlong Performance Institute in 2013 where she created original contemporary performance art. Elena then helped build the administrative and financial capacities of small arts companies and programs in Philadelphia by improving their professional networks and organizational systems. Her work in government, non-profits, and private sector entities increased her interest in management strategies. She entered the Evans School to focus on monitoring and evaluation and management of international humanitarian work. In the summer of 2016 she interned with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland where she helped introduce system improvements to the Human Rights Council and researched human rights field operations. As a Luce Scholar, Elena hopes to gain field-level perspectives on Asian countries’ experiences and apply her leadership skills and creative talents.
Kadiata M. Sy (Kadi)
Degrees: M.A. in Islamic Law, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, (expected) 2017; M.Litt., University of St. Andrews, Scotland, 2016; B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, Emory University, 2015; A.A. in Philosphy and Political Science, Permeter College, Georgia State University, 2012
Nominating Institution: Emory University
Field of Professional Interest: Law and Social Justice
Kadiata Sy arrived in Atlanta, GA as a refugee from Mauritania at the age of twelve. Resettling in a new environment without any knowledge of English and enrolling in a school for the first time of her young life, Kadiata learned first-hand the empowering potential of education. Her experiences have motivated her to be a leader in her community and to continue to pursue higher education. Beginning at community college, Kadiata was elected the Student Government President of her campus and active with several humanitarian organizations in the greater Atlanta area, including interning for the International Rescue Committee and mentoring refugee youth with the Refugee Family Services. Her passion for social change and leadership experiences working with non-profit organizations led to her induction into the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society. Kadiata was also awarded the national Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which sponsored her studies at Emory University. While at Emory, she founded the Middle Eastern Studies Association and worked with Emory Peer Tutoring as an Arabic tutor and mentor to provide campus-wide programming on Middle East-related issues. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies in 2015 as one of four Emory seniors to be selected as a Robert T. Jones Scholar. This enabled her to complete a Master of Letters in Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian Security Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland in the fall of 2016. She is currently seeking an MA in Islamic Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where she has been elected as the Student Representative for the 2016-2017 Masters of Law program to serve as a liaison between the administration and student body. While at SOAS, Kadiata is specializing in the harmonization of Islamic Law and the Human Rights discourse. Her Master’s dissertation focuses on the appointment of female judges in Shari’a courts in Muslim-majority countries and aims to further her research on women’s agency within the Islamic legal framework. She aspires to work in the field of human rights in Islamic law as both an activist and an academic, focusing on gender issues while pursuing doctoral studies.
Bryan E. Vadheim
Degrees: M.Sc. in Climate Change Science and Policy, University of Bristol, 2015; M.Sc. in Economics, London School of Economics, 2014; B.S. in Chemical Engineering and in Economics, Montana State University, 2013
Nominating Institution: College of William and Mary
Field of Professional Interest: Natural Resource Management
Bryan Vadheim is an economist interested in natural resource management at the intersection of science and policy. A Montana native, Bryan has long been passionate about natural resources, and graduated with honors and degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Economics from Montana State University. During his undergraduate career he conducted a variety of research on natural resource topics, resulting in academic publications on low cost water sanitation using concentrated ultraviolet light and conflict mineral policy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as a patent in disinfection technology. Alongside his research activities, he also helped coordinate water and sanitation projects in rural Kenya with Engineers Without Borders, including on-the-ground implementation and stakeholder engagement. A 2013 Marshall Scholarship recipient, Bryan earned graduate degrees in Economics (with merit) from the London School of Economics and in Climate Change Science and Policy (with distinction) from the University of Bristol. As a researcher at the Grantham Research Institute in London during his studies, Bryan worked on spatially disaggregated econometric models of forestry in Indonesia and infrastructure in Ethiopia. Since 2015, Bryan has worked as an economist on natural resource policy issues at Vivid Economics, a small consultancy in London. He has particular experience in forestry and water management policy, but has also applied his engineering background to work on the integration of renewable energy sources into electricity grids. He is a co-author of the World Bank’s State and Trends in Carbon Pricing 2016 report, and has led the development of land use projects in Ivory Coast and Peru that utilise satellite imagery to inform agricultural and forestry policy. He works extensively with developing country governments and NGOs, with on-the-ground experience in Ethiopia and Ivory Coast. Outside of work, Bryan is an avid traveller, Ultimate Frisbee player, outdoorsman, and unapologetic burrito snob.
Sophia E. Wallach
Degrees: B.A. in International Studies, Vassar College, 2015
Nominating Institution: Vassar College
Field of Professional Interest: Alternative Dispute Resolution
A native of Poughkeepsie, New York, Sophia Wallach graduated from Vassar College in May 2015, with a degree in International Studies (Political Science and Economics) and a minor in French. During college, she interned at the Family District Court and Public Defender’s Office, where she witnessed the continuous backlog of cases and zero-sum approach to resolving conflict. Frustrated, Sophia looked for alternative forms of dispute resolution, eventually turning to the nationally recognized Dutchess Mediation Center. Sophia is the youngest accredited third-party mediator at the Center and practices in New York State. After graduation, Sophia moved to Washington, DC, to intern at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Africa Program, focusing on the policy aspects of peacebuilding, conflict management, and U.S.-Africa trade relations. She then joined the Federal Trade Commission as an Honors Paralegal in the Bureau of Competition. Early on, Sophia distinguished herself as lead paralegal on a major international consent merger and a successful hospital litigation. Based on her accomplishments, she was selected from her program to serve as the Bureau Director’s paralegal. This gave her insight into the larger strategic negotiations and international aspects of nearly every case. That year, Sophia also received funding to attend the 2016 International Transformative Mediation Conference. These experiences deepened her appreciation for the law and strengthened her conviction that mediation should be used to improve it. She plans to pursue a law degree, starting in the fall 2018. In her spare time, Sophia spends her copious amount of energy playing violin in a community orchestra, running half-marathons, and indulging her taste for French cheese.
2016-2017 Luce Scholars
Isabel K. Ball
Degree: B.A. in Psychology, Lewis & Clark College, 2015
Nominating Institution: Lewis & Clark College
Field of Professional Interest: Social Work; Human Services
Isabel Ball graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 2015 with a major in Psychology and minors in Ethnic and Latin American Studies. A dual Mexican and US citizen raised in the Arizona borderlands, Isabel is dedicated to working with immigrant and migrant communities and plans to pursue a career in clinical social work, supporting the reintegration of deported migrant children and families. Since graduation, she has done extensive research on migration trends and policies, border enforcement, and networks of migrant support in North and Central America, at the Migration Policy Institute and as a research assistant to investigative journalist and writer Todd Miller, author of Border Patrol Nation. As an undergraduate, she carried out independent field research on child-rearing practices among an indigenous Maya community in Guatemala and co-led an alternative spring break collaborating with local youth in rural El Salvador. Recognizing the importance of providing culturally relevant support, she has cultivated her ability to work across cultures at Arizona’s Child Protective Services as an assistant case worker and at the Immigrant Women’s Support Services of Australia. In her free time, Isabel loves to dance, bake, hike and take road trips.
Emily J. Dickey
Degree: B.A. in Anthropology, Willamette University, 2011
Nominating Institution: Willamette University
Field of Professional Interest: Education; Youth Empowerment
Emily Dickey recently spent a Fulbright year in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where she studied filmmaking at the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Digital Research Centre for Qualitative Fieldwork and created collaborative video projects with members of the Innu communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish residing in the Canadian Arctic. Previously, she worked for her alma mater as Director of the Willamette University--Chemawa Indian School Partnership, a service learning program based on mutual teaching and learning. Emily’s dedication to partnering with marginalized people to build a more just world through education has also been influenced by interning with the Institute for Policy Studies, where she designed a curriculum for survivors of labor trafficking that used storytelling as a healing and leadership development tool, and by teaching English to Spanishspeaking migrant workers in her hometown of Ashland, Oregon. Growing up in Southern Oregon shaped Emily’s commitment to the communities and ecologies of rural areas. She conducted research for the U.S. Forest Service, coauthoring a report identifying barriers that tribal members face when trying to exercise their treatyprotected rights to gather traditional plants on federal land. She currently serves on the advisory boards of Rogue Climate, a nonprofit working to help Southern Oregon transition to a renewable energy economy, and the Oregon Community Foundation’s Latino Partnership Program. She has previously served as a member of the Oregon Indian Coalition for PostSecondary Education and Willamette University’s Native American Advisory Council.
Grace L. Lawrence
Degree: Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Extended Media, University of Texas at Austin, (expected) 2016; B.A. in Sculpture, Guilford College, 2011
Nominating Institution: University of Texas
Field of Professional Interest: Art; Sculpture
Gracelee Lawrence will graduate from the University of Texas at Austin in May with a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture + Extended Media. Her work examines the systems and structures of control around bodies, in particular the female body, using food as a reference and replacement in sculptures, fountains, videos and drawings. She was a Principled Problem Solving Scholar at Guilford College, graduating with an honors degree in Sculpture and minors in Spanish and Art History. She is a Co-Director of Pig & Pony, a small house gallery which brings artists from outside of Texas to Austin for intimate two-person exhibitions, employing humor and diversity to rethink traditions of domesticity. As a contributing writer to the International Sculpture Center, she focuses on Texas-based artists, writers, critics, and curators. She has shown work internationally and held solo exhibitions nationally at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum in Austin, TX; grayDUCK Gallery in Austin, TX; BLUEorange Contemporary in Houston, TX; Saint Cloud University in Saint Cloud, MN; and Cape Fear College in Wilmington, NC. She is the recipient of the 2015 UMLAUF Prize, the 2014 David Womack Memorial Fiber Arts Scholarship, 2013 Eyes Got It Prize, and the 2011-12 Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant. Competing and training horses in dressage and eventing since childhood, Gracelee is a proud graduate of the United States Pony Club. She is an artist, writer, cook, traveler, macramé enthusiast, and lifelong horsewoman.
Elizabeth A. Linton
Degree: Master of Public Health in Epidemiology, Columbia
University Mailman School of Public Health, (expected)
2016; B.A. in Medicine, Health and Society, Vanderbilt
Nominating Institution: Vanderbilt University
Field of Professional Interest: Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Elizabeth Linton is studying advanced epidemiology at Columbia University and will graduate in May with a Master of Public Health degree. She is currently supporting two research studies at Mount Sinai Hospital as a research coordinator, investigating health outcomes for geriatric patients and predictors of inpatient mortality among people with sickle cell disease. Her interest in public health began in high school, when she organized a health activism project “Get Rich, Health is Wealth” in the streets of New York City, her hometown. This experience inspired her to study epidemiology to learn how to truly listen to people’s health narratives and translate such stories into research that could support population change. As an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, Elizabeth studied medicine, health and society (MHS). She conducted qualitative research and built sickle cell health maintenance tools for a hospital medical record system as a research assistant in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. Her work was presented at the 2014 American Medical Informatics Association Annual Conference. A member of the MHS student advisory committee, she created an internship/job database to enhance student access to non-traditional career opportunities. During a semester abroad in South Africa, she volunteered at the YMCA of Cape Town and helped design and lead art, science, and life skills afterschool lessons for disadvantaged elementary and middle school youth. A Posse Scholar, Elizabeth is devoted in her free time to mentoring first-generation college hopefuls through the college application process and volunteering at her church’s youth outreach.
