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News and Media

Students Win Prestigious Fellowships and Awards

Apr. 18, 2013

Office of Communications

A student studies in Mudd Library.
Photo by Steve Goldsmith

Each year, Oberlin students win highly competitive grants and fellowships from leading foundations to pursue career aspirations, explore challenging new endeavors, and to aid in their tuition and research efforts. The awards represent Oberlin’s commitment to rigorous academics and support for qualified candidates.  

For the past several years, Oberlin has been a top producer of recipients of the Fulbright program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

This year’s contingent of award winners includes graduating seniors, upper-class students, and several alumni. The following list will be updated as announcements are released.

Fulbright Program

Photos of student award and fellowship recipients by Tanya Rosen-Jones


Sophia Bamert


Kara Kralik


Laura Rose Brylowski


Lyz Glickman


Darrin Schultz


Britt Higgins


Amanda Gracia


Leah Goldman


Sophia Yapalater


Rachel McMonagle


Sophia LeBlanc


Gabriel Brown


Margaret Nichols


Adam Birdsall


Rachel Manning


Margaret Heraty


Taylor Richard


Daniel Starer-Stor


Gail Schwieterman


Matthew Gallagher


Billy Broderick


Isabela (Belle) Espinal


Aki Gormezano


Jamie Yelland

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright aims to build bridges between American students and scholars and other nations throughout the globe. Founded by the Institute of International Education in 1946, the Fulbright Foundation provides grants to U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals, and artists to study abroad for one academic year.

As the largest international exchange program in the United States, the Fulbright program supports about 1,700 fellows each year, providing them with opportunities to engage in study, independent learning, research, or teaching assistantships in one of more than 135 countries worldwide. Participants are selected on the basis of academic merit and leadership potential, as well as their ability to serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States in their host country.

Sophia Bamert's goal during her English teaching assistantship in Germany is to wholly integrate herself in the surrounding culture and community, taking advantage of the immersion experience to grow as a teacher, a speaker of German, and as a person. Bamert, a double major in English and environmental studies with a minor in German, plans to learn more about and become involved in the German environmental movement.  “I am very interested in the similarities and differences between environmentalism in Germany and in the United States,” says Bamert, “and I am curious to see what lessons these countries can learn from one another.” Upon her return, Bamert plans to complete a PhD in literature.

Kara Kralik, a senior double major in English and German language and literature, will spend a year as an English teaching assistant in Germany. Kralik, who hopes to pursue education as a career, is eager to gain valuable experience as a teacher. “I’m particularly interested in different approaches to pedagogy,” says Kralik. “I’m interested to see how the education system works in another country as a way to think about how to improve public education in the United States.”

Laura Rose Brylowski's experience with language learning has provided her with opportunities “to study abroad, express myself through different means, create a new identity, and gain a deeper understanding of other cultures,” she says. “My main goal is to be able to provide those same opportunities to my Brazilian students during my English teaching assistantship.” An environmental studies major and Hispanic studies minor, Brylowski looks forward to “exploring how Brazil’s higher education system illuminates and reflects Brazilian culture and society — this time from the perspective of an educator.”

Lyz Glickman, a sociology major with a minor in politics, chose to complete her English teaching assistantship in South Korea because of the country’s high academic standards and achievements. The Korean government has dedicated considerable resources to education and, as a result, Korean students have achieved some of the highest test scores in the world in reading and math exams, says Glickman. “I want to experience first-hand the role that teachers are playing in boosting student achievement and contributing to a culture that places a high value on education.” Glickman’s experience in South Korea will contribute to her future career, either as an educator in the United States or with a career in international relations.

