Stanley Undergraduate Awards: 2017 winners

In the spring of 2017, three undergraduate students received Stanley Awards worth $2,500 each for a total of $7,500 awarded. The recipients and their project summaries are listed below.

Carolyn Marie Hoemann
B.A. Ethics and Public Policy, Fundraising and Philanthropy Communication Certificate
Destination: Bournemouth, England
Project Title: Barriers to Accessing Reproductive Healthcare for Drug Users
Many people in the U.S. struggle to access healthcare services, especially those in vulnerable populations.Studies consistently show that drug users have particularly low rates of access to and utilization of reproductive health services like STD treatment, contraception, cancer screenings, and pregnancy‐related care. These low rates of access could stem from stigma that drug users face in general society and because of structural inequalities in the healthcare system. To explore the ways that a healthcare system affects reproductive healthcare access for drug users, I will go to Bournemouth, England to study the experiences that drug users have with access to healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS). The United Kingdom provides all people with essential and preventative care without cost through the NHS, and their healthcare system is consistently ranked above many peer-industrialized countries for measures of quality, access, and efficiency. A system that offers free care to everyone should mean that barriers related to cost of care are mitigated for all populations. This will highlight experiences that are unique to drug users when they seek access to reproductive healthcare, as concerns about cost and insurance coverage should not present problems. In this way, this study will quantitatively investigate concerns which are not cost‐related held by drug users when accessing and utilizing reproductive healthcare.

Benjamin Ross
B.M. Voice Performance, Education Certificate
Destination: United Kingdom
Project Title: Gerald Finzi: Towards a New British National Music
The Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research will allow me to study original unpublished scores of two song cycles for solo baritone and piano by British composer Gerald Finzi (1901‐56), Let us Garlands Bring and Love’s Labour’s Lost. This research in the United Kingdom will build on two and half years of my own study of Finzi, allowing me to complete a thesis as a part of requirements for honors in my Bachelor’s of Music. As a baritone I will also be performing lecture‐recitals of these works on and off campus over the next year. According to Finzi’s own letters, these cycles, composed from 1929‐47, were meant to express a sense of British national identity leading up to the Second World War. Their use of Shakespeare’s poetry and British folk melodies also suggest this. While abroad I will study sets of drafts and letters about these cycles at libraries in London, Oxford, and Reading. This will allow me to understand how Finzi helped to create a force to unite the British people under common musical ideals and compete with artistic movements on the European continent.

Nathaniel Weger
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Math minor
Destination: Itajubã, Brazil
Project Title: Gasification of Refuse‐Derived Fuel Pellets
The Stanley Award would make it possible for me to conduct research for my honor’s thesis . I will do this research at the Federal University of Itajubá, which is in southern Brazil near São Paulo. My lab at the University of Iowa has a partnership with the Federal University of Itajubá. My research advisor, Professor Albert Ratner, and my graduate mentor, Tejasvi Sharma, have gone to Itajubá multiple times to conduct research with their lab. Professor Electo Silva, who I will be working with as a secondary advisor for my experiments, runs the lab in Brazil. My research focus over the summer will be the gasification of refuse‐derived fuels (RDFs), also known as trash. Gasification is a process that takes in trash or other materials and uses it to produce clean energy and fertilizer. Being able to convert trash to clean energy and fertilizer would reduce the immense strain on landfill capacities around the world, and it would help replace fossil fuels as a cheap source of readily available clean energy. The research I will be conducting must be done in Brazil because they have one of the only facilities in the world capable of producing and processing trash. This experience would be central to my undergraduate degree, as it ties together several major mechanical engineering subjects and requires extensive knowledge in each of those areas. These include thermodynamics, combustion, mechatronics, and instrumentation. This will help prepare me for graduate school, where I will be learning about those subjects in even more depth, as well as for my future career, where I will be directly applying those subjects along with the skills I have gained through research. I intend to pursue a career in clean energy research and development, so research in gasification is key to making that goal a reality.