Alexandra M. McDougle
Degree: B.A. in Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Mānoa,
Nominating Institution: University of Hawaii at Mānoa
Field of Professional Interest: Anthropology; Archaeology
Alex McDougle is an anthropologist focusing on bio-archaeology and forensics. In 2015, she graduated from the University Hawaii at Mānoa with high honors in Anthropology and a minor in French, and began working as a forensic archaeologist with History Flight, an American NGO focused on the recovery and repatriation of missing combat veterans. Conducting extensive fieldwork in the Gilbert Islands in the Republic of Kiribati, she supports the current excavation effort for American Soldiers killed during the 1943 Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theater. Alex’s interest in conflict archaeology stems from her upbringing as the child of an archaeologist and a military officer. As a high school student, she volunteered with the excavation of a World War II internment camp hidden in the valleys of West Oahu. While in college, she worked with the Ifugao Archaeological Project investigating upland rice field systems of Cordilleran people of Luzon in the Philippines. Her research addressed the potential of skeletal samples of children, leading to an undergraduate thesis analyzing the ways in which children of rice farming populations defied accepted understandings of population health during the initial introduction of sedentary farming, and underscored the need to include more diverse population samples to challenge generally accepted grand narratives of archaeology. As an African-American female, Alex is passionate about giving voices to marginalized peoples and increasing minority representation in academia. When not in the field, she is an amateur poet, coffee connoisseur and hip hop fanatic trying to make the world a better place.
Jessie A. Moravek
Degree: B.A. in Biology and Environmental Science,
Northwestern University, (expected) 2016
Field of Professional Interest: Environmental Science
Jessie Moravek will graduate in June 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Science and Biology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She is interested in ecology and conservation, and enjoys exploring nature along the shores of Lake Michigan. She has helped assess groundwater availability on a national forest in Utah, worked in a carbon laboratory at Northwestern to identify carbon sources that may contribute to climate change, and spent a semester studying salt marsh ecology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She was a “2015 Best Speaker” at the Northwestern Undergraduate Research Exposition, and serves as a representative to the Environmental Science Student Advisory Board. Through an NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship, she studied salmon conservation in Seattle, Washington. She presented this work at the Hollings Scholar Symposium in Washington, D.C. and a poster at the American Geophysical Union 2015 Fall Meeting, and is using the collected data for a senior thesis about salmon habitat restoration. Throughout her research experiences, Jessie has strived to connect with people and communities. She writes for the campus nature magazine In Our Nature and advises younger environmental students. She is also a member of the Northwestern University Marching Band and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Alyson K. Neel
Degree: M.P.A., Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs, Princeton University, 2015; B.A. in Political
Communication, Louisiana State University, 2010
Field of Professional Interest: Gender and Development
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Aly Neel is a feminist working on the forefront of gender and development. After receiving her B.A. in Political Communication at Louisiana State University in 2010, she spent two and a half years in Istanbul, reporting on gender-based violence and discrimination for Today’s Zaman, the largest English-language daily in Turkey, and contributing to The Washington Post and other publications. She returned to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. There she conducted research for UN Women on the barriers female UN employees face, helped build a coalition to pass campus sexual assault legislation in Louisiana, and helped reform Princeton’s campus sexual assault policies and practices. She most recently worked as an adviser on civil society engagement to the UN Foundation’s Policy Team in New York, and is currently a Women’s Policy, Inc. (WPI) Congressional Fellow, working on gender, economic, and health policy for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. Aly enjoys shaking up her normal routine, whether in the form of morning dance parties (now a thing in New York, Washington and Los Angeles), farming (which she did in Turkey's Black Sea region and Sardinia), or more recently, rocket yoga.
Kaytie N. Nielsen
Degree: Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in Creative Writing and
Drama, Carnegie Mellon University, (expected) 2016
Nominating Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
Field of Professional Interest: Filmmaking; Theatre Arts
Kaytie Nielsen developed a passion for storytelling at an early age, growing up at her family’s theatrical costume shop near Fort Worth, Texas. She aspires to a career in film and theater that create space for others to tell their stories and advance positive social change. In May 2016, she will graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts degree, with concentrations in Creative Writing and Directing and a minor in French and Francophone Studies. In 2013, aided by a Humanities Scholars Summer Fellowship, she wrote, directed, and produced a musical on feminism and civil rights in the 1960s, proceeds from which benefitted Traffick911, an anti-human trafficking organization. That same year, she undertook dramaturgical research on the 20th century Irish conflict in Belfast, Northern Ireland that laid the groundwork for a musical she later produced through Carnegie Mellon’s Playground Festival. In 2014, she completed a documentary on the history of Senegalese theatrical performance and served as a Media Intern for the Council on International Educational Exchange in Dakar, Senegal. As Director of Video Production for The Unexpected Laboratory, a young multidisciplinary artistic company, she led a film team to Tamil Nadu, India in 2015 to create videos for Visions Global Empowerment focused on uplifting disenfranchised communities. Kaytie is a filmmaker for the CREATE Lab of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, currently directing a documentary on the dangers of transporting crude oil by rail. She is in post-production for her senior honors thesis, a documentary film on Afro-French female identity.
Dustin B. Palmer
Degree: M.P.A., Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, (expected)
2016; A.B. in Political Science and in American Culture
Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, 2011
Nominating Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Field of Professional Interest: Rule of Law; Criminal Justice
In May, Dustin Palmer will graduate from his Master in Public Affairs program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Hailing from the small town of Lowell, Indiana, Dustin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011 with majors in American Culture Studies and Political Science. While in St. Louis, he worked for two years as a research assistant on legislative processes at the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, and as an intern with the St. Louis County Public Defender. After graduation, he interned at the U.S. Embassy in the Republic of Fiji and then spent nearly three years working at the National Democratic Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Since graduate school, Dustin has focused on justice system issues. He interned in Jakarta, Indonesia with KontraS, an Indonesian NGO dedicated to human rights and access to justice issues, completing an assessment of the nascent Indonesian national legal aid law. He is currently a graduate fellow in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, where he supports city-wide efforts to combat the school-to-prison pipeline and implement arrest diversion programs. He tutors incarcerated men at the Albert C. Wagner correctional facility on mathematics weekly. In his spare time, Dustin enjoys bicycle touring, mountain biking, and cooking inventively mediocre meals. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Public and International Affairs, and his writing has appeared in the Jakarta Post, OpeningParliament.org, and the Baines Report.
Jennifer L. Payne
Degree: B.A. in Ethnomusicology & B.A. in Neuroscience and
Behavior, Barnard College, (expected) 2016
Field of Professional Interest: Mental Health Care
Jenny Payne will graduate in May 2016 from Barnard College of Columbia University with B.A. degrees in Ethnomusicology and Neuroscience. Jenny aspires to a career in mental health that combines her passion for biomedical science, social justice, and anthropology to provide equitable and culturally informed patient care. Originally from Silicon Valley, Jenny began her work in community health volunteering with AMIGOS de las Américas in Rivas, Nicaragua at age fifteen. After her first year at Barnard, she returned to AMIGOS to run a 50-person project, collaborating with the Servicios de Salud de Oaxaca on public health projects in Oaxaca, México. Currently, she serves as the director of Nightline Peer Listening, Columbia’s student-run mental health hotline, and as a crisis counselor for the national text hotline Crisis Text Line. She also has also worked as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence at Columbia’s Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center and the Crime Victims Treatment Center, and has undergone over 200 hours of crisis intervention training. Jenny is entering her second year working for the Lucy Wicks Adult Psychiatry Clinic at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she assisted in developing a toolkit for clinics looking to improve their services to the LGBT+ community, and is focusing on enhancing access to services by incorporating mobile technology into patient care. Through Barnard's New York City Civic Engagement Program fellowship, she is planning a city-wide conference on student mental health activism to take place in April 2016. In her free time, Jenny enjoys analyzing pop music videos through a feminist lens, eating spicy guacamole, and playing the Japanese koto with the Columbia University Hogaku Ensemble.
Rebecca M. Peters
Degree: M.Sc. in Water Science, Policy and Governance, Kings
College London, (expected) 2016; M.Sc. in Poverty and
International Development, University of Manchester, 2015; B.S. in Society and Environment & B.A. in
Development Economics, University of California,
Nominating Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Field of Professional Interest: Global Water Diplomacy, Science, and Policy
Growing up on a river in the progressive corridors of Los Angeles fostered Rebecca Peters’ interest in a career that combines water research and policy. She pursued an interdisciplinary education, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 as the University Medalist with degrees in Society and Environment (B.Sc.) and International Development Economics (B.A.), and a minor in Global Poverty. While at Berkeley, she founded the Pachamama Project, which has continued to collaborate with water-focused NGOs in Mexico and Bolivia to establish gender and water programs in schools and maintain water treatment systems. She co-created and facilitated an undergraduate course on water and human rights, served as president of the Berkeley Water Group, and co-wrote a pamphlet on nitrate contaminated water in the Central Valley with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA). Rebecca received an M.Sc. in Poverty and Development Economics with distinction from the University of Manchester, and is currently a M.Sc. candidate in Water Science and Governance at King’s College London, both supported by a Marshall Scholarship. She is also a Truman and Udall Scholar. Active in water and community leadership, she serves on the Board of the Global Scholars Symposium, as a regional leader in the Water Youth Network, and is the founding Director of the Water Law and Security Programme at the London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP). In addition to her dedication to water security for vulnerable populations, Rebecca is an avid outdoorswoman and enjoys learning from different cultural traditions, especially by sharing meals, music, and art.
Anne M. Peyton
Degree: Master of Architecture & Bachelor of Architecture,
Tulane University, 2011
Nominating Institution: Tulane University
Field of Professional Interest: Urban Planning; Architecture
Annie Peyton is an architectural designer and avid urbanist. She is passionate about the intersection between the physical and social aspects of the built environment, and believes that public space and mass transit are catalysts for promoting social equity. She studied architecture, studio art and urban studies at Tulane University on a full merit scholarship, graduating with a Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Architecture in 2011 and receiving an award for her thesis proposing a new system of public transit and public buildings across New Orleans. Annie studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, whose highly functional integrated transit systems showed her the link between well-designed urban infrastructure and quality of life. She recently spent a year as a Global Health Corps fellow with architecture firm MASS Design Group in Rwanda, where she co-managed the construction of a primary school in a Northern Province village and participated in the design of the Munini District Hospital that won the Canadian Architect Award of Excellence in 2015. Annie is currently a designer with WRNS Studio, an architecture firm in San Francisco, and previously worked as a designer for Hart Howerton, an architecture and planning firm in New York City; a program assistant for the Architecture and Design program of the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen; and as a design and urban research intern for the Tulane City Center in New Orleans. She is an avid photographer, and unsurprisingly, enjoys exploring urban environments by bike, foot and public transportation.