Biology major Darrin Schultz will spend his Fulbright year in Japan, where he plans to collaborate with scientists working in the emerging field of bioluminescence. Schultz is interested in applying bioluminescence—the production and emission of light by a living organism—to synthetic biology, a field that seeks to create new organisms, or to modify existing organisms, to perform a useful function. “For instance, a synthetic biologist may hope to develop a bacterium that could lead to an economically important drug or could help clean up environmental pollution,” says Schultz. “My current goal, however, is to modify common plant species to produce a bioluminescent tree, which is a tree that produces light at night.” When he’s not in the lab, Schultz enjoys playing guitar and making electronic music. He plans to apply for master’s programs in business and computer science, and he hopes to pursue a PhD in computational biology, synthetic biology, or biological engineering.
 
Spike Enzweiler graduated in December 2012 with majors in creative writing and German. Enzweiler has been awarded an English teaching assistantship in Germany.

Britt Higgins will teach English in Mexico. A history and Latin American studies major, she participates in the community outreach program SITES (Spanish in the Elementary Schools), which recruits and trains Oberlin College students to teach Spanish at Oberlin’s Eastwood and Prospect elementary schools. Higgins is also an America Reads site leader at Eastwood. She has taught English as a second language through the Immigrant Worker Project, and she’s been involved with Oberlin in Solidarity with El Salvador. She previously spent a semester abroad in Puebla, Mexico. “Besides teaching, I’m really looking forward to traveling and getting to know the city I’ll be in, as well as visiting my host family and the friends I made in Puebla,” she says. “I knew I wanted to return to Mexico because I love the language, the food, the music, and the culture. The Fulbright program talks a lot about how it builds ‘mutual understanding.’ I think this goal of the Fulbright program is especially relevant for Mexico because our two countries are so closely connected in a variety of ways.”

A Russian language major, Amanda Gracia will spend a year as an English teaching assistant in Russia. As a co-captain of the track and field team, Gracia is especially interested in getting a firsthand look at the after school activities and programs available to the students in her Russian community. When she returns to the United States, Gracia plans to continue her study of Russian and eventually follow a career path in social work with a focus on language instruction. "Learning English as a second language is challenging for immigrants who are navigating new social and political terrains," says Gracia. "I hope to utilize my language abilities — both Spanish and Russian — and my experience as an English as a second language language instructor to make the transition to American society easier for immigrants."

Leah Goldman, who will spend a year teaching English in Norway, is passionate about education. The politics major and Middle East North African studies minor has been involved in teaching others even as she keeps up with her own education at Oberlin — Goldman is involved in SITES, co-teaches an Experimental College (ExCo) course on contemporary issues in education, serves as a student representative on the college's Educational Plans and Policies Comittee (EPPC), and volunteers at the Oberlin Early Childhood Center through America Reads. During her ETA, Goldman hopes to learn firsthand what makes Norway an international leader in education and "bring these ideas back into my own career as a future teacher and leader in American public education," she says. Having spent several summers and winter terms working for organizations and nonprofits focusing on improving education, Goldman has seen that "America has a strong need for best practices in education. I hope to use my time in Norway to learn new strategies."

Sophia Yapalater , a comparative American studies major, will spend a year in Turkey teaching English and immersing herself in a country that is home to a multitude of races, genders, religions, ethnicities, and citizenships. "As an ETA in Turkey, I hope to use the frameworks I have learned in college to be both a proper representative of the complicated nature of U.S. culture, as well as to be able to engage with issues of gender, class, racial, sexual, and religious identity and diversity," says Yapalater. "I am excited about being in a country where I will be able to advance my educational abilities and further immerse myself in the interactions of identity, community, and the state, which I will use in my hopeful future as an educator and advocate."

Rachel McMonagle will study small-scale farmers' adaptations to agricultural reform and climate change in Ukraine. McMonagle graduated in December 2012 with a degree in environmental studies and a minor in economics. She says her research will focus on agricultural techniques, land use, and social coping strategies in response to the agricultural sector's financial crisis in post-independence Ukraine.

“I am pursuing an affiliation with the Kiev National Linguistic University as well as the National Agricultural University, and plan to visit the two regions most vulnerable to climate change—the Carpathian Mountains and foothills and southeastern Ukraine—for surveying purposes.”

