Students rake in grants, fellowships

Imagine spending a year after graduation in Jamaica and South Africa,

studying women’s behavior in the marketplace by working with them there.

This is what Tammy Palmer ’97 plans to do next year, with the help of

her recently announced Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Ten Williams

students have recently been awarded prestigious fellowships this year,

enabling them to work on pet projects, attend graduate school or do

summer research. In addition, eight students or alumni have received

scientific grants, and two students have captured a scholarship toward

studies in law and public policy. The Fulbright Fellowship, awarded to

Amanda Hockensmith ’97, Dana Mason ’97, Howard Kahn ’97 and Mike Tae

’97, supports US students studying, conducting graduate research, or

working on independent projects oversees. Mason said she decided to

apply for a teaching Fulbright in France after having positiv tuteoring

experiences and spending a semester in France. Next year she plans to

teach English there in a program for the French Government. The

Fulbright will enable both Kahn and Tae to study at Yonsai University in

Korea next year. Kahn is a history and asian studies major at Williams

and worked in Korea last summer. He said he hopes to further study

Korean culture, language, and history in situ next year. Tae, an

economics and asian studies major, will be researching the role of

business conglomerates in Korean history and development while at

Yonsai. The prestigious Rhodes scholarship, which sponsors two years of

study at Oxford University in England, was awarded to John Ackerly ’97,

one of 32 Rhodes fellows in the country. Dean Peter Grudin explained

the Herschel-Smith Fellowship, which was awarded earlier to Chunhang Liu

’97, Tom McCray-Worrall ’97 and Martha Johnson ’97, as “modeled on the

Rhodes, but students go to Cambridge, not Oxford. They can study as

undergraduates or grads, and everything is paid.” The Watson fellowship

was awarded to Palmer and Darby Jack ’97. Palmer, an economics major

with concentrations in women’s studies and African-American studies,

said she first became interested in doing her Watson project after

studying at a School for International Training Program in the Jamaican

marketplace last year. She explained that while doing research on an

independent project for the program, “I sold fruits, vegetables and

other items with the women [in the market].” Palmer’s Watson project

will expand on this experience as she plans to work in the markets

again, studying the relationships between politics, women and the

markets. “[The market] has continued to be used as a space, particularly

for poor women, to experience some sense of freedom within their

classist, racist and sexist environments,” Palmer said. When asked what

the Watson fellowship entailed, Palmer replie,d Annything that you can

possibly imagine.” Grudin, who coordinates and aids with fellowship

applications, described the Watson as “a year to work on and complete a

plan oversees. It’s not an academic scholarship but a time to trek or

visit or do art.” Jack will use her Watson fellowship to work in a

completely different field than Palmer, completing a project entitled

“Factors in Successful Forestry.” Palmer said the Watson provides

incredible flexibility to its fellows. Palmer explained, “I don’t have a

set or fixed schedule; I have the ultimate completion of my project as

my goal.” Palmer called the chance to design the daily schedule for the

completion of her project “wonderfully refreshing.” Several scientific

grants also have been awarded recently. Five Williams students and

alumni have been honored with National Science Foundation Grants for

graduate research. Although this number marks a departure from 11

winners in 1995 and 14 in 1994, Grudin said past numbers of NSF grants

have been “unbelievably high.” Leo Tsai ’98 and Carolyn McBride ’98 have

won Goldwater scholarships. Tsai, a physics and chemistry major,

explained that the Goldwater is a federal scholarship for the sciences

which will support the remainder of his time at Williams. Sophomores and

juniors are eligible for the award. For the Goldwater, Williams students

pre-apply to Williams College; from that applicant pool, four students

are chosen to enter the national competition for the scholarship. Jason

Meyers ’97 will study at the University of Virginia supported by the

Hughes Fellowship. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute sponsors this

fellowship for graduate pre-doctoral studies in biology, providing

winners wi h three-years of graduate school tuition, extendable to five

years, Myers said. To win the fellowship, Myers presented a detailed

proposal for research into the regeneration of sensory cells in ears.

“The loss of these cells is one of the leading causes of deafness,”

Meyers explained. At UVA Meyers plans to work with a neurologist who has

studied sensory cell regeneration in sharks and chickens. Meyersmal sees

this research as an extention of his current research and interest into

the regeneration of neurons. The Truman has been granted to Jon

Michaels ’98 and Erin Casey ’98. Grudin said the Truman is awarded to

students who have “superb academic and extracurricular records and who

are intent on careers in public service.” He said the Truman will fund

two years of law school. Michaels further explained that it also may be

used to support graduate efforts toward a masters or doctorate of

philosophy. Michaels, an English and political science major, plans to

use his Truman scholarship to work after graduation toward degrees in

law and public policy. Eventually, he said he wants “to work in a policy

capacity on issues of poverty.” Michaels also described the Truman’s

undergraduate programs: winners are required to attend a summer seminar,

which he described as a “chance to meet and work with other winners.” At

the seminars, the Truman scholars will work on policy projects and host

workshops with public leaders. The summer after graduate,aute, Truman

winners are placed in internships in Washington D.C. with the executive

departments of charity, non-profit and other policy-oriented

organizations. Michaels said he hopes to intern with the Department of

Health and Human Services. For each of these fellowships, there is a

demanding application process. Grudin explained, “Even when people don’t

win, they can learn incredible amounts from the process [of applying];

when they do win, wonderful.” Kahn described the Fulbright application,

which does not require an interview, as “relatively simple.” But

Michaels said the Truman application process is strenuous. Since only

four Williams students can apply for the Truman, Michaels explained, “I

started in early October writing the in-house application.” Once

nominated, he worked over winter study to put together his formal

application. Later in the year he was asked to interview. “I prepped

for about six weeks for the finalist interview -reading the Times, some

policy journals, the Truman bio and thinking through some esoteric

philosophical stuff like my definition of public service, democracy and

leadership,” he said. Michaels credited his success in the process to

faculty support and advice. Grudin stressed that several awards still

are pending. Finalists for the Watson fellowhip are interviewing, and,

according to Grudin, “we may not be done with the Fulbrights yet,

either.” Since the decision process is ongoing, more Fulbrights could be

announced in the upcoming weeks.