Robert P. Rogers
Degree: M.A. in Political Science, L’Institut
d’Etudes Politiques d’Aix-en-Provence, (expected)
2016; B.A. in Philosophy, University of Michigan, 2014
Nominating Institution: University of Michigan
Field of Professional Interest: International Affairs; Public Health Policy
Rob Rogers is pursuing a Master’s degree in Globalization and Public Decision Strategy at Sciences Po Aix, the French institute of political science in Aix-en-Provence. As the elected cohort delegate, he organizes academic and social events and facilitates communication with the school administration. To fund his studies in France, he works part-time as a bartender, an English teacher with the Acadomia Institute, and as a freelance French-to-English translator. In 2014, Rob graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Philosophy. He was the president of the school’s philosophy club, and volunteered regularly at the World Medical Relief and The Freedom House in Detroit. He worked for three summers in Ann Arbor as a research assistant and project leader with the University of Michigan Health System, where he studied Project Healthy Schools, an educational intervention aimed at reducing childhood obesity in Detroit schoolchildren. He has presented the research findings in peer-reviewed publications and at national public health conferences. Rob remains passionate about the alleviation of global health and educational disparities. This spring, he will complete his master’s degree with an internship at the UNESCO office in Dakar, Senegal, where he will analyze the effects of an HIV education program in West Africa. In the long term, Rob hopes to apply his academic and professional experiences to a career at the intersection of public health and education policy. In his free time, he enjoys travel, snowboarding, studying languages, and craft beer.
Rebecca D. Schectman
Degree: B.A. in International Relations, College of William &
Mary, (expected) 2016
Nominating Institution: College of William and Mary
Field of Professional Interest: International Development
Rebecca Schectman will graduate from the College of William and Mary in May 2016 with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Latin American studies. She has worked extensively with AidData, a research lab investigating international development finance. Experienced in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, she has worked as a geo-coder to track the impact and effectiveness of foreign aid, developed methodologies to study governance reforms, and helped design field experiments. As an AidData Summer Fellow at UNICEF Uganda in Kampala, she piloted AidData field research initiatives on aid management platforms and citizen feedback data, the findings from which she presented at USAID’s 2014 TechCon. In January 2015, she worked as a Global Policy intern at the ONE Campaign in Washington, DC, where she wrote for ONE’s official blog and provided research support for Global Policy staff. While studying abroad in La Plata, Argentina, she interned with the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria, and documented human rights sites for the commission’s multimedia map. Rebecca has co-taught an English literacy class and now individually tutors adult learners at Literacy for Life in Williamsburg. She has worked with the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville as a family mentor to newly arrived refugees. An International Orientation Peer Leader, she has welcomed over 150 new international students to campus each fall. She enjoys competing in races with W&M’s Triathlon Club and playing violin with the Appalachian Music Ensemble.
Evan J. Silver
Degree: B.A. in Literary Arts, Brown University, (expected) 2016
Nominating Institution: Brown University
Field of Professional Interest: Theatre Directing; Playwriting
Raised in a vibrant arts environment in Chicago by a banjo-playing printmaker and an architect, Evan Silver developed a passion for creative storytelling from an early age. In May 2016, he expects to graduate with honors from Brown University with a B.A. in Literary Arts and a focus in Writing for Performance. A theatre director and playwright, he also has experience in film, photography, printmaking, painting, drawing, graphic design, fiction, and poetry, all informing his practice as a theatre artist. His work explores themes of human constancy and variation across time and place, as well as tropes and archetypes drawn from ancient and modern mythologies ranging from Arabian folklore to apocalyptic cinema. Evan is also a musician and composer, and his music – a fusion of folk, jazz and pop styles – often plays an important role in his creative work. At Brown, he has directed nine theatre productions and five films, many of which have been original works with original music. In addition to Brown, Evan has trained at Drama Centre London, the Yale School of Drama, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Second City, and Lookingglass Theatre. He has observed and experienced a diversity of approaches to theatre-making which have deeply influenced his personal practice. When not making art, Evan is doing his best to experience the world with open eyes and a full heart. He loves meeting new people and is an avid traveler, mountaineer and wildlife photographer.
Nathan M. Truong
Degree: B.A. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice University, 2014
Nominating Institution: Rice University
Field of Professional Interest: Education Policy
Born to Vietnamese refugees and raised in ethnically and racially diverse southwest Houston, Nathan Truong is fascinated by the effects of upbringing on life outcomes and particularly interested in the role of education in overcoming poverty. His enthusiastic teachers at urban and suburban Houston public schools kindled his lifelong interest in science and inspired him to pursue a degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Rice University. As a research assistant at Rice, he developed a diagnostic assay to detect diabetes for resource-poor settings. At the Baylor College of Medicine, he researched the genetic underpinnings of Rett Syndrome, a debilitating neurological disorder. He interned for the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at the National Science Foundation, where he authored Congressional reports and public media that analyzed the return on investment for basic science research. Motivated by the community service of his mentors, Nathan has tutored low-income Houston youth in science and advised his fellow college classmates as a Peer Academic Advisor. Currently an Instructor of Physics and AP Statistics and a Teach for America Corps Member at YES Prep Public Schools, Nathan is leading efforts to expand STEM resources for his campus and has formed partnerships with established Rice University and MIT STEM enrichment programs. He enjoys drawing and watching thought-provoking movies, and especially looks forward to seeing his first cohort of students graduate YES Prep as the founding class of 2016.
Jennifer Y. Tu
Degree: B.A. in Neurobiology, Harvard University, (expected) 2016
Nominating Institution: Harvard University
Field of Professional Interest: Geriatric Medicine
Jenn Tu is a Chinese American born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She will graduate from Harvard College in May 2016 with a B.A. in Neurobiology and a secondary concentration in Global Health and Health Policy. She served as co-president and summer director of Harvard-Radcliffe MIHNUET, which brings undergraduate musicians to more than twelve long-term care facilities in Boston for year-round concerts, and introduced a “resident performer” system that fosters longitudinal relationships between volunteers and their audiences. She also co-directed the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies, which matches students with Alzheimer’s patients for one-on-one weekly visits, and coordinated an IRB-approved research study to quantify the program’s clinical effects, which she later presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen. At Harvard Medical School, Jennifer has pursued two research projects focused on cellular modeling of familial Alzheimer’s disease and analysis of volumetric differences in brain regions among the elderly. By seeking out experiences in diverse social and scientific settings, she aims to build a deeper understanding of aging and related issues, including the incorporation of intergenerational interaction as a therapy for dementia and the elucidation of structural changes in the brain that occur with aging. In recognition of her efforts, she received Leading Age’s 2015 Great Minds Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award and the Creativity Foundation’s 2015 Benjamin Franklin Legacy Prize for Creativity in Service. Jennifer plans to pursue a career in geriatric medicine, integrated with innovative initiatives in music, service, and advocacy. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano and chamber music with friends, mentoring children at the Harvard Ed Portal, people-watching, caricaturing, and taking part in community runs.
Mohammad U. Zia
Degree: Masters of Public Policy, University of Oxford,
(expected) 2016; B.A. in Global Diplomacy and
Development, University of Maryland, 2014
Nominating Institution: Willamette University
Field of Professional Interest: Economic Policy and Sustainable Development; Islamic Societies
Born in Saudi Arabia to parents of Afghan and Pakistani descent, Mohammad Zia moved to the United States when he was six years old and was raised in Queens, New York and rural Kentucky. In 2005, immigration issues forced his family to move back to Pakistan but he eventually returned and became an American citizen in 2010. He attended the University of Maryland where he created his own major, Global Diplomacy and Development. He volunteered abroad with rural farmers in Uganda, marginalized youth in Senegal and Tanzania, and disabled communities in Morocco. He also interned at the U.S. Embassy in France and with USAID, and served as a legal clerk at the U.S. Department of Justice. Upon graduation in 2014, he worked as a short-term consultant with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel where he constructed a comprehensive database of over 90 legal investigations, and then spent a year in Jordan studying Arabic as a Boren Scholar and volunteering with Syrian refugees. Recognized as a Humanity in Action Fellow and a Truman Scholar, Mohammad aspires to become a leader in U.S. foreign policy advancing effective governance and sustainable development. He is currently a candidate for the Master of Public Policy at the University of Oxford where his studies focus on energy resources and economic policy. He speaks Arabic, French, and Urdu and plans to study Persian in the future. He hopes to learn more about the intersections of sustainable resource development, regional diplomacy, and Islam in Asia while studying a local language and enjoying the continent's diverse food cultures.
2015-2016 Luce Scholars
Sista Jakelin Bonilla
Degree: B.A. in International Politics; Latin American Area Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nominating Institution: University of North Carolina
Field of Professional Interest: Immigration Advocacy
Originally from Los Angeles, Sista Jakelin “Jaki” Bonilla grew up in Siler City, North Carolina. She graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2012 with a major in Global Studies and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Jakelin is an immigration activist. She founded Linking Immigrants to New Communities, which helps ease the transition of recent immigrants through student interaction and awareness-raising in the community, and served on the UNC Emerging Communities Taskforce that established the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, dedicated to developing a greater awareness of Latina/o issues, cultures and identities. Jakelin conducted ethnographic research and volunteered in Central and South America, served as co-chair of the Great Decisions Program, mentored in the Scholars Latino Initiative, and worked as a Senior Intern in the Bonners Leaders Program at the Campus Y, the oldest and largest student service and social justice organization on UNC campus. She currently serves as the director of the Campus Y’s Global Gap Year Fellowship. In Asia, Jakelin wishes to pursue opportunities to work with women leaders exploring justice in an intellectual and entrepreneurial environment.
Degree: B.A. in Environmental Studies, Westminster College
Nominating Institution: Furman University
Field of Professional Interest: Sustainable Development
Nick Clarke graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake City in 2012, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in French. After graduation he was awarded the Sustainable Technology Fellowship at Oberlin College where we worked with Dr. John Petersen, Dr. David Orr, and others on research around resource literacy, use, and conservation using data from a network of hundreds of real-time sensors throughout the Oberlin community. Since leaving Oberlin, he has continued his work in sustainable technology as a computer engineer for Lucid Design Group, a real-time energy and resource monitoring company. He hopes to continue his work in sustainable technology to help transform the ideals of sustainability into an established pillar of business practice and a cornerstone of individuals' lives. Nick's interest in sustainability has been fostered by a fascination with globalization. As a francophone, he has had the privilege to live and work in Paris, France and Montreal, Canada. In addition, he has worked as a volunteer in Haiti and Zambia. These experiences, and others, have impressed a deeply felt responsibility for global citizenship that directs his career and personal life today. Beyond his interests in sustainability and globalization, Nick is an avid backcountry skier, cyclist and mountaineer, born from a youth spent roaming the Wasatch Mountains and deserts of Utah.
