German Studies Fulbright winners (L-R) Matthew Thompson, Lindsay Jansen, Stephen Cottle, Jessica Wuebker, Patrick Carey, Christopher Noble and Colin Donohoe.
Fourteen Fulbrights include eight to Germany
By Mark Sullivan
Raise a stein to German Studies, which has produced eight of BC's 14 Fulbright winners this spring. The eight awards to Germany are a record tally by the small department that prides itself on its amicable spirit of Gemütlichkeit while annually turning out as many Fulbrights as a good liberal arts college.
[After the print edition of the Chronicle was published May 12 came news of the record-setting eighth Fulbright to Germany, to Erina Megowan '05, and of a graduate Fulbright to Rev. Scott Steinkerchner, OP PhD '05 (Theology), who will be going to Nepal. This online report has been updated with the latest information.]
Since 1985, students prepared by German Studies have won 50 of the coveted grants for post-baccalaureate study abroad, 41 of them in the past 10 years, including seven in 1998 and eight this year.
"Our students never cease to amaze me," said German Studies chairman Prof. Michael Resler. "As soon as I think we've had the best students ever, the next year comes along and they're better yet."
Meantime, Fulbrights to India and Costa Rica are believed to be the first to those countries won by BC applicants, said Assoc. Prof. Margaret Thomas (Slavic/Eastern Languages), the University's Fulbright coordinator.
"On top of the stunning success of this year's Fulbright awards to Germany, awards to India, Costa Rica, Switzerland, France and Bulgaria indicate the growing geographical range of our undergraduates' aspirations," said Thomas.
She noted the disciplines in which the grants have been made include biology, environmental studies, psychology, museum studies, philosophy, international relations, and teaching.
Fulbright winners were asked to describe their research projects and to mention BC teachers who have provided inspiration. The following capsules were drawn from their responses:
Patrick Carey '05, a Mathematics and Philosophy major and German minor from New York City, will study the philosophy of mathematics at the University of Göttingen in Germany.
His research will focus on Georg Cantor's transfinite numbers and the work of Leopold Kronecker, as well as that of other great mathematicians and philosophers who taught there. He is considering graduate studies in math or philosophy on his return.
Inspiring teachers: Prof. Pat Byrne (Philosophy), advisor on his Senior Honors Thesis; Adj. Prof. Mary Joe Hughes (A&S Honors); Assoc. Prof. Ned Rosen (Mathematics); Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies).
"I think that the Advanced Study Grant I won in my freshman year to study in Germany during the summer, as well as my junior year abroad in Vienna, broadened my horizons in many ways, and I am sure that without either of them I would not have pursued a Fulbright award," Carey adds.
Stephen Cottle '05, an International Studies and German major from Beverly, Mass., heads to Germany to conduct research at the University of Trier and at Green Party archives in Berlin on the influence of the Green Party on German foreign policy.
He plans on his return to pursue graduate studies. Inspiring teachers: "Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies) urged me for years to apply, and provided invaluable time and assistance in the application process. [Instructor] Hiroshi Nakazato GSAS '05 of the International Studies Department has been a major source of support and help in my academic career at BC.
Colin Donohoe '05, a Biology major and German minor from Sterling, Mass., will travel to T½bingen, Germany, to study cell migration in developing fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). He plans afterward to work for a time in Europe, perhaps in Ireland, and then pursue graduate studies in biology.
Inspiring teachers: "As every Fulbrighter out of the German department [will relate], Prof. Michael Resler plants the Fulbright seed into our heads very early," Donohoe writes. "I can remember the day very well. I went to visit Dr. Resler at his office hours. I was a freshman, and it was my first visit to any office hour at BC. Naturally, I didn't know what to expect, and here was this professor already telling me that I could win this scholarship. It's nice to have faculty that are so confident in their students. And of course, for anyone who enters the German department, it's hard to leave since we're all well loved there. I can't imagine many people leaving the German program once they get a taste of it.
"My project wouldn't be possible were it not for my ongoing research in Dr. Marc Muskavitch's lab in the Biology Department. BC encourages undergraduate research so much, and I'm very thankful for the opportunity to have done it myself. I was at first hesitant to try research, but I'm glad I tried it out. Look where I am now! Like the German department, Marc and the graduate students in his lab have so much confidence in undergraduates. Marc's lab is a perfect place to be for a budding scientist, and whenever the inevitable difficulties with research arise, the Muskavitch lab has been patient and supportive.
"I should also mention the Advanced Study Grants program, which was a warmup to the fellowship application process. I think that the Advanced Study Grants program is one of the best programs running at BC. I don't know of any similar programs at other colleges either. At least, my friends at Brown and Johns Hopkins were quite envious when I told them about it. My Advanced Study Grant to Germany after my sophomore year was absolutely necessary for my success with the Fulbright application."
Kristen Faucetta '05, a Political Science major and East European Studies and History minor from Pompton Lakes, NJ, has received a Fulbright to Bulgaria, where she will study the lot in life of young adults who were raised in the country's orphanages.
Her research will build on her senior thesis, a comparative study of state policies toward orphans in Bulgaria, Romania and Russia. She plans on her return to work for a non-governmental organization or to attend graduate school.
Inspiring teachers: Part-time Faculty Member Mariela Dakova (Slavic/Eastern Languages), Assoc. Prof. Gerald Easter (Political Science), and Adj. Prof. Mark O'Connor (A&S Honors). "When Prof. Dakova came to my political science class freshman year and spoke about the Bulgarian language program, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. In the three years since, she has made every moment interesting and enjoyable. Prof. Easter was my thesis advisor this year, and always reminded me that I actually loved writing all 130-plus pages. His classes have been among my favorites, due to the subject material and his wonderful personality. I took Prof. O'Connor's honors class sophomore year, and it made me think more than any other at BC ‚ which is precisely why I loved it. His humanity cannot be praised enough."