Although this is her first journey to Ukraine, McMonagle conducted previous environmental fieldwork abroad during her time at Oberlin. In the summer of her sophomore year, she conducted research on agricultural coping strategies in Zambia, and during spring semester of her junior year, she studied abroad in Costa Rica through an environmental field studies program.

Sofia LeBlanc, a Hispanic studies and psychology double major, will spend a year teaching English in Uruguay. "My studies were pretty heavily Latin America-focused," says LeBlanc, who studied abroad in Chile, particpated in the Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES) program, and was a tutor and teaching assistant for Spanish classes at the college. During her time in Uruguay, LeBlanc hopes to "become a better teacher, improve my Spanish, learn about Uruguay's history, and implement a bookmaking project in a local community." After the Fulbright year, LeBlanc plans to live in Latin America. 

Miriam Rothenberg ‘12 was awarded a scholarship to attend Durham University in England, where she will be a candidate for the master’s program in archaeology. Her research project during the Fulbright year will involve the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to the study of landscapes as sites of cultural memory construction.

Rothenberg majored in archaeology and anthropology with a minor in geology. She says she wanted to study in the United Kingdom because the role and practice of archaeology is much different there compared to the United States. For example, she says, in the UK, archaeology is a distinct discipline, whereas in the U.S., it is more closely tied with anthropology. She eventually plans to return to the U.S. for doctoral studies.

“I will bring British archaeological perspectives with me, integrating them with more typical American approaches to the discipline,” says Rothenberg. “Of course, I'll also get to study something that greatly interests me, and to live in a place where I'll be surrounded by centuries of history and archaeology. I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to study archaeology in the UK and to become part of the Fulbright UK community, and I am truly grateful to my mentors at Oberlin for all their help and support.”

A 1998 graduate, Larissa Min is a creative and freelance writer, editor, speaker, and photographer. The Fulbright grant will enable her to live and research in Brazil to complete a creative writing project titled Breaking English, and begin a second project, Wondering Gondwana.

Breaking English is a creative non-fictional account of Min’s family’s double migration from Korea to Brazil and later to the United States. Min says the book raises issues about identity, loss, home, fact and fiction, and how these combine in the process of remembrance. “My hopes in returning to Brazil are to gather final details and better understand how Korean communities have grown and developed in the present day. I will spend several months immersing myself in the Korean community of Curitiba (my birthplace) and cities such as Sao Paulo.”

During the Fulbright year, she will also do primary research in the Amazon region -- visiting with scientists, activists, and indigenous and immigrant populations -- to better understand the realities of the region.

Min just completed a yearlong residency in Antarctica as part of the National Science Foundation Artists and Writers program. There, she conducted field research for Wondering Gondwana, which explores the intersections of conservation, development, and global climate change from a developing world's perspective in one of the last wild places in the world.

Wondering Gondwana, Min explains, “combines a narrative of Antarctica with one of a fictional girl living in poverty in Amazonia as a way to examine issues of development, conservation, social justice and global climate change between seemingly separate but delicately poised and interconnected regions. While separated geographically and perceptually, these regions are interlinked and subject to the effects of human activity and global climate change.”

Min received her degree in women’s studies with a concentration in creative writing and politics. She currently lives in Seattle.

US-UK Fulbright Commission Summer Institutes

American students with at least two years of undergraduate study left to complete have the opportunity to spend three to six weeks in the United Kingdom with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, which offers nine academic and cultural summer programs to American students.

Created in 1948, the US-UK Fulbright Commission is part of the larger global Fulbright Program, which operates in more than 150 countries and counts its alumni at more that 300,000. This year, two Oberlin students have been selected to take part in the summer programs. 

