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One with Nature: MHC's Changing Landscape

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Mount Holyoke's Pluralistic Faculty

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When it comes to prestigious academic scholarships for American undergraduates, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) grant, the Fulbright fellowship, and the Goldwater scholarship are tops. Thousands of young scholars vie for these awards, and Mount Holyoke students have a history of faring extremely well against stiff national competition. This year was no exception.

A Fulbright for Takahashi

  Kiyoko C. Takahashi.
Over the past twenty years, Fulbright awards have enabled Mount Holyoke students to study everything from literature in Pakistan to women's tobacco clubs in Malawi. A Fulbright will take Kiyoko C. Takahashi '01 to Japan for the next academic year. There, she will focus on cancer prevention research. The biological sciences major graduated magna cum laude in May, completing an honors thesis on cell adhesion molecules in microscopic organisms known as Dictyostelium discoideum. In Japan, Takahashi will research the development of chemotherapeutic agents derived from traditional medicines and natural resources. Raised in New York, she has visited relatives in Japan, and speaks “a little bit of Japanese," but views the coming year as a significant cultural and professional immersion. The Fulbright program was created by the United States Congress in 1946 to foster understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges.

Goldwater Times Three
Thanks to their stellar achievements in mathematics and science, three students struck gold this year, Goldwater, that is. The Goldwater scholarship is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering and is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Elizabeth H. Burrows '02

Elizabeth H. Burrows.  
Scientific and mathematical abilities run in the family of Elizabeth H. Burrows '02—her father has a Ph.D. in biophysics and physiology and works for NASA. Burrows intends to follow suit by earning a Ph.D. that combines mathematics and environmental studies. Since the summer after her sophomore year, Burrows has been getting her feet wet in environmental research by working with Jill Bubier, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, at a New Hampshire wetland. By comparing different methods for measuring carbon dioxide exchange between the wetland ecosystem and the atmosphere, the research will contribute to a long-term study of environmental controls on greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands in collaboration with scientists at the University of New Hampshire. Burrows, a double major in mathematics and environmental studies, is back at the New Hampshire site this summer, conducting research and serving as a mentor for a younger Mount Holyoke student as part of the College's Student Summer Research Cascade Mentoring Program.

Callan Ordoyne '03

  Callan Ordoyne.
Upon arriving at Mount Holyoke, Callan Ordoyne '03 immediately took some giant steps toward reaching her goal of pursuing ecological research and a doctorate in ecology. She and Clarisse Hart '03 were the only students in a first-year tutorial on latitudinal gradients in species diversity of wetland plants and animals taught by Aaron Ellison, Fisher Professor of Environmental Studies. “This year, Calley and Clarisse extended the work begun in our tutorial in their independent research on the diversity of spiders in bogs," says Ellison. “In order to do this work, they learned the intricacies of spider identification and taxonomy, a rare skill. They are now two of three experts on spider identification in the region." This summer Hart and Ordoyne, a biological sciences major, are conducting a study of a possible competitive interaction between web-building spiders and carnivorous pitcher plants in a bog near the College. This project, supported by the National Science Foundation, will be one of the few studies ever undertaken of competition for resources between a plant and an animal.

Margaret K. Trias '03

Margaret K. Trias  

Margaret Trias's father and brother both considered careers in physics and ended up becoming lawyers. Trias, a physics major, seems determined not to let any of the forces in the universe propel her in that direction—she is firmly resolved to pursue a Ph.D. in physics. Her early influences include science-related dinnertime conversation with her father and the cosmologically based bedtime stories he told her. More recently, she has been inspired by working with lasers under the guidance of Janice Hudgings, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics. Trias plunged into laser-related research the summer after her first year, participating in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute summer program at the College. For the last year, she has been working on an independent research project in Hudgings's lab, examining the beam profile of a new type of semiconductor laser. Says Hudgings, “I fully expect that Maggie's work will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. She impressed me from the start with her determination and independence."

Two Generations of DAAD Grant Winners

  Jette Christiansen '01 and her father, Mount Holyoke professor of economics Jens Christiansen.

For Jette Christiansen '01, it's a case of like dad, like daughter—at least where the DAAD grant is concerned. The Latin American studies major and politics minor was awarded a DAAD grant for the next academic year, the same grant her father, Mount Holyoke professor of economics Jens Christiansen, received thirty-one years ago as a graduate student at Germany's Hamburg University. The grant enabled the elder Christiansen to study economics at Stanford University. Now the DAAD will allow his daughter, who graduated summa cum laude from the College in May, to spend ten months in Hamburg researching transnational migration and citizenship in Germany. Expanding on her honors thesis, which focused on the immigration of Mexicans to the United States, Christiansen will investigate how African migrants in Hamburg renegotiate their identity, membership, and rights in the context of changing German immigration policy and attitudes of German citizens. DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service) is a private, self-governing organization of the universities in Germany. It promotes international relations between institutions of higher education, especially in the fields of academic and scientific exchange. Its fellowship program provides a year of study at a German university to graduates of United States colleges and universities.