Washington and Lee University has announced the first round of Johnson Opportunity Grants for 2013, naming eight undergraduates to receive awards to support their research activities during the upcoming summer.
The students' activities are varied and include living in an "ecovillage" in Illinois; working with Engineers Without Borders in Bolivia; presenting research at the International Conference of Statistical Physics; interning in a cardiology hospital in Bulgaria; researching tourism in Greenland; tutoring children in Ecuador; improving medical access in Ghana; and participating in a healthcare project in Peru.
The grants are part of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity and are designed to help the students' in their chosen fields of study as well as in their future careers. Students will receive between $1,000 and $4,500 to cover their living, travel and other costs associated with their activities.
- Jenny Bulley, a junior from Gainesville, Ga., will intern at the UNESCO World Heritage Area Ilulissat Icefjord Office in Illulissat Greenland, a town of 5,000 on the west coast of the island. It is home to the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, the largest tourism destination in Greenland and the most researched glacier in the world. Bulley will conduct development research through surveys and interviews to analyze the economic value of the icefjord and will also lead communications projects. She plans to use her experience with underserved populations to develop a mutually beneficial partnership between the office and the Inuit population. Bulley is an economics major with a minor in poverty and human capability studies. She hopes to pursue a career in international developmental economics through corporate social responsibility. She is the community coordinator for the Generals' Christian Fellowship and a Bonner Scholar.
- Janey Fugate, a sophomore from Atlanta Ga., will spend four weeks tutoring children at Fundación Casa Victoria in Quito, Ecuador, on behalf of Washington and Lee's student-operated General Development Initiative (GenDev), which provides the project with micro-financing. She will also spend time monitoring another GenDev project in a small agricultural village north of Quito and investigate other potential micro-financing projects in the area. Fugate is a romance languages and journalism double major, a member of the W&L track and field team, and teaches English to Hispanic families on behalf of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). She is also a staff writer for W&L's Ring-Tum Phi student newspaper.
- Nicole Gunawansa will spend the summer improving medical access and education for impoverished Ghanaians. A junior neuroscience major from Portsmouth, Va., she will work at a community clinic in the small coastal town of Ada and the Apostolic Academy in Ashaiman, teaching the children creative arts, grammar and computer literacy. She hopes to help health care workers develop better relationships with patients and reach out to isolated members of the community who are otherwise unable to receive appropriate medical treatment. She is a member of the Washington and Lee Chamber Singers, a member of AmeriCorps and a Bonner Scholar. Gunawansa's community service includes the W&L Campus Kitchen, tutoring at the Maury River Middle School through the NEXT program and volunteering at the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic.
- Cort Hammond, a sophomore from Seattle, Wash., will work with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to improve water quality in Pampoyo, Bolivia, a community that is without access to sanitation systems. He will help complete a project to provide clean water by reducing the flow of organic contaminants and pathogens into the water supply. This will be accomplished by constructing two composting latrines — simple, durable concrete structures that are easy and cheap to operate. Hammond is a double major in chemistry-engineering and environmental studies. He hopes to participate in a Peace Corps mission after graduation and sees his Johnson-funded project as a logical step in preparation for doing so. He is a Johnson Scholar at W&L and volunteers at the Rockbridge Area Relief Association as well as tutoring at Waddell Elementary School.
- Katie Hintz is a junior from Weymouth, Maine. She will complete an internship with Global Crossroad, participating in their Healthcare and Medical Project in Cusco, Peru. Her specific responsibilities will be based on the needs of the community and may include public outreach and education, observing and assisting healthcare professionals, organizing and executing public health campaigns and assisting at health clinics. Hintz is a biology major, and she hopes to establish a career in public health with the ultimate aim of helping to establish healthcare systems in developing countries with extreme need. She is Johnson Scholar at W&L and a member of Women in Technology and Science (WITS) and tutors middle school children in a variety of subjects.
- Mikael Horissian is a sophomore from Lewisburg, Pa., with a double major in chemistry and neuroscience. A pre-med student, he aims to gain clinical experience by interning at the National Heart Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria. It is the largest hospital in Bulgaria specializing in cardiology and the only one specializing in pediatric cardiac surgery. He is a native speaker of Bulgarian and will observe and/or participate in doctor-patient daily interactions, examinations, surgeries and intensive care unit work. He is a Johnson Scholar at W&L.
- Vincent Kim, a junior from Grand Blanc, Mich., is a double major in physics and engineering and global politics with a minor in poverty and human capabilities studies. He will attend the 25th International Conference of Statistical Physics, which is held every three years by the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics. The conference aims to create a summary of the general field of statistical physics and to promote interaction among scientists involved in related research. Kim will both attend the conference presentations and present research by a team of W&L students and faculty that was published in the "Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment." He is a member of W&L's men's tennis team, the global outreach chair for English as a Second Language (ESOL) and a Johnson Scholar.
- James McCullum, a sophomore from Hallowell, Maine, will live and work in an intentional ecological community in Illinois and attend a Permaculture Design Course in order to learn skills to apply to the study of earth systems. The "ecovillage" strives for self-sufficiency with organic farmland and orchards, certified wildlife habitats, cooperative businesses and solar, wind and water harvesting operations. McCullum is a geology major and the environmental chair of W&L's Nabors Service League and an advocate for a permaculture demonstration site on campus.
Additional students will be selected for 2013 Johnson Opportunity Grants and will be announced at a later date.