Gabriel Brown will spend the month of June at the University of Bristol Summer Institute for Young American Student Leaders. As a first-year prospective history major with an interest in European and American history, "the University of Bristol program will enrich my understanding of the Triangle Trade from the perspective of the United Kingdom," says Brown of the program, whose 2013 theme is "Slavery and the Atlantic Heritage."

"This fellowship is an extremely exciting part of my intellectual goals," says Brown. "I view it as a tremendous opportunity to study a subject about which I am passionate in an area that was centrally involved in the transatlantic slave trade. The experience will introduce me to the culture of a historically important country as well as make me a better historian."

Megan Michel will take part in the Durham University Summer Institute, whose theme for the July program is "The Northern Borders of Empire to the Making of the Middle Ages." The fellowship, which Michel calls "the biggest accomplishment of my academic career," will be the first time that she has traveled internationally. Michel is looking forward to learning firsthand about British history and contemporary culture. 

"I'm a biology major, but I've always been fascinated by British history," says Michel, a sophomore who also has a minor in history. "During my time at Oberlin, I've relished the opportunity to explore my diverse academic interests, and I believe that my multidisciplinary education has made me a better student in all aspects of my life. At Durham University, I hope to continue this process of exploration and discovery, becoming a better student of the liberal arts."

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in National Science Foundation-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. Of more than 13,000 applications in 2013, the NSF made 2,000 award offers.

Senior Margaret Nichols is completing senior honors work in mathematics under the supervision of Professor of Mathematics Susan Jane Colley. In Fall 2013, she took on graduate-level study in preparation for the graduate course in commutative algebra at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More recently, she has applied the commutative algebra she learned to the study of algebraic curves; her honors paper is an exposition on this topic.  

In summer 2011, Nichols participated in the Cornell Summer Mathematics Institute, where she took an algebra course and pursued a small research project. Last summer, she participated in the undergraduate summer research program at Williams College. 

A mathematics major and computer science minor, Nichols will pursue a PhD in mathematics at the University of Chicago. Outside of the classroom, she has been involved in the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association and enjoys swing and blues dancing.

“This fellowship is a huge honor. I'm thrilled to begin research with the outstanding faculty at Chicago,” says Nichols.

Colley says the competition for the NSF graduate research fellowship is fierce. “Now that she has the support, she will be able to pursue graduate work with a smaller teaching commitment. This will enable her to focus more completely on her studies and research.”

Adam Birdsall received honorable mention. A double-degree student, he is majoring in chemistry and piano performance with a minor in mathematics. Birdsall is a research assistant in chemistry professor Matthew Elrod’s lab, where he has studied the mechanisms by which organic compounds react to produce ground-level ozone and secondary organic aerosols in our atmosphere, both of which are harmful to human health and contribute to climate change. As part of the National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, he has studied computational modeling of drug-protein interactions at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute with University of Minnesota associate professor William Gleason. Birdsall will be a candidate in the chemistry PhD program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, beginning in the fall.

Udall Scholarship

This year, the Udall Foundation awarded 50 scholarships on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, health care, or tribal public policy; leadership potential; and academic achievement. This highly qualified class of Udall Scholars was selected from 488 candidates nominated by 230 colleges and universities. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year. The 2013 Udall Scholars will assemble August 7 to 11, 2013, in Tucson, to receive their awards and meet policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care, and governance.

In her three years at Oberlin, Rachel Manning has led the charge for healthful eating and food access, both locally and in Appalachia.
 
Her largest achievement, the Mountain Garden Initiative, is a school-based garden that she cofounded with Hilary Neff ’13 in Harlan County, Kentucky. The initiative addresses food access issues in Appalachia and integrates lessons about the garden and environmental conservation into Cumberland Elementary School's science curriculum.
 
Manning, a junior who is majoring in sociology and East Asian studies with a Chinese language concentration, was a 2012 recipient of the Dalai Lama fellowship [http://www.dalailamafellows.org/fellow/rachel-manning/].
 