Degree: M.B.A. & M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment,
University of Michigan, (expected); B.A. in
Geography, University of California, Berkeley
Nominating Institution: University of Michigan
Field of Professional Interest: Climate Change Policy and Planning
Jenny Cooper is a graduate student at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute, a partnership between the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Jenny’s graduate work focuses on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the intersecting roles of the private and public sectors, and in May 2015, she is expecting to graduate with dual degrees: an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment, and an MBA. Jenny is interested in urban climate policy and planning, and in working collaboratively with people across disciplines to find pragmatic strategies to drive greenhouse gas emissions reductions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. For her capstone project, she worked with a five-student team to conduct Detroit’s first-ever greenhouse gas emissions inventory—an accounting of all GHG emissions resulting from activities within the City of Detroit. The resulting report was published through the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems. Jenny is currently the manager of a peer coaching program for 30 students, and spent the past two summers working in environmental consulting, and urban climate and energy policy. She has been the recipient of numerous awards at University of Michigan, including the Dean’s Scholarship and the Dow Sustainability Fellowship. Prior to graduate school, Jenny worked at the Washington, DC office of the Environmental Defense Fund, a large U.S.-based environmental advocacy organization. During her three-year tenure at EDF, Jenny represented the organization at the United Nations climate negotiations, and worked closely with NGOs in the U.S. and abroad to develop policy to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and maritime shipping. Jenny graduated in 2008 with a B.A. (High Distinction) in Geography and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the co-founder of the Berkeley Project, the University’s largest community service event, and an active member of Cal Habitat for Humanity. In her free time Jenny enjoys rock climbing, cooking, and traveling by bicycle.
Degree: D.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism,
Yale School of Drama, (expected); M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama; B.A./M.A. in French, Bryn Mawr College
Nominating Institution: Bryn Mawr College
Field of Professional Interest: Theatre
Lauren Dubowski is a theater artist, producer, and teacher committed to fostering international cultural exchange and understanding through the arts. She is pursuing a D.F.A. in the Department of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama, where she currently holds a teaching fellowship and earned her M.F.A. in 2014. She was co-artistic director of the Yale Cabaret for its 2013-2014 season and an artistic associate for its 2012-2013 season, and she has collaborated on shows there as a creative producer, devisor, director, dramaturg, and/or performer since 2011. As a dramaturg, she has worked at Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale School of Drama, and with the Lucid Body Company/Impact Theatre in New York. Lauren is a founding member of the international theater collective Guilty by Association and participated in Yale School of Drama's summer program in theater for social change with the Baba Watoto Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2012. She worked with Headlong Dance Theater in Philadelphia for three years to help found and launch the Headlong Performance Institute, an interdisciplinary training program in performance creation, and she consults for Local Leaders/Global Lens, an international applied-theater and entrepreneurship program based in Los Angeles. Lauren's writings on art and culture have appeared on Culturebot.org and in the Krakow Post and Words Without Borders, and she was web managing editor of Theater magazine from 2012 to 2013. She has also worked as a grant and development writer for theater companies and institutions in New Haven, New York, and Philadelphia. Lauren received her B.A./M.A. in French from Bryn Mawr College and studied theater at Swarthmore College. She has been a Kosciuszko Foundation fellow at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, and a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellow at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland. Lauren grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Degree: B.A. in Anthropology and Law, Societies, and Justice,
University of Washington, (expected)
Nominating Institution: University of Washington
Field of Professional Interest: Public Interest Legal Advocacy and Teaching
In June of 2015, Varsha Govindaraju is expecting to receive her B.A. in Anthropology and Law, Societies and Justice (LSJ) with minors in Human Rights and Diversity from the University of Washington in Seattle. Growing up with immigrant Indian parents in Federal Way, a low-income neighborhood in Washington, Varsha is passionate about social justice and activism, and wishes to pursue a career as a public interest lawyer and a law professor. Varsha had a head start through the Robinson Center, an early entrance program at the University of Washington that allows students to start college early. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has actively engaged in community education and activism through various university and community projects. As assistant director for the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA), she worked with the campus community to create educational programs and to build a safer campus through bystander intervention and community support. In addition, she helped program large-scale events such as 5k runs and open-mic events for survivors to raise awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence. She also worked for Columbia Legal Services, a local public-interest firm serving low-income communities through legal education and legal support. Currently, Varsha serves as the Director of Diversity Efforts of the UW student government and manages SARVA along with eight other diversity commissions on campus, working to educate and advocate for equity and equal rights. Varsha believes in the power of education to disrupt cycles of inequality and strives to be a part of a world working towards global understanding and radical activism.
Degree: B.A. in Public Policy, Duke University, (expected)
Nominating Institution: Duke University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Global Health
In May 2015, Charlotte Lee will graduate with highest distinction from Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy and minors in Global Health and Chemistry. She plans to pursue a Masters in Public Health and an M.D., with residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She aspires to work on maternal and child health issues at the World Health Organization. Charlotte initially developed a passion for global health as an undergraduate, working at the Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER) in rural Kenya, where approximately one in three were living with HIV/AIDS. At WISER, she trained local research assistants for a study on the relationship between nutrition and cognitive ability and taught sex education in schools. She was a research associate and fieldworker for an epidemiological study in the Peruvian Amazon, where she also taught dental hygiene classes in Spanish to mothers and children in remote river communities. She was the Hepatitis B Policy Intern in New York City at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, which mainly serves low-income Asian immigrants and Asian Americans. While there, she coordinated and marketed the first-ever NYC Hepatitis B Awareness Week with NYC City Council and co-authored a successful CDC grant proposal to expand hepatitis B screening and to train general practitioners in the testing and treatment of hepatitis B. She loves to travel and studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey, where she learned about Middle Eastern history, culture, religion, and politics. She enjoys volunteering with Duke Hospice, developing relationships with patients at the end of their lives and supporting their families. She is also a volunteer ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor for Latino community members through Duke GANO (Gente Aprendiendo para Nuevas Oportunidades). She is presently working as a research assistant at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, where she contributes to international global health research by working to improve monitoring and evaluation strategies related to the wellbeing of orphans. She completed her senior honors thesis on the relationship between distrust of the government and vaccine refusal by performing quantitative statistical analyses on survey data from over 1,200 American parents. She is collaborating with researchers from Johns Hopkins and Emory to submit her paper for publication in the internationally acclaimed journal, Vaccine.
Degree: B.A. in Biology, Williams College, (expected)
Nominating Institution: Williams College
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Global Health
Sam Lewis grew up in a small town just outside of Albany, New York. He has been interested in health and medicine from a young age, and has conducted biomedical and cellular biology research at Albany Medical College, the University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, and the University of Washington, where he was a 2013 Amgen Scholar in the Center for Lung Biology. Inspired by the power of science, Sam aspires to a future when the benefits of modern medicine are shared equally across the globe, and all people have access to the healthcare needed to lead healthy lives. In pursuing his interest in global health and development, Sam has taken courses and acted as a graduate-level teaching assistant at the Center for Development Economics at Williams College, studied abroad at Université Paris Diderot in Paris, and worked as a research assistant for Innovations for Poverty Action in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso, Sam assisted in the design and implementation of a two-year randomized controlled trial studying the benefits of an agricultural inventory credit system, an experience that cemented his passion to reduce inequality and improve health globally. Sam has also explored poverty and the challenges facing marginalized communities within the United States, volunteering with the Washington D.C. homeless community and interning at an immigrant and refugee health clinic in Portland, Maine. Most recently, Sam investigated traditional belief systems, health issues, and environmental injustice in Navajo Nation as a Gaudino Fellow. Sam will graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College in June 2015 with a B.A. in Biology. He is the recipient of a Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship for study at the University of Cambridge, where he will pursue graduate studies in public health. Ultimately, Sam hopes to work at the intersection of global health research and policy, improving health care quality and access in low- and middle-income countries by implementing evidence-based policy. In addition to his interest in health, Sam helps lead efforts to increase institutional commitment to sustainability through his work with the Williams Environmental Council and the Williams Divestment Initiative. Growing up with road trips to the National Parks, Sam loves to spend time outdoors biking and hiking, and appreciates a good meal and movie.
Degree: M.Phil. in Politics, University of Oxford; B.A. in Government, Smith College
Nominating Institution: Mount Holyoke College
Field of Professional Interest: Politics
Aubrey Menard recently finished her M.Phil. degree at the University of Oxford with a concentration in Politics. Her thesis focused on extractive sector governance in Eurasia. She first became interested in the politics surrounding oil, gas, and mining while on a trip to Azerbaijan with a delegation of young professionals in national security. As the group toured oil fields and schools, hospitals, and various other community resources sponsored by British Petroleum, she began to wonder what impact such a high level of foreign direct investment had in a developing country. In graduate school, Aubrey explored these questions with a focus on the politics of former Soviet states and their political and economic transitions. In pursuit of her research, she spent the summer of 2013 as a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholar in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. Aubrey also spent several years working in U.S. domestic politics. She was the Associate Director of Development at the Truman National Security Project, a D.C.-based non-profit that brings young progressive leaders in politics, policy and the military together to articulate a strong national security policy. She led a team of three employees to raise the organization’s annual operating budget of $4 million. Prior to her work at the Truman Project, Aubrey worked on several political campaigns in New York, Virginia, and Michigan, and learned how to organize communities, work with volunteers, empower unlikely activists, coordinate with allied organizations, and gain buy-in from community leaders. Aubrey spent many years working as a volunteer and employee of the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, helping rehabilitate survivors of landmine accidents in Central America by providing them with prosthetics, wheelchairs, sustainable employment opportunities, and reintegration services. She was awarded the Ruth D. Tuttle Prize for International Relations and Peace Studies for these efforts. Aubrey was awarded the Kennedy Prize for Promotion of Democratic Values and the University of Indiana’s Everett Helm Visiting Research Fellowship. She presented her research at the 2014 Tamkang World Forum in Taiwan. She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society, was a Replenishing Democracy Institute Fellow with the Ford Foundation, and is a 2008 graduate of Smith College. She lives in Washington, DC where she is a political consultant, yoga teacher, and music blogger.
