Finley ’12 Awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Grant

Finley ’12 Awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Grant

March 23, 2017 – The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship has announced the 2017 Fellows, their 49th class of fellows. The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a one-year grant for purposeful, independent exploration outside the United States, awarded to graduating seniors nominated by one of forty partner colleges. The Watson is a rare window of time after college and pre-career where fellows engage in their deepest interest on a global scale. Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States for one year, and embrace the ensuing journey. They decide where to go, who to meet, and when to change course. They do not affiliate with academic institutions and may not hold formal employment. The program produces a year of personal insight, perspective and confidence that shapes the arc of fellows’ lives. Started in 1968, Watson Fellows comprise leaders in every field. The one year stipend is $30,000. In addition, the foundation provides (through reimbursement) health insurance and the equivalent of 12-months of payments on outstanding institutional and federally guaranteed (Perkins, Stafford) loans.

This year’s class of fellows includes Nina Finley ’12. Nina will graduate from Whitman College this May. She will be completing her fellow year in Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Russia studying the human impacts of emerging wildlife disease. Here is her written description of the project:

During my Watson year, I will explore five manifestations of ecosystem disease. In Brazil, leptospirosis is spreading from endangered peccaries to cattle. In Madagascar, deforestation is ushering people into contact with rodent vectors and lemur viruses. Coral bleaching is impacting commercial fisheries in Indonesia and dive tourism in Malaysia. And in the remote north of Russia, thawing reindeer carcasses are bringing once-eradicated anthrax back from the dead. In each country, I will begin by investigating the biology of the disease itself – its pathogen, host, and habitat – by spending several weeks in the field with ecologists and the local community. My guiding questions ask: How are you and your community affected by this disease? What related cultural practices or stories exist? What is the root problem? What actions are being taken to mitigate the impacts? By synthesizing my experiences with ecologists and community members, I hope to gather local solutions for the global threat of emerging wildlife disease, and their impact on biodiversity and human health.

CLICK HERE to see the complete list of the 2017 Fellows.

Nina was a National Merit Semi-Finalist in high school. In her collegiate career, Nina has also earned the Arthur G. Remple Scholarship in Natural History,  a NOAA Hollings Scholarship, the Udall Scholarship, and was named a Truman finalist and a 2016-17 Goldwater Scholar,  We congratulate Nina and her family on this most recent accomplishment.

Above: Bleached Coral