This summer, she will further develop the Mountain Garden Initiative by connecting the garden in Kentucky with one or two others in Tanzania and Kenya established by the organization Mama Hope, which funds schools, health clinics, clean water systems, and food security projects throughout Africa. Manning was introduced to Mama Hope through her Dalai Lama fellowship mentor.
 
Manning has also led community service trips during academic breaks, organized a variety of local gardening work, and initiated and taught healthful cooking classes at Langston Middle School in Oberlin.
 
“I was extremely surprised when I found out that I received the Udall Scholarship,” she says. “The application really helped me think about my interests and options for my life after Oberlin. I’m looking forward to the conference in Tucson and meeting the other Udall scholars.”
 
After Oberlin, Manning says she plans to work in sustainable agriculture, school gardens and childhood nutrition, or food policy.

Margaret Heraty received honorable mention.

Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program awarded 271 scholarships to undergraduate sophomores and juniors for the 2013-14 academic year. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses up to $7,500 annually for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Taylor Richard received honorable mention. He is a junior mathematics major, and, as a secondary organ student, he takes lessons in the Conservatory of Music. In math, his research interests center on topology and the problem of classifying sets of rays in Euclidean 3-space. He intends to pursue a PhD in mathematical research.

Daniel Starer-Stor received honorable mention. Starer-Stor a junior biochemistry and biology double major interested in studying age-related disorders and the cellular processes associated with aging. Aside from his research with Professor of Biology Yolanda Cruz, Starer-Stor is the president and founder of the Oberlin College Research Mentorship Program, which pairs students from Oberlin High School with college mentors to get them involved with scientific research. He was a professional tap dancer during his high school years and during his gap year, and has taught the tap dancing Experimental College (ExCo) course twice during his three years at Oberlin, also performing during the fall student dance showcase. This summer, Starer-Stor will be working in a neuroscience lab at the Cold Spring Harbor Undergraduate Summer Research Program.

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation awards 40 grants nationwide to college seniors to pursue their unique passion or dream for a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Each fellow receives $25,000 for 12 months of travel and exploration.

Gail Schwieterman, a December 2013 graduate, will study shark conservation efforts around the world. A biology major, Schwieterman is fulfilling her lifelong passion for conservation, although her interest in marine ecology is fairly new. During her Watson year, she will work with an organization that monitors commercial fishing in Costa Rica, volunteer on cage diving boats in South Africa, and participate in a public awareness campaign to ban shark fin soup in Hong Kong. She plans to develop relationships with people who work in the industries most closely associated with marine life—commercial fishing, the food industry, and tourism—to learn how communities are responding to overharvesting. She also hopes to venture into nonscientific writing to communicate conservation issues to the public. “I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” she says. “I’m eager apply the skills that I learned at Oberlin, both academic and interpersonal, during my Watson year.”

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, selects approximately 700 undergraduates in the United States to participate in a study abroad or international internship program during the summer 2013 academic term. Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad costs, and a limited number of students receive additional funding for language study through the Critical Need Language Awards, for a total of up to $8,000.  

In August, Sylvia Woodmansee will participate in an Arabic intensive program at the Ali Baba International Center in Amman, Jordan. A sophomore, Woodmansee is majoring in Latin American studies with a minor in Middle East North Africa studies. She began studying Arabic in fall 2012. “I’ve never been to the Middle East, and I want to bring my skills to the next level and learn Arabic in a cultural context,” says Woodmansee. “It is important to me to gain conversational abilities in Arabic and Spanish before I graduate in the hopes that I can use these languages in a future career.”

At Oberlin, Woodmansee is an Immerse Yourself in Service leader and a student leader in the Bonner Center for Service and Learning. She is also co-chair of Tanwir (a student group with a focus on Middle East studies) and co-coordinator of the Nicaragua Sister Partnership. Although she is not a double-degree student, Woodmansee studies cello in the Conservatory of Music.

Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts

Founded in 1969, AICUO represents privately supported, nonprofit colleges and universities in Ohio, conducting public relations, research, and government relations for its members. Its Excellence in Visual Arts Award recognizes outstanding senior artists from independent colleges throughout Ohio who compete for the Grand Award, including a cash prize of $2,500.

Six finalists were chosen from an applicant pool of 18 artists. The finalists’ portfolios were judged by gallery owners, community artists, art journalists, and state legislators to determine the Grand Award winner—Oberlin senior studio art major Matthew Gallagher.

“Winning this award has almost immediately catapulted me into the world of professional art,” says Gallagher. “The value of my paintings almost immediately rose 500 percent, and I was met with several new commissions and gallery exhibitions. Winning AICUO basically symbolized my transition from student artist to professional artist.” Gallagher plans to continue to exhibit his work in galleries and shows after he leaves Oberlin. One of Gallagher’s winning paintings will reside in the office of Ohio Governor John Kasich for one year before becoming part of the gallery collection at the AICUO headquarters in Columbus.

Luce Scholars Program

The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15 to 18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia.

Senior Billy Broderick, a neuroscience and mathematics double major, says he hopes to improve his conversational skills and work in a research lab in a Chinese speaking area. Broderick is taking fourth-year Chinese and spent the summer of 2012 in Beijing on the Princeton in Beijing language immersion program. In spring 2012, he spent a semester abroad in the Budapest Semesters Mathematics program.

At Oberlin, Broderick has pursued the study of computational neuroscience, which uses mathematical simulations to model the brain. He has been doing research with Patrick Simen, assistant professor of neuroscience, since his junior year. Simen’s work attempts to create mathematical models that can test experiments to explain human behavior.  

Broderick says he is excited to take full advantage of everything the Luce Scholarship can offer. “I hope I can form lasting connections that will allow me to return to Asia in the future.”

After the Luce year, Broderick plans pursue a PhD in computational neuroscience.

U.S. Department of State Critical Languages Scholarship

The Critical Languages Scholarship (CLS) program is part of a U.S. government effort to significantly expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. It provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

This year, the program selected 610 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 5,000 applicants. CLS participants will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in one of 13 countries to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu.

Isabela (Belle) Espinal, a freshman, was awarded the scholarship to study Hindi while living in Jaipur, India. She will undergo eight weeks of intensive Hindi language instruction. By the end of the training, she will have gained a year’s worth of classroom language instruction.

A comparative American studies major with interests in environmental studies, Espinal is particularly interested in researching clean water solutions in India. “I am committed to the multitude of issues stemming from and related to clean water access, and I believe that speaking Hindi will enhance my ability to provide the best type of water resources to a country that needs it. I want to go back to India to work and provide clean water solutions to people,” she says.

This is Espinal’s first study abroad experience. In Spring 2014, she will participate in the Border Studies Program in the borderlands of Tucson, Arizona. On campus, she is involved in La Alianza Latina, and as a Bonner Scholar, she works with America Counts at the local Boys & Girls Club.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me that would not have been possible without the Critical Language Scholarship,” Espianal says. “I was in shock when I learned I had this opportunity, and I cannot wait to share it with my peers in the fall.”

Senior Aki Gormezano will study Japanese at Dokkyo University while living in Himeji, Japan.

“Language is the key to a culture, and I want to immerse myself in the culture of Japan,” says Gormezano, who is majoring in East Asian studies. At Oberlin, he has played varsity soccer all four years. He is also an active member of the Oberlin Meditators. Following the CLS program, Gormezano will be an English language instructor in Japan through the the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program.

“This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was made possible by the support I received from my mentors in the East Asian studies department, the psychology department, and Career Services during my four years at Oberlin College.”

Ernest B. Yeager Award

Senior chemistry major Yihui Chen has been awarded the Ernest B. Yeager Award for research in spectroscopy. The award is given annually to one undergraduate in the northeast Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania region by the Cleveland section of the American Chemical Society.