Degree: Management, Willamette University, (expected);
B.A. in Art History, Willamette University
Nominating Institution: Willamette University
Field of Professional Interest: Art
Christian Alborz Oldham was born to his Iranian mother and Iowan father in Woodland Hills, California during the Rodney King riots. In May 2015, Christian will complete a joint degree – a B.A. in Art History and an M.B.A. with an entrepreneurship focus – from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. A multidisciplinary artist, Christian incorporates temporary and permanent sculpture and installation, writing, publishing, video, still images and music in his artistic practice. Video and still image works have included commissions for popular groups Oneohtrix Point Never, Dirty Projectors, and Death Grips. In 2013 Christian received a Carson Grant to exhibit in Willamette University Hatfield Library's Private Collection Room. He has served as creative consultant to Yale Union, a contemporary art center in Portland, Oregon since its founding in 2008. His work has been featured in art and technology publications including Rhizome, Wired, and Massage. He has also produced a series of covers for de Appel’s arts and culture journal, F.R. David, and continues to serve as web designer for Aaron Flint Jamison’s Veneer magazine. Christian has practiced Japanese language and ikebana for three years, beginning studies with America’s only Ryusei-ha instructor and exhibiting work at Portland’s Japanese Garden. Most recently, Christian has engaged German designer Bernhard Willhelm in a collaborative effort to fashion humorous wearable technology.
Degree: B.A. in Political Science, Swarthmore College
Nominating Institution: Swarthmore College
Field of Professional Interest: Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development
Paul Shortell is an analyst of environmental and energy issues. Paul currently evaluates overseas political and commercial risks for U.S. clients at TD International LLC, a strategic advisory firm based in Washington, D.C. He previously engaged with a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors at the Inter-American Dialogue, a leading center for policy analysis and exchange on Latin American affairs. While at the Dialogue, he authored major reports assessing prospects for natural gas use in Central America’s electricity matrix and reviewing the challenges associated with Mexico’s landmark energy reform. His work has been featured in publications including the Financial Times, World Politics Review, Latin Business Chronicle and Forbes. His engagement with natural resource issues is motivated by a desire to shape more effective environmental policies and to improve development outcomes. Growing up in Atlanta during a period of severe drought, Paul developed a keen interest in water resources and worked with local NGOs to alleviate pollution in urban waterways. He went on to receive fellowships to research hydropower development and energy geopolitics in South America. At the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, he produced diplomatic cables on in-country environmental issues and participated in a major nuclear energy conference. He has also engaged in research and advocacy with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Generación Política Sur, Georgia Conservancy and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Paul graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College in 2013 with an honors degree in political science. A fluent speaker of Spanish, he has studied and worked abroad in Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica. Paul is an avid swimmer, classical musician and granola enthusiast.
Degree: B.A. in International Relations, Claremont McKenna
Nominating Institution: Claremont McKenna College
Field of Professional Interest: International Sustainable Food System
Laura Shunk is a writer and editor who covers the national restaurant and bar industry as well as the local scenes in New York City and, occasionally, Denver, Colorado. Save for a yearlong foray into strategy consulting, she’s been in the food and beverage industry for her entire career. She has managed national training programs for Chipotle Mexican Grill, sold boutique fine wine, and worked in the front of the house of restaurants. She has also provided media, marketing and branding advisory services for a variety of hospitality industry clients including fine dining establishments, wine and spirits brands, restaurant-related technology startups, and a restaurant-oriented law practice, both as an independent consultant and as a senior account executive with New York-based public relations firm Baltz & Company. For the past two years, she has been the editor of the Village Voice food section, where she has directed coverage and managed a team of 20 freelancers to carry out the section’s goals. Passionate about all aspects of the food community, Laura studied global food politics at Claremont McKenna College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She sits on the board of directors for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of impoverished communities and food banks in New York City.
Degree: B.A. in History, Barnard College
Nominating Institution: Barnard College
Field of Professional Interest: Policy and International Relations, Gender Equality
Amarynth Sichel is manager of government relations and public policy at ML Strategies, a Boston-based government relations consulting group, where she specializes in analyzing local and international political environments as they impact business opportunities for clients ranging from large corporations to small nonprofits. Prior to joining ML Strategies, she was an analyst for the consulting group’s law firm affiliate, Mintz Levin. As an analyst, she worked on a wide range of matters, including documenting political conditions in Guatemala to substantiate a client’s claim for asylum, drafting affidavits for victims of domestic violence, and closing merger & acquisition transactions. During her time at ML Strategies and Mintz Levin, Amarynth sought professional opportunities to work for women’s empowerment. For the past two years, she has worked with a pro bono client dedicated to ending teen dating violence, effectively lobbying the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a budget amendment that funds healthy dating education programs in public schools. While at Mintz Levin, she coordinated the firm’s signature pro bono initiative, the Domestic Violence Project, working with firm attorneys, women’s shelters, and legal aid organizations to provide victims of domestic abuse with free legal representation. Since moving to Boston in 2011, Amarynth has volunteered with Discovering Justice, an organization that provides supplemental educational opportunities for students in low-income schools. She also volunteers as a tutor and mentor, helping eighth graders from underperforming Boston Public Schools improve their writing skills and apply to high school. Amarynth graduated from Barnard College in 2011 with a B.A. in History, and a concentration in Rights, Citizenship and the Law. While at Barnard, she was President and Donations Manager of FeelGood, a student-run food business that raised money and awareness to help end poverty and world hunger. She also served as a Speaking Fellow at Barnard, leading interactive public speaking workshops teaching students to become effective communicators, negotiators, and public speakers. In her senior year of college, she was selected to help develop content for and teach the lab component of the college accredited course, “Rhetorical Choices: Theory and Practice of Public Speaking,” the required training course for all Speaking Fellows. A running enthusiast, Amarynth delights in exploring both her home city of Boston and new places on foot. She also enjoys cooking and designing recipes that emphasize locally sourced ingredients.
Degree: Ph.D. in Cardiac Tissue Engineering, Imperial College
London, (expected); B.S.E. in Biomedical
Engineering, Duke University
Nominating Institution: Duke University
Field of Professional Interest: Biomedical Engineering, Medicine
Alessondra Speidel is interested in the intersections of research, engineering, commercialization and policy in a medical context. She will complete her Ph.D. studies on heart regeneration at Imperial College London in June 2015. Her Ph.D. project, funded by the Marshall Scholarship and Rosetrees Trust, explores strategies for imaging, understanding and improving heart tissue regeneration after heart injury. Alessondra graduated with Distinction in Biomedical Engineering and a Howard G. Clark Award for excellence in research from Duke University, obtaining a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry in 2011. As a Pratt Fellow at Duke, she published her research on the optimization of drug delivery methods, focusing on how cells respond to their surface environments. Through her immersive Collegiate Athletic Premedical Experience (CAPE) internship shadowing various surgical, clinical, and laboratory medicine professionals at the Duke University Medical Center, she fostered and developed her interest in medicine. Outside of her academic work, she was a Baldwin Scholar, freelance SAT tutor and college application consultant, Duke University peer tutor, Imperial College student union steward and bar staff member, Ph.D. Department committee member, Biomedical Young Entrepreneurs Scheme’s best healthcare business plan winner, and member of the Duke Varsity Swim Team. Before continuing on to medical school, Alessondra is interested in broadening her perspectives on medical policy and exploring the considerations taken by organizations that regulate clinical trials. She also enjoys exploring different cultural and personal horizons through travel.
Degree: B.A. in Environmental Studies, Vassar College
Nominating Institution: Vassar College
Field of Professional Interest: Public Health
O’Mara Taylor is an advocate for community development and public health. She currently works in fundraising and programming at Primeros Pasos, a rural clinic in Guatemala, which provides medical and dental services with a focus on nutrition and women’s health. During a gap year before college, O’Mara volunteered at organizations in Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina. Through her work teaching sex education in the slums outside Buenos Aires and as a women’s health volunteer at a small clinic in the mountains of Peru, O’Mara began to appreciate the complexities of development efforts and became interested in community health issues. She went on to graduate with honors from Vassar College, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a focus in Public Health. During her sophomore summer, O’Mara worked at an inner-city health clinic in her hometown of Boston as a Summer Fellow with Health Leads, an organization dedicated to breaking the link between poverty and bad health. In college, she also sang a cappella and led the Vassar Women’s Rugby team to the Sweet 16 round of Nationals as co-captain, going on to break multiple school records and become a Division II All-American Player for the 2011-2012 season. Before moving to Guatemala, O’Mara spent two years working for the Environmental Solutions branch of FTI Consulting on large-scale pollution cleanup projects. During this time, she also volunteered with Do One Thing, an HIV and Hepatitis C mobile testing organization that works in at-risk communities in West and Southwest Philadelphia, doing neighborhood education and testing outreach. O’Mara plans to continue pursuing a career promoting women’s health education and access to contraception through community-led health initiatives. When not at the clinic or assisting with workshops in the field, she can be found hiking nearby mountains, playing guitar, and finding ways to add avocado to every single meal.
Degree: M. Phil in European Politics and Society, University of
Oxford, (expected); B.A. in German Studies and Political Science, Furman University
Nominating Institution: Furman University
Field of Professional Interest: Human Rights and Social Inequality
Brandon Tensley is from a lively black community in the oft-maligned state of South Carolina. At the moment, however, he is an M.Phil. candidate in Politics (European Politics and Society) at the University of Oxford, where his core interests lie at the intersection of minority politics (including LGBTQ rights) and nationalism in Europe. Outside of class Brandon is co-editor of EUspeak and Politics in Spires, two of the university’s online international affairs publications. His work has appeared in Time and The Week. Last year Brandon was one of six Oxford graduate students who were selected to represent Oxford at The Europaeum, a series of discussions at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on some of the challenges confronting Europe today. Before graduate school he was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, where he taught a range of bilingual classes to middle and high schoolers in the urban Ruhr area and researched modern Germany’s particular brand of multiculturalism and treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. And prior to his Fulbright year, Brandon was an American Fellow of Humanity in Action (HIA), and spent a summer in Denmark and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He credits HIA with solidifying his passion for grappling with issues of human rights and social inequality. Brandon received his B.A. in German Studies and Political Science from Furman University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude in 2012. Brandon founded Men of Distinction, a local mentoring program for at-risk middle school males, in his junior year and stayed actively involved through college. He also enjoyed leading the university’s Model United Nations team to various competitions throughout the U.S. Brandon believes that context influences advocacy, and that exposures to other cultures will benefit his work in human rights policy. In his free time he enjoys trying to learn Briticisms, debating friends and strangers alike about cultural representations of feminism in pop music, and doing gymnastics – as a child he longed to be an Olympic gymnast.