Lindsay Jansen '05, a political science major from Arden Hills, Minn., has received a Fulbright teaching assistantship to Germany, and will teach English, with a business and entrepreneurial emphasis, at a high school in Nordrhein-Westfalen. She plans on her return to attend law school or to pursue graduate work in German Studies, perhaps with an eye toward teaching.
Inspiring teachers: "Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies) encouraged me Ç early and often Ç to apply, and was instrumental in narrowing my focus and [my] realizing how my unique experiences could strengthen my application. This helped me to know that it's not just about getting a Fulbright, but also about expressing a passion. I also received support throughout the year from my thesis advisor, Assoc. Prof. David Deese (Political Science)."
Erina Megowan '05 will go to Germany to study the literature of dissent by East German lyric poets of the 1960s.
Ryan Murray '03, of Huntington Beach, Calif., who majored in psychology and minored in French at BC, travels to Geneva, Switzerland to pursue research at a psychiatric hospital into the neurological and cognitive effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in relation to a rare genetic disorder called Velocardofacial Syndrome (VCFS).
"We will be targeting specific areas of the brain that have yet to be examined in relation to ADHD and VCFS," he writes. "By narrowing the potential regions of the brain associated with ADHD, it is our hope that such analyses will contribute in the early detection of cognitive and neurological lapses that are symptomatic of this disorder."
His future plans include graduate studies in international affairs.
Christopher Noble '05, a Philosophy and German Studies major from Slingerlands, N.Y., travels to Freiburg, Germany, to pursue research on the 20th-century German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. He plans on his return to enroll in the Ph.D program in philosophy at Fordham.
Inspiring teacher: "I never would have applied for a Fulbright without the advice and guidance of Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies). I'm sure that's a pretty common response for Fulbrighters to Germany."
Hannah Nolan-Spohn '05, a Presidential Scholar from Forest Park, Ill., majoring in Environmental Geoscience, travels to Monteverde, Costa Rica, to study how various demographic characteristics affect views on environmental conservation.
"Monteverde is home to a well-preserved cloud forest and a diverse population, which includes Quaker settlers, native Costa Ricans, researchers and tourists from around the world, farmers, ecotourism entrepreneurs, and cooperative workers," she writes.
"This diverse population represents varying interests in land use and preservation, which are critical to both the ecological and economic health of the area.
"Costa Rica has been at the forefront of Latin American countries in conservation efforts, and there is a wealth of scientific research being conducted there. By studying the residents of Monteverde, clear patterns of demographic influence on conservation attitudes and behaviors may emerge, as well as detailed information about what the various residents of Monteverde actually want for and from their land."
She plans on her return to enter a Ph.D. program that combines urban planning, landscape architecture, and environmental science.
Inspiring teachers: Prof. Juliet Schor (Sociology); Prof. Marc Landy (Political Science); Research Assoc. Prof. Eric Strauss (Biology); Senior Lecturer Debbie Rusch (Spanish); graduate teaching fellow William Reyes-Cubides (Spanish).
Michael Scahill '05, a Presidential Scholar from Clarks Summit, Pa., majoring in Biochemistry, heads to New Delhi, India, to work at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology on research into a potential vaccine for malaria.
His study will focus on a protein expressed by a malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which attacks pregnant women. He plans on his return to attend medical school, perhaps pursuing a joint MD/PhD.
Inspiring teacher: In the lab of Prof. Marc Muskavitch (Biology), he has pursued research into amino acids in a protein called Delta that is part of a biochemical pathway vital to human and animal development. "I've learned so much at BC, mostly from my lab experiences," he says.
Christy Slavik '05, a French major and History minor from Portland, Ore., heads to France to teach English at L'Academie de Rouen, a secondary school.
"I have been somewhat a francophile since I started studying the language in high school," she writes. "After spending a semester abroad during my junior year, I became determined to return to France, and the Fulbright program will be a wonderful way to do so. I look forward to the challenges that a year in France will bring and I anticipate a wonderful "s»jour" in Rouen."
Inspiring teachers: "I have received much encouragement from all the faculty in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department."
Matthew Thompson '05, of Menasha, Wisc., a Sociology major and German and Music minor in the A&S Honors program, goes on a teaching assistantship to Germany, where he will divide his time between English- and American Studies instruction and community enrichment activities.
Building on his Senior Honors Thesis project in the use of performance art in social criticism, he will work with students and the community to express opinion through acting, singing and dancing.
On his return he will pursue graduate studies in musical theater at the Boston Conservatory. Inspiring teacher: "Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies) set my mind on a Fulbright as a freshman, even though I didn't take a class taught by him until junior year."
Jessica Wuebker '05, a German major from Gloucester City, N.J., is going to Dresden to work at the Dresden Historical Museum, reopening this year for the city's 500th anniversary.
"My research will consist of comparing the new museum exhibits, particularly the exhibit regarding the Weimar Republic, with the museum exhibits as they existed when Dresden was under Communist rule, and as they existed from 1990 until the museum closed for renovation in 2000," she writes. "I will also be translating guidebooks and related materials and assisting with tours."
She plans on her return to attend law school. Inspiring teachers: Prof. Michael Resler and Assoc. Prof. Rachel Freudenberg (German Studies), Prof. James Bernauer, SJ (Philosophy).
Meantime, in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Rev. Scott Steinkerchner, OP PhD '05, a newly-minted PhD in Theology who was the subject of a feature in the Chronicle this past December, has been awarded a Fulbright to Nepal.
Fulbrights won by undergraduates (graduating seniors and recent alumni counted as BC applicants) are tallied separately from those won by graduate students, so the combined Fulbright count for BC this spring is 13 undergraduate, one graduate.