"The competition for these awards is stiff, and so it is a testament to the strength of Yihui's accomplishments that she was chosen as this year's winner," says Professor of Chemistry Manish Mehta.

For the award, Chen will receive $300 in cash and a one-year membership to the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.

The award will be presented at the 57th Annual Conference on Spectroscopy and Analytical Chemistry at John Carroll University on May 15, where Chen will give an oral presentation of her research on the structural effects of electron delocalization in polyenes, which has a wide range of applications in energy technology and electronics.

"I've learned a great amount from doing research, and to get an award on top of that was a pleasant surprise," says Chen. "I'm grateful to my research advisor, Professor Norman Craig, for nominating me, and the Oberlin chemistry and biochemistry department for the opportunity to do honors research."

Along with her honors research in spectroscopy, Chen has taken piano lessons in the Conservatory of Music with Professor of Piano Alvin Chow, played violin in the Arts & Sciences Orchestra, and has been involved in the Oberlin Christian Fellowship. Following graduation, Chen will return to her hometown of Singapore to pursue an MD/PhD at the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School.

Darmasiswa Scholarship in Indonesia

The Darmasiswa scholarship program is offered to students from more than 75 countries that have a diplomatic relationship with Indonesia to study Bahasa Indonesia arts, music, and crafts. Participants can choose one of 45 different universities located in different cities in Indonesia. This program is organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

The Darmasiswa program was started in 1974 as part of an ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) initiative, admitting only students from ASEAN. However, in 1976 the program was extended to include students from other countries, including the United States. The mission of the Darmasiswa program is to promote and increase the interest in the language and culture of Indonesia among the youth of other countries. It has also been designed to provide stronger cultural links and understanding among participating countries.

Two Oberlin alumni and one undergraduate have been accepted into one-year fellowships.

Jamie Yelland graduates in May 2013 with a degree in biochemistry. He will study the performance of Javanese gamelan music at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Surakarta, Java. He will take classes at the university and take lessons with professional musicians. At Oberlin, Yelland led a Javanese gamelan ExCo (Experimental College) course for three semesters. In winter term 2012, Yelland studied gamelan in Surakarta as a Shansi In-Asia Study Grant recipient.

He has studied sitar with composer Hasu Patel, and he has participated in several other ensembles on campus: he played in the Conservatory gamelan and talempong (gong music from West Sumatra) ensembles, led by Jennifer Fraser, associate professor of ethnomusicology and anthropology; and he joined the Balkan Ensemble with Ian MacMillen, visiting assistant professor in the Russian and East European studies program.

As a science student, Yelland has been a research assistant for Visiting Assistant Professor Peter Chivers, studying mechanisms by which the E. coli bacterium recognizes metal ions. He was also an active member of the fencing team for three years.

During his fellowship, “Music is going to be my main focus, and what I want most of all is to spend as much time as possible learning and playing,” Yelland says. “But more than that, I'd really like to learn everything I can about Indonesian and Javanese culture--languages, etiquette, and so forth, so I better understand how and why gamelan music has its particular roles in Javanese society. I want to meet a lot of people who share my interests, and form lasting friendships with Indonesians and fellow Darmasiswa students from around the world.”

Yelland says he hopes to pursue a PhD, possibly in ethnomusicology.

Zoë McLaughlin ’11 will study dance at ISI Surakarta--Institut Seni Indonesia in Solo, Indonesia. She plans to focus on traditional Javanese dance. McLaughlin has spent the last two years living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as an Oberlin Shansi fellow. As a Shansi fellow, she has been part of a student group focusing on Javanese music and dance. “With the Darmasiswa program, I hope to build on what I've already learned,” McLaughlin says.

Violet Peña ’12 majored in Hispanic studies with a minor in philosophy. She is a former UI/UX Assistant for Oberlin’s Office of Communications.


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