Monday, April 17, 2023

Through the generosity of University of Iowa alumni C. Maxwell (Max) and Elizabeth (Betty) M. Stanley, the Stanley-University of Iowa Foundation Support Organization (SUIFSO) was created in 1979. Since its inception, SUIFSO has funded projects to promote public understanding and cooperative action on critical international issues all across the UI, including the creation of the Stanley Undergraduate and Graduate Awards for International Research. Stanley Awards for International Research are given annually to outstanding University of Iowa students in all academic fields for the pursuit of foreign research, learning activities in international studies, and career interests abroad. 


All UI undergraduate and graduate students in good academic standing (including non-U.S. citizens) are eligible for a Stanley Undergraduate and Graduate Award for International Research. 

Meet this year's awardees: 

student in red shirt
Isaac Addai 

MFA, acting  
Research project: Sankofa 
Destination: Ghana 
Home city: Rialto, California 

“’Sankofa’ means ‘go back and get it;’ this word is derived from the Adinkra symbol of a bird which is symbolic of returning to one's past to retrieve what is good in order to usher it into the present. I intend to go back and explore the knowledge of my motherland by utilizing historical Ghanaian artifacts from the Stanley Museum of Art as living tour guides on my journey to discover what these artifacts have to offer to my personal sense of identity as well as the greater African and Black community here in Iowa City, and in the greater United States. This research will provide experiential insight for my MFA thesis on my personal acting method. Conducting research on these historical artifacts through acting pedagogy will bring clarity to my own sense of identity which is what my artform is built on. I believe the ability to understand oneself empowers one to create a progressive framework for others to follow which strengthens everyone's sense of utility and belonging in their respective community. I desire to gain experience bridging art and academia to contextualize our past in a manner that engages our present toward the future.” 


student with glasses and black dress shirt
Luke Allan 

MFA, book arts 
Research project: Exploring the Sagas in Iceland 
Destination: Iceland 
Home country: United Kingdom 

“The Sagas are some of the most significant works in the history of Western literature. The earliest written versions of these oral tales are at once remarkable documents on the subject of family and striking examples of medieval book design. My research will consider the interaction of these two qualities in a number of Saga manuscripts and incunabula, which are held at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavik.” 


person with beard and glasses
Jordan Barger 

MFA, literary translation 
Research project: Translating Sigbjørn Obstfelder 
Destinations: Norway 
Home city: Roanoke, Virginia 

“As a literary translator, my experiences abroad are the foundation of my skill set. Having the time to pore over manuscripts will give me an even deeper understanding of Sigbjøn Obstfelder, a writer I love and have been translating for years. Engaging with primary, unpublished materials in archives adds a new dimension to the creative, critical art of literary translation. My appreciation for the Stanley Award for International Research is immeasurable.” 


student with red hat next to a chainlink fence
Elise Bickford 

MFA, literary translation 
Research project: Translating Elke – Kastanienalle 
Destination: Germany 
Home city: Falmouth, Maine 

“I will spend six weeks in Berlin, researching and translating the works of the influential German poet Elke Erb. The Stanley Award will give me the unique opportunity to visit Elke Erb’s archives and conduct interviews with Erb and other poets in Berlin. This will facilitate not only my translation work, but future scholarship in order to introduce Erb to more English-speaking audiences.” 


student with long hair and orange sweater
Cecilia Bradley 

BA, English and creative writing 
Research project: Why is Water So Sad?: Examining the Impact of Alfonsina Storni's Poetry on Modern Literature 
Destination: Argentina 
Home city: Tempe, Arizona 

“The Stanley Award for International Research will allow me to travel to Argentina to investigate the life and poetry of the early twentieth century Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni for my honors project in the undergraduate English and creative writing major. Using archival research, interviews, and translation, my two months of research in Buenos Aires with the Stanley Award will allow me to weave Storni’s poetry into a larger narrative of magic realism that examines the status of her work in the international literary community.” 


student with dark hair and sports jacket
Kayla Howerton 

PhD, neuroscience 
Research project: International Collaboration on Brain Computer Interface for Hearing 
Destination: South Korea 
Home city: Colorado Springs, Colorado 

“The Stanley Award for International Research funding will allow me to travel to South Korea to learn from Professor Kyogu Lee, who is an expert in audio signal processing, machine learning, and auditory cognitive neuroscience. This once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from Professor Lee and his team directly is vital to the success of this project.” 


student in yellow short sleeve shirt
Francisco Javier Espinosa Momox 

MFA, ceramics 
Research project: Herencia means Heritage 
Destination: Mexico 
Home city: Puebla City, Puebla 

“I plan to create an audiovisual documented experience that portrays the collaborative link between me and four artisans with a long trajectory in the field. This grant is an opportunity to fuel the pursuit of my graduate degree as it will help me reaffirm the core areas of my artistic practice.” 

student wearing glasses and blue shirt
CJ Green 

MFA, creative writing 
Research project: God's Own Country: The Language of Ecclesial Decline in Yorkshire 
Destination: United Kingdom 
Home city: Charlottesville, Virginia 

“I will be traveling to Yorkshire, England, to study several expansive oral history archives maintained in Leeds, Bradford, and elsewhere. Through a close examination of these audio recordings, I intend to map major socio-institutional shifts over the last 50 years, especially related to the evolving language of ecclesial affiliation in Yorkshire, a.k.a. God's Own Country. I'll be focusing on where and how individuals derive social support in a time of broad institutional decline. With the support of the Stanley Award, this research will inform the writing of a short story collection that explores the changing valences of religious language in the contemporary West.” 


