Students receive prestigious awards to aid post-grad goals

Multiple College students have been named winners of prestigious fellowships and scholarships to aid them in accomplishing their goals after graduation in recent weeks. Lindsay Olsen ’12 was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Fiona Wilkes ’12 received a National Science Foundation research grant and Katharine Dusenbery ’13 and Nathan Schine ’13 both received Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention honors.

Olsen is one of 40 Watson fellows this year. Watson fellowship winners receive $25,000 for 12 months of international travel to pursue an independent study.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was established in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of the International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson. Since its inception, the program has given out over 2700 fellowships.

Olsen, a history major from Homer, Alaska, with interests in art and biology, will undertake a project titled “The International Fisherman: Cross-Cultural Themes of Global Fishing Communities.”

Her travels will lead her to New Zealand, Indonesia, Norway and the Faroe Islands. She plans to investigate the existence of an international identity among commercial fishermen.

“The Watson has been somewhat of a lifelong dream as it perfectly combines my passions for people, traveling and the ocean,” Olsen said. “In investigating different methods of commercial fishing around the globe, I hope to gain a better appreciation for the human story behind the fish we eat. I’m curious as to the challenges imposed on the industry by climate change, legislation and new technologies, and how they have shaped the narratives of individual fishermen around the globe.”

Olsen’s project is largely shaped by her own experiences. “I grew up the daughter of a commercial salmon fisherman,” she said. “Since I was 15, I have spent my summers working on different salmon-fishing operations around Alaska. My Watson project grew out of my love of being on the water, the thrill of catching a full boatload of fish and my admiration for the quirky, eccentric fishermen who were my childhood mentors and friends.” At the College, Olsen is a member of the women’s varsity crew team, served on the Williams Outing Club (WOC) board her sophomore and junior years and was a Williams Outdoor Orientation to Life as a First Year (WOOLF) leader as well as a Junior Advisor.

Wilkes is an economics, political science and German triple major from Palo Alto, Calif. She plans to attend graduate school in economics, and eventually obtain her Ph.D. “I’ll either be at UC-Berkeley in the agricultural and resource economics program or at Brown University in the economics program,” she said of her plans immediately following graduation.

The National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who plan to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees at U.S. institutions.

The fellowship grants Wilkes a $30,000 stipend per year for three years, funding which is usable over the next five years, in addition to $10,000 to $12,500 for tuition at whichever graduate institution she attends. “I’ll be using it as a stipend during my graduate studies,” Wilkes said.

At the College, Wilkes is a a coxswain on the women’s varsity crew team. In addition, she has served on the WOC board and worked as a teaching assistant, peer tutor and tour guide during her time at the College. In her junior year, Wilkes studied abroad with Williams in Africa in Cape Town.

Dusenbury and Schine were both recognized as Honorable Mention Goldwater Scholars. The Goldwater Foundation was established in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater. The goal of the foundation is to encourage talented students to pursue careers in science and math. While receiving an honorable mention does not afford students any prize money or funding, it does serve to recognize students’ abilities and accomplishments.

Dusenbury is a biology major from Grand Junction, Colo. “I am very happy and feel honored to be awarded an Honorable Mention for the Goldwater Scholarship,” she said. “Since it is such a highly respected scholarship amongst grad schools, I know it will really strengthen my application when I apply to grad schools in the fall.”

During her time at the College, Dusenbury has been involved with the Lehman Council, the Math and Science Research Center, the WOOLF program and tutoring at the local elementary schools.

This year, she is currently studying at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford. There, she has joined a soccer team and continued tutoring. She has also started to conduct bioinformatics research with one of her tutors.

Schine is a physics major from Nashville, Tenn. “I’m very honored and pleased to be chosen for the Honorable Mention,” he said. “This is a wonderful external affirmation of the efforts I’ve put into my work.”

Schine is a co-president of both the Williams College Jewish Association and Wushu, a martial arts club for which he teaches Tae Kwon Do classes.