Nicolas J. Thorpe
Degree: B.A. in Political Science; Environmental Policy, Rice University, (expected)
Nominating Institution: Rice University
Field of Professional Interest: Government, Environment and Energy Policy
With family ties to Venezuela, Nick Thorpe grew up in the Bay Area of California and San Antonio, Texas. In May 2015, Nick will graduate from Rice University with a double major in Political Science and Environmental Policy. As an undergraduate, Nick has focused on understanding domestic and international energy, environment, and policy issues and on finding workable solutions in the private and public sectors. For two summers, Nick interned in Washington, D.C., first for a non-partisan policy think tank, then for the U.S. Trade Representative in the Environment and Natural Resources Office, where he participated in the inner-workings of the federal government and learned about the utilization of trade policy to enforce environmental provisions. Through these experiences, he became fascinated by the relationship between local and central governments on environment and energy issues, and how they work together to meet international commitments. Nick spent a semester in Santiago, Chile, exploring Chile’s politics, economics and culture and conducting an independent study project on local environmental policy. He also had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey for a policy research seminar; to Guatemala for an international service trip; and to Everglades National Park in Florida for an Alterative Spring Break. At Rice, Nick has served as a student government representative, academic fellow, and orientation week advisor at his residential college, Lovett College. He has volunteered as the lunch hosting committee chair, executive board member and tour guide for the Student Admission Council, where he provides prospective students with a look into student life, academics and the college environment. With the ultimate goal of positively impacting people’s lives while protecting our environment in the process, Nick plans to pursue a career as a public servant and expert on local environmental and energy policy. Nick also enjoys watching comedic TV shows and movies, cooking Venezuelan food, playing tennis, and exploring craft beer.
Degree: M.P.P. in Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, (expected); B.A. in
Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Nominating Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Field of Professional Interest: International Development
Diana Won is a graduate student in international policy and development at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. As the daughter of Korean immigrants, she is drawn to international affairs, her curiosity shaped by her desire to understand why people, like her parents, leave their homelands, whether by choice or by force. At Ford, Diana serves as co-chair of the International Policy Students Association and graduate student representative to the Ford School Alumni Board. She also works as an associate at the Enterprise for a Sustainable World and the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Global Network, researching and strengthening global strategy to promote sustainable, inclusive business practices. She works to integrate knowledge across the global network which currently operates in 18 countries, and also to coordinate the annual BoP Global Summit. Diana is a consultant for the William Davidson Institute, investigating a key public-private partnership agreement between USAID and a large corporation. She also works as an intern at the USAID Global Development Lab, researching data innovations that help inform more effective development programming. This past summer Diana served as a political section intern at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, fortifying contacts in the LGBT community to support a long-term equal rights campaign and analyzing human rights and equality issues for indigenous communities. Diana graduated from Rutgers University in 2011, studying Planning and Public Policy with minors in Spanish and Women’s and Gender Studies. She researched community economic development domestically, contributing to Promoting Sustainable Local and Community Economic Development, written by Roland V. Anglin, and worked in Newark, New Jersey at the nonprofit and municipal levels. Her passion for travel was sparked through study abroad in Argentina and continued through her Fulbright grant in Bucaramanga, Colombia, where she helped build mutual understanding in and out of the classroom through contributions to Paréntesis on gender issues in Latin America and volunteer work at a USAID/Mercy Corps project to integrate landmine survivors into mainstream society. After returning from Colombia and prior to graduate school, Diana worked at Sheldon Lobel, P.C. as a paralegal, to better understand the intersection of business, law, and policy in zoning and urban development. Diana hopes to work at the intersection of policy and business to promote inclusive development.
Degree: M.S. in Organizational Change, Northwestern University (expected); B.A. in Psychology, Claremont McKenna College
Nominating Institution: Claremont McKenna College
Field of Professional Interest: Education and Nonprofit Sector
Lanier Zimmer is Assistant Director of Recruitment and Placement for the Golden Apple Foundation, a non-profit that gives awards to excellent teachers and prepares future teachers through a college scholarship program. In her first year, Lanier initiated and led three major reform projects. She streamlined the application process by moving the application online and created an online job board, which resulted in 100% placement for graduating students. Most recently, recognizing that the preferred method of communication for high school students is texting, she initiated the successful use of a texting platform to communicate with them. In January, Lanier started a master’s program at Northwestern University in Organizational Change, which focuses on leadership and organizational development, to further her goal of leading an education non-profit. Earlier, Lanier worked for three years in admissions for the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She recruited and provided outreach to first generation, low income and underrepresented students from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and led an expanded early outreach program for underserved 9th and 10th graders. Working in CPS, she witnessed the dramatic inadequacy of education for students in poor neighborhoods and the dire need for improvement. During her time in admissions, the University enrolled a record number of students from CPS. Lanier first worked with teenagers after college, when she obtained certification to teach English as foreign language through Cambridge University. She taught in a Basque public high school near San Sebastian. After the school year, Lanier was invited to lead the first ever summer English program and enjoyed creating a curriculum, introducing students to Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and sharing 4th of July traditions. In college, Lanier was the captain of Claremont McKenna College’s water polo team, perfected the skill of walking backwards as a tour guide and kept 20 freshmen alive as the leader of a wilderness orientation trip. She spent a semester abroad in Quito, Ecuador, where she lived with a family, took classes in Spanish, and interned at a daycare for children whose parents worked as scavengers in Quito’s city dump. Living immersed in another culture, speaking another language and gaining an addiction to ahi (hot sauce) constituted one of Lanier’s most valuable life events. Lanier served as Co-President of the CMC Chicago Alumni Chapter and recently joined the board of her high school alumni association. Her latest personal accomplishment was completing her first (and last) Chicago Marathon.
2014-2015 Luce Scholars
Jacob P. Bogart
Degree: B.A. in Globalization Studies and French, Ohio State University
Nominating Institution: Tulane University
Field of Professional Interest: Human Rights and the United Nations
Jacob Bogart will graduate summa cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi, and with honors research distinction with a B.A. in Globalization Studies and French, with a minor in Geography, from The Ohio State University in May 2014. He hopes to eventually pursue a degree in law, focusing on international human rights law, and work for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. While an undergraduate, Jacob was the president of Amnesty International at OSU, a delegate for his model United Nations team, a peer research mentor, a page at the Ohio State House, and resident advisor. His interest in human rights led him to spend a summer in Haiti, conducting independent research on how non-governmental organizations have affected tent camps after the 2010 earthquake. Jacob presented his research on NGOs at an international conference on sustainability in Hiroshima, Japan. While in Haiti, Jacob also worked for the Haitian American Caucus as a primary education intern, researching Haitian education policy and teaching English classes. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked for Human Rights Watch as an advocacy intern, attending the 21st session of the Human Rights Council. In addition to his internship, he had the fortune of working as a researcher for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea, co-authoring a report used as an annex in an United Nations resolution. Jacob spent last spring abroad in Paris where he lived with a host family, volunteered at a local non-profit, and studied French at the Sorbonne. After his year abroad, Jacob spent a summer at Princeton University as a Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellow. This spring, Jacob will have the opportunity to represent the United States on multiple occasions. First, he is travelling with USA-Maghreb Youth Debates to Morocco to debate students in French on youth-related issues. After graduating, Jacob will leave for Munich, Germany, where, as a Head of State delegate, he will attend the G20 Youth Summit, authoring communiqués and interacting with youth from around the world. In his free time, Jacob loves to read, travel, rap at karaoke, and eat cheese.
Benjamin John Chin
Degree: B.A. in Public health and Linguistics, Rutgers University
Nominating Institution: Rutgers University
Field of Professional Interest: International Drug Policy and Addiction Treatment & Recovery
Ben Chin, now 25 years old, has been in recovery from addiction since age 19. He is currently a senior at Rutgers University majoring in Public Health and Linguistics, and plans to pursue a law degree with his sights set on influencing public health policy both in the United States and abroad. At Rutgers, Ben has been a resident and active member of the Rutgers Recovery House as well as a leader of the Rutgers Mountainview Project, an organization supporting ex-offenders as they make the transition from incarceration to higher education. In addition, Ben has participated in a number of leadership development activities on campus, including the Rising Leaders Institute, the Leadership Quest Summer Program, and the Cap and Skull Senior Honors Society. Beyond Rutgers, Ben is a founding member of the non-profit organization Young People in Recovery (YPR), a grassroots organization that mobilizes young people to advocate for improved recovery support services. Ben has also completed an internship at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services, where he worked in the Office of Planning, Policy, and Innovation. In January 2013, Ben and a colleague from YPR established PTR Associates, a consulting firm dedicated to creating recovery-oriented solutions in order to address disparities in the delivery of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In its first year, PTR Associates has worked with both the federal government and multiple state governments as well as such nationally recognized organizations as Hazelden, the Treatment Research Institute, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This past spring Ben was selected as the New Jersey recipient of the 2013 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Ben wishes to thank his family as well as his mentors and friends at Rutgers for supporting him throughout his journey.
Joshua A. Cole
Degree: B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and French Studies, Boston University
Nominating Institution: Boston University
Field of Professional Interest: Global Health
Raised in a rich cultural environment in Atlanta, Georgia, Joshua Cole developed artistic and intellectual interests early on as a humanist and a scientist. At Boston University, Joshua pursued a dual degree in French studies and biochemistry and molecular biology. During summer 2013, he conducted research at the University of Pennsylvania where he characterized the effect of Flaxseeds on HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and the modulation of cell receptors vital to HIV entry. His results showed a reduction in HIV entry and oxidative stress in the brain, which may influence therapies for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Joshua also interned with Act-up Paris in 2012, which is the leading HIV/AIDS advocacy group in France that seeks to reduce the hardship of the AIDS pandemic. That same year, Joshua investigated malarial infection via Plasmodium falciparum at Tufts University where he identified four novel parasite ligands, which may contribute to the basis of a multi-unit vaccine. In October 2012, he presented his research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) where the American Physiological Society honored him with an award for his presentation. In addition to his research, Joshua also studied the mathematical modeling of HIV and influenza epidemics through the Outreach Conference created by the HSPH Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Through these experiences, Joshua has learned about the socio-cultural norms, local realities, and developmental factors that affect health around the world, which has inspired him to pursue a career in assessing traditional medical systems and addressing global issues of infectious diseases, malnutrition, and health disparity. He is committed to improving the health of populations through integrative practices and policies, such as the integration of traditional and allopathic medicine. As a humanist, Joshua has a natural inclination to learn languages. He enjoys speaking French, Spanish, and Portuguese and plans to learn Amharic and Arabic. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar as well as a Posse Scholar and mentor.