student in black sweater smiling
Xiaoyan Kang 

MFA, playwriting 
Research project: The Words of Ants 
Destination: Jiangyong, China 
Home city: Wuxi, China   

“I will conduct research in China’s Jiangyong county for my new play The Words of Ants centered on the last natural inheritor of Nüshu. As a playwright, I am interested in individuals’ struggles against grand narratives. I believe that even though this story takes place in a vastly different culture, it raises questions that are important to every one of us regardless of our cultural backgrounds: how should we preserve a cultural heritage? How can cultural relics be symbolized and how can their meanings be altered through a modern lens? How have women’s situations changed and not changed? This research will not be possible without sufficient funding for my travel and local lodging. The Stanley Award provides the perfect opportunity for me to enter the world of the characters in my play.” 


student with long hair and gray tshirt
Sarah Khatry 

MFA, nonfiction writing 
Research project: Tigers of the Terai 
Destination: Nepal 
Home city: Iowa City, Iowa   

“My main research question explores the pressures between tiger conservation efforts and the rights of local people in Nepal. Two national parks, Bardia and Chitwan, and their surrounding areas will be my investigative focus, as they’ve been the site of the most significant conservation efforts and deadly attacks. As a journalist, I will seek perspectives from conservationists, local residents, and groups that attempt to negotiate between the needs of the two. With the support of the Stanley Award, I will pursue this project as a work of narrative journalism in the hope of a local and international impact, allowing for a more sustained and thorough investigation than any existing works of coverage and analysis, and contributing to the ongoing conversation on balancing the environment and human needs.” 


student smiling
Sun Young Lee 

MFA, creative writing 
Research project: Fictionalizing the History of South Korean Film Censorship, 1963–73 
Destination: South Korea 
Home city: New York, New York 

“Thanks to the Stanley Award, I will be able to research primary documents and archival film footage I would not have access to in the U.S. Drawing on these primary sources, I plan to depict the shift in South Korea’s nascent film industry in the ’60s with veracity in order to complete my thesis project for my MFA in creative writing. I will spend four weeks in Seoul and Daejeon, researching military dictator Park Chung-hee’s Motion Pictures Act of 1963 (and its revisions) at the Korean Film Archive and National Archives, respectively. As a Korean-American writer, I have a personal investment in writing about this history." 


student smiling
Siqi Liu 

MFA, fiction 
Research project: Years of Fewer Sparrows: Culture and Politics in 1960-1990 Hunan 
Destination: China 
Home city: Naperville, Illinois 

“This summer, I will travel to Changsha, China to conduct thesis research at the Hunan Library and the Hunan Museum. My thesis will be a short story collection that follows the Chinese diasporic experience from Hunan to the American Midwest, and spans from the Cultural Revolution to present day. The Stanley Award will advance a major portion of my thesis and eventually what I hope to be my first published collection. With the funding, I will be able to visit the Hunan Museum's Mawangdui exhibit to gather reference material for my novella. I will also be able to examine regional newspapers in the Hunan Library to learn about the historical and political context for my stories set in the Cultural Revolution's aftermath.” 


student in white dress shirt
David Lomoywara 

PhD, journalism and mass communication 
Research project: The Role of Local Radio in Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation in West Pokot County, Kenya 
Destination: Kenya 
Home city: Kapenguria, Kenya 

“This research will be insightful in understanding how radio has played a role in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) and thus inform stakeholders and actors of things that need to be changed or improved to have an effective campaign and information literacy on misinformation surrounding FGM. The Stanley Award will allow me to carry out this study which will explore the influence of radio on community members’ perception, handling of misinformation surrounding FGM, and challenges in fighting the practice.” 


student smiling
Sara Luzuriaga 

MFA, fiction writing 
Research project: Multicultural Modern Dance in Contemporary France: Writing Fiction about Montpellier Dance Festival 
Destination: France 
Home city: Havertown, Pennsylvania 

“I will spend five weeks in Paris and Montpellier, studying modern dance as a developing, shifting form in France, with a particular eye toward how France's increasing multiculturalism impacts the form. This research will facilitate a novel-in-progress about a Philadelphia-based dance company that participates in the Montpellier Dance Festival. This funding will make possible crucial research for the completion of this novel, which I will submit as my MFA thesis. It also serves as a continuation of my study of French language, literature, and culture, and provides a chance for me to incorporate my French studies and my modern dance training into my fiction writing.” 


student smiling
Sheeley McMahon 

BA, French, world language education 
Research project: Examining Factors of Language Extinction and Efforts to Prevent It: Occitan and Picard 
Destination: France 
Home city: Manchester, Iowa 

“My research project explores and compares the histories and socio-linguistic attitudes in speakers of French regional languages, particularly of Occitan and Picard, as well as the attitudes of inhabitants in the respective regions. This research was inspired by my own curiosity towards the relationship that languages have with their respective societies, and how those relationships have been maintained or have changed historically. I am extremely grateful to the Stanley UI-Foundation Support Organization for this award, not only because it covers the cost of this research project, but also because this opportunity will allow me to start contributing to the research world and work towards establishing myself in my field. As someone going into education, I'd like to continue to conduct independent research to further my knowledge in the content that I'll teach, so this opportunity is not only an investment in my education, but also in