Matthew D. Cook
Degree: B.A. in Architecture, University of Notre Dame
Nominating Institution: University of Notre Dame
Field of Professional Interest: Architecture and Urban Planning
Matt is an architecture and Italian language student in his final semester at the University of Notre Dame. After a childhood spent drawing in and around the fantastic buildings of his native Chicago, Matt chose to study architecture and urban design in order to continue cultivating his creativity while working with and for others on a daily basis. While he loves the aesthetic puzzle of every design, it is really the human element of architecture that makes the profession so appealing for Matt. His studies have allowed him to travel extensively, and his enriching experiences both at home and abroad have greatly influenced his understanding of the role of tradition in architecture. From Rome (where he studied for a year) to China to the American South, Matt is most moved by traditional architecture and the story it tells about a people and their history. Most recently, Matt’s travels led him to Havana, Cuba, where he and his studio produced an urban masterplan for an abandoned waterfront site. In addition to planning several new blocks containing civic buildings, public space, and affordable housing, Matt also designed a 750 seat concert hall, faced in local stone, on a site adjacent to a primary public plaza. This semester, Matt will complete his thesis design for a winery in Vernazza, a coastal village in northwest Italy that was hit by catastrophic landslides in 2011. The winery will provide a link between the town and its natural setting, reinvigorating the traditional viticultural economy of Vernazza while making the land safer for human habitation by increasing cultivation. Matt has also been a lifelong student of languages; he started learning French at age five and began his study of Italian when he started college. He now has the pleasure of helping others pursue mastery of a language in his role as a French and Italian tutor at Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures. When he does (occasionally) leave his drafting desk, Matt can be found making music with his friends, either at the piano, which he has played since age five, or on the guitar his grandfather built. He also enjoys woodworking and is currently working on a wine cabinet to accompany his thesis design. Matt hopes that by looking to the past to generate design solutions for the future, his work will bring renewed awareness to the importance of tradition in architecture.
Joshua B. Freedman
Degree: B.A. in Public Policy, Stanford University
Nominating Institution: Stanford University
Field of Professional Interest: Public Policy and Journalism
Josh Freedman is a policy analyst in the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC. In this role, he researches and writes about economic and social policy in the United States. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Reuters, Quartz, CNN.com, and a variety of other print and online publications. Josh is also a contributing writer for Forbes magazine online, covering the political economics of higher education. He is interested in the philosophical foundations of public policy decisions and institutions, the intersection of the government and the economy, and the design of social insurance programs. Josh graduated with a B.A. in Public Policy (concentration: Ethics) from Stanford University in 2011, where he received the Ann C. Seminara award for Outstanding Senior in Public Policy and the Outstanding Senior Practicum award for a project on high school graduation standards in California. While in school, he interned at National Journal magazine, conducted research on political corruption connected to the nonprofit sector, and worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Public Policy Program. He served as editor-in-chief of The Unofficial Stanford Blog, the independent student blog, and wrote, acted, and produced comedy as part of Stanford’s sketch comedy troupe. When not thinking about the economy or philosophy, Josh enjoys making people laugh: He performs standup and improv comedy and is a frequent contributor to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, an online humor magazine. His satirical essay, “It’s Not You, It’s Quantitative Cost-Benefit Analysis” was selected for inclusion in the forthcoming book, “The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.” Josh hails from the oft-maligned state of New Jersey.
Nicole S. Gunawansa
Degree: B.S. in Neuroscience, Washington & Lee University
Nominating Institution: Washington & Lee University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Public Health
Nicole Gunawansa grew up in a lively Sri Lankan household in Portsmouth, Virginia. After spending a significant amount of time volunteering at hospitals and homeless shelters in and around Portsmouth, Nicole developed a deep-seeded interest in medicine and the role that poverty plays in equal access to medical treatment. In May 2014 Nicole will graduate from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia with a B.S. in neuroscience and an added emphasis in Poverty and Human Capability Studies. As a Washington and Lee University Robert E. Lee Research Scholar, Nicole has spent four years participating in behavioral neurological research that focuses on the impact of obesity and gonadal hormones on spatial and episodic cognition. Her research was well received at the National Society of Neuroscience conference in November of 2013, and a paper on this topic is slated for submission to the Journal of Physiology and Behavior in the spring of 2014. Nicole is a Bonner Scholar and AmeriCorps member and has dedicated over 900 hours to both domestic and international community service. She has worked with various organizations throughout the Lexington community, including the Rockbridge Area Health Center, the Leadership Team of W&L Campus Kitchens, and several local afterschool programs. She also spent time volunteering in Birmingham, Alabama, where she worked with programs such as Alabama A+ and Focus First to promote the welfare of Birmingham youth. In an attempt to further explore the relationship between medicine and poverty, Nicole became involved with the Rockbridge Community Health Needs Assessment via the MAPP Project (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership) in 2012. She also spent a semester abroad in Denmark studying the impact of the Scandinavian Healthcare Model on different sectors of European society. In the summer of 2013, Nicole was awarded both a Johnson Opportunity Grant and a Shepherd Consortium International Internship, enabling her to spend two months in Ghana teaching English at Ashaiman Apostolic Academy and volunteering at Kaneshie Polyclinic. Nicole’s record of domestic and international service, in conjunction with her background in science, motivates her to pursue her dream of becoming a physician capable of catering to the underprivileged populations of the world.
Joël J. Hage
Degree: B.A., Global Studies, International Politics and
Middle East Area Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nominating Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Field of Professional Interest: International Development and Urban Planning
Joël Hage is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he majors in global studies and minors in the Arabic language. A Morehead-Cain Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Joël has conducted ethnographic research across the Mediterranean interned with a community development organization in South Africa and a global impact-investing firm in Washington, D.C. Committed to a community-based approach to international development, Joël has had opportunities to immerse himself in rural and urban communities in Guatemala, Lebanon, Italy, Mexico, and South Africa. In addition to co-authoring a textbook chapter comparing immigration policy in the U.S. and Europe, Joël is currently writing an honors thesis focusing on public opinion surrounding electoral reform in multi-confessional Lebanon. Back at UNC, as a member of the executive board of the Campus Y—the university's center for social justice—Joël has worked closely with passionate students and community organizations on issues ranging from immigration inequality, access to education, and youth empowerment. Also at UNC, Joël has organized workshops and orientations on global engagement, founded an organization to provide scholarships for South African children of color, and is currently teaching a seminar course on Lebanon. Joël hopes to assist marginalized communities both domestically and internationally through a career at the crossroads of urban planning and international development.
Degree: B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
Nominating Institution: Cornell University
Field of Professional Interest:International Labor Law
Michelle Huang will graduate from Cornell University in May of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations and a minor in Law and Society. She began her undergraduate education at Wellesley College, where she discovered her interest in economics, law and policy. Outside of class, she found a mouthpiece for her interest at the college radio station, WZLY, where she was appointed News Director in her first year. Inspired by her experiences at a women’s college, Michelle worked at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, where she analyzed progress and drafted grants for programs supporting UN Security Council Resolutions on women and peace and security. After transferring to Cornell, these interests culminated in an interdisciplinary study of labor and employment law. Her junior year, she worked at the New York City Commission on Human Rights where she aided in the successful settlement of a multi-complainant race discrimination suit by conducting proof in pattern and practice statistical analysis. Her senior year, she worked at Proskauer Rose, where she helped develop and organize an online database for the firm’s archival case reference material. She also assisted in a pro-bono case filling a U-Visa for a noncitizen crime victim. Academically, Michelle has been placed on the ILR School Dean’s List every semester and expects to graduate with honors, pending completion of her thesis research on local adaptations to globalization in the New York City Garment District. Michelle’s interest in the intersection of economics, law and policy has inspired her to pursue competition in both collegiate policy debate and British Parliamentary debate for the Cornell Forensics Society, where she currently serves as the Vice President of External Relations. Notably, she is the first member of the society to achieve competitive success in both policy and British Parliamentary debate. Beyond competition, Michelle also performs outreach at the Finger Lakes Residential Center, where she spends time teaching juvenile delinquents about debate and public speaking. In her free time, Michelle enjoys blogging about her amateur forays into cooking and maintaining her black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Cindy K. Y. Lung
Degrees: B.A. in Education Studies and Sociology, Brown University;
M.A. in Urban Education Policy, Brown University
Nominating Institution: Brown University
Field of Professional Interest: Education Research and Policy
Cindy Lung was born in San Francisco and raised in nearby San Lorenzo, California, where she attended public schools for her primary and secondary education. Raised by a hard-working immigrant mother who worked as a janitor, Cindy became the first in her family to graduate from high school. In 2008, she entered Brown University in Rhode Island and studied education psychology, policy, and history. At Brown, she received the Evelyn Jacobs Reisman and Karen T. Romer undergraduate research awards to conduct achievement tests and qualitative interviews with low-income Chinese immigrant children and their mothers to document their learning beliefs and how their beliefs influence their actual learning and achievement. In addition to her research, Cindy served as a teaching assistant for an introductory sociology course and a graduate-level research methodology course. Her interests in teaching led her to conduct TOEFL practice sessions with international high school students for three summers, teach English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at a community center, and lead an adult ESOL literacy program that provides free ESOL courses for adult immigrants in Providence, Rhode Island. After completing her Bachelor’s in Education Studies and Sociology, Cindy pursued her Master’s in Education Policy at Brown and interned at Rhode Island Kids Count where she was a contributing writer and data analyst for the organization’s annual publication that examines sixty-eight indicators that affect the lives of children. Currently, Cindy serves as Fulbright Fellow in Prizren, Kosovo, where she assists with English instruction at a public elementary school and collects student-level data through focus groups and questionnaires to examine Kosovar youth perspectives of higher education and how government agencies, schools, and community-based agencies could help more Kosovar students enroll in and succeed in college.
Katherine G. McDaniel
Degree: B.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology, Yale College
Nominating Institution: Yale University
Field of Professional Interest: Global Health
Katherine McDaniel was born and raised in Bloomington, IN, the daughter of a biomedical engineer and a nurse-midwife. She grew up appreciating the power of both scientific innovations and patient-level efforts to improve human health, and hopes to incorporate both into a career as a physician focusing on global health. Katherine will graduate from Yale College in May with a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Her research, conducted both at Yale and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, seeks to inhibit bacterial group behavior and thus guide development of therapeutics less likely to provoke resistance as compared to standard antibiotics. In addition to her scientific pursuits, she has developed a keen interest in the health of disadvantaged populations, starting with her work as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients at Yale’s HAVEN Free Clinic. Her experience at HAVEN prompted her to join the Yale-Ecuador HIV Clinic Initiative (YEHCI), which allowed her to work in Ecuador for a summer doing global health research, HIV testing, and sexual health education. She later served as Outreach Director and Co-Executive Director of YEHCI, guiding its evolution into a new initiative - Student Partnerships for Global Health. Inspired by her experience in Ecuador and preparing other students for the same, she is now conducting survey- and interview-based research on how global health research experiences impact students and their host communities. The initial findings are being used to shape Yale’s pre-departure training for global health researchers and will inspire case studies about student global health ethics in Global Health 101, 3rd Edition. Katherine also works as a research assistant to Professor Richard Skolnik, the author of this textbook. In addition to providing academic insights, these experiences have fostered a delight in learning from other cultures. A Christian, she joined a Jewish, Hebrew and Israeli a cappella group her freshman year and has since embraced Jewish culture and become proficient in Hebrew. She has knit and shared patterns with knitters on five continents, played French horn with groups ranging from the Yale Concert Band to South African and Lithuanian street bands, and enjoyed Argentine tango lessons taught in Hebrew. As Katherine prepares for a medical career, she looks forward to continuing to learn from many places and people and uniting those perspectives for benefit of global health.
Kyle W. Niezgoda
Degree: B.S. in Environmental Science / B.A. in Mathematics, Emory University
Nominating Institution: Emory University
Field of Professional Interest: Climatology and Meteorology
Kyle hails from a small town just outside of Dover, Delaware. He is a recent graduate from Emory University in Atlanta, where he double majored in Environmental Science and Mathematics. During his time at Emory, he worked in a lab studying pollination ecology and honey bee declines. Kyle spent two summers doing ecological field research for his advisor at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Aspen, Colorado. At the RMBL, Kyle and his lab team experimentally removed a single pollinator species from a field site and then observed how the foraging behaviors of the remaining pollinator species changed. The lab team found that these changes in foraging behavior negatively effected the reproductive fitness of wildflowers pollinated by the bee species, reducing seed set by up to 30%. At Emory, he has carried out independent research studying the effects of El Niño/La Niña phenomena on the flowering phenology of plants from the RMBL and surrounding areas. He is currently involved in a research project trying to tease apart the details of new pollination network data that were gathered recently. While Kyle’s main research focus in school has been of bees and pollination, his career interests lie in the climatological and atmospheric sciences, stemming from a childhood spent almost entirely outdoors where an appreciation for nature flourished. He hopes to one day use his research experience and mathematical knowledge to enter the complex field of climate modeling and prediction to address important questions facing our planet, such as pollution control and management. Kyle is an avid percussionist of 11 years and a life-long music enthusiast. He enjoys crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay and spends most of his holiday time at home fishing on a family owned pond. He spends the majority of his time outside and will jump at the opportunity to take a long backpacking trip, go camping, or just take a short day hike. He also enjoys skiing, but opportunities are limited due the lack of mountainous topography in Delaware and Atlanta.
Andrew T. Peters
Degree: B.A. in Linguistics, Carlton College
M.D., Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University (expected 2017)
Nominating Institution: Northwestern University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Neurolinguistics
Andrew Peters was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota. A lifelong fascination with language, its content, and its structure drove his studies at nearby Carleton College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with a B.A. in linguistics, with distinction for his thesis project on mathematical models for Spanish phonology. He travelled to Kyoto for an all-too-brief trimester studying Japanese linguistics at Doshisha University in 2012. Andrew has a passion not just for linguistics but for language learning, having studied Latin, Spanish, and Japanese. He developed these pursuits alongside a long-held affinity for science and medicine, picking up hard-science classes at Carleton and immersing himself in HIV research for three summers at the Mayo Clinic. His work there and his experiences with Mayo physicians galvanized his desire for a medical career, and eventually his move to Chicago in fall 2013 to attend Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. He is particularly interested in speech disorders, as they represent an area where medicine and linguistics critically overlap, which he currently studies as a member of Northwestern's Aphasia and Neurolinguistics Research Laboratory. He hopes to seriously pursue and maintain this research interest, but views working with patients as the purpose and focus of his future career. Working with infectious disease physicians and their need for global and public-health competency have also influenced his perspective on medicine. Outside of classes, Andrew has found teaching and tutoring fulfilling; he worked as a Writing Center tutor throughout his Carleton career and currently volunteers at an after-school science program for middle schoolers in Humboldt Park, Chicago. He has always been a musician, playing piano and horn, and performing in orchestras in his hometown and at Carleton. Music - along with reading, writing, the outdoors, and of course time with family and friends - is what keeps him mindful, open, and inspired.
Will F. Poff-Webster
Degree: B.A. in History, Harvard College
Nominating Institution: Harvard University
Field of Professional Interest: Government Policy/ Education and Urban Policy
Will Poff-Webster grew up in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. He first encountered political activism at age 8 when he canvassed his neighbors with his mom to get their street repaved. As a junior in the Boston Public Schools, he started a community organizing effort with students across neighborhood and race lines to restore budget cuts to public education. He joined the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC), advocating for education reform in the Boston Teachers Union contract alongside business, community, faith, and parent groups. As an alumni staff member at BSAC he helped lead the campaign that made student feedback a component of teacher evaluations across Massachusetts. As a student at Harvard College graduating in 2014, Will majors in History with a smattering of classes in Government, Spanish, Sociology, and International Relations. He is writing his senior thesis on the political impact of gang violence in the Roman Republic, exploring how urban class conflict interacted with political revolution in the first century BC that has relevance for unstable and developing countries today. Will’s experience outside the classroom has been equally meaningful; this year, as President of the College Democrats of Massachusetts, he has advocated for greater youth input on issues like public transit, tuition affordability, housing, campus sexual assault policies, the minimum wage, and modernized voter registration. He moderated a youth forum with the Boston Mayoral candidates and brought more public college chapters into the College Democrats. During his summers, Will has taught environmental justice to at-risk teens at a Boston youth program, interned on education policy with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, campaigned for Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and worked for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Office of CitiStat on data analytics. He is passionate about the intersection of local government and data-driven policy analysis that can lead to better outcomes in everything from education to road maintenance to gang violence reduction. He believes data collection must be responsive to the experiences of constituents, and has combined data with his passion for education reform by co-founding the Boston Student Union, an organization of Boston Public Schools students and college mentors that surveys students on issues that matter to them and advocates for student-centered educational improvement and equity between schools. In his free time, Will teaches American Civics to 5th graders in South Boston, reads about science fiction and foreign policy, and performs in a Harvard improvisational comedy troupe.
Kevin E. Schell
Degree: B.S.M.E. in Mechanical Engineering, Rice University
Nominating Institution: Rice University
Field of Professional Interest: Energy & Utilities
Kevin Schell currently works within the Finance group of the Helmsley Charitable Trust as the foundation’s Management Reporting Associate where he has worked on developing systems and metrics to help improve the Trust’s ability to effectively support its programs. Kevin graduated from Rice University in 2011 with a degree in mechanical engineering. While at Rice, Kevin spent much of his time outside of the classroom in the pool with the men’s water polo team, helping to coordinate committees at his residential college (Brown), and volunteering in Rice’s admissions office. Kevin also looked for every opportunity to demonstrate his enthusiasm for his school and regularly painted up for the Owls’ home football games. After graduating from Rice, Kevin joined McKinsey & Company’s Houston Office as a business analyst where he primarily worked with energy and industrial clients. During his time at McKinsey, Kevin was involved with recruiting and training new classes of business analysts. In his free time, Kevin likes cooking, running, and listening to classic rock. He is also an avid fan of light British automobiles and mediocre professional sports teams. Kevin misses Texas BBQ and pecan pie, but has developed a love for bagel sandwiches since moving to New York.
Katherine M. Schuler
Degree: B.F.A. in Fine Art, Corcoran College of Art and Design
Nominating Institution: George Washington University
Field of Professional Interest: Wildlife Conservation and Science Education through Art and Storytelling
Katie Schuler works at the intersection of art, entrepreneurship, community development and stewardship of the natural world. As a photographer and videographer, Katie has traveled to over fifteen countries across six continents documenting wildlife and their habitats. As an artist and producer, she has led outreach efforts to vulnerable communities and undereducated youth, both at home and abroad. Katie’s clients rank among the most recognizable in environmental education including National Geographic, The Smithsonian Institute, Conservation International, Woods Hole Oceanographic and PBS. Katie is a graduate of the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and a recipient of the prestigious Koenig Trust Scholarship. Katie embraces a collaborative, holistic approach to solving problems of sustainability and environmental awareness, and believes that visual storytelling can be a transformative experience that changes hearts and minds for the better. Katie currently resides in Washington, DC and is a proud native of Palm Harbor, Florida.
Audrey C. Stienon
Degree: B.A. in Political Science and Economy, Hunter College
Nominating Institution: Hunter College
Field of Professional Interest: International Political Economy and Development
Audrey Stienon is a native New Yorker who grew up in a Belgian-American household. Her yearly visits to family in Europe sparked her fascination with understanding the world at large, and prompted her to study international relations in college. She has pursued study-abroad opportunities in diverse settings, including China, Crete, Argentina, Russia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. In 2014, Audrey will graduate from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College with a double major in Political Science and Economics, and with a minor in Public Policy. She joined the Hunter College Model United Nations Team in 2011, and after her first semester, became the teacher’s assistant of the requisite course for all team members, and Head Delegate of the team during all competitions. Having grown up with a younger sister who has Rett Syndrome, a severe developmental disorder, Audrey has long been involved in local awareness campaigns for Rett Syndrome and is interested in understanding the differences between individuals and groups in order to learn how best to respect them and accommodate their needs. More recently, she brought that experience to her academic work. In the summer of 2013, Audrey worked as an intern at the International Disability Alliance, a disability-rights advocacy organization at the UN, and recently completed a public policy capstone thesis analyzing the ways in which New York State long-term care policies could be used to promote social integration for people with disabilities. While much of her work thus far has centered around the promotion of rights for people with disabilities, Audrey hopes to expand on the lessons she learned about the barriers facing this group, and pursue a career in which she can promote the integration into society of a range of traditionally marginalized groups around the world.
Meaghan C. Tobin
Degrees: B.S. in Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health, New York University;
A.S. in Bakery and Pastry Arts, Johnson & Wales University
Nominating Institution: New York University
Field of Professional Interest: International Agriculture, Trade & Development
Meaghan Tobin is a Fellow at Meridian Institute, where she supports mediation and consensus-building processes around complex social and political issues with national and global implications. Meaghan provides support for policy dialogues, negotiations, and strategy development projects focused on food and health, agricultural development, natural resource management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. At Meridian, Meaghan has helped to develop policy recommendations for local, state, and national policymakers to increase access to nutritious foods; assisted the U.S. government and ministries of foreign governments in evaluating results-based payment systems that reduce deforestation and environmental degradation in developing countries; and supported multi-stakeholder dialogues to inform the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation process. Meaghan has also provided strategic support for projects targeting reduced emissions from oil consumption and production in North America, and contributed to the continued development of the Meridian Fellowship program. Meaghan graduated in 2012 from New York University, where she studied food studies, nutrition, and public health. She also took courses in economics and international politics, and her academic work focused on understanding the relationship between political and economic forces and the global food and agriculture system. During her time at NYU, Meaghan conducted research on open campus spaces to investigate the potential of developing innovative urban agriculture systems. She held a number of intern positions at regional agricultural development organizations, and served as President of Slow Food NYU. Prior to attending NYU, Meaghan graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a degree in Baking & Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University. As part of her studies, Meaghan spent several months living in Ireland and working as a pastry chef at a resort hotel. She has also been an artisan bread baker and worked on farms in Massachusetts and New York's Hudson Valley. Meaghan grew up in New England and is an accomplished figure skater. She has an abiding love for languages and linguistic anthropology, and has studied Spanish, French, Arabic, Irish, and Mandarin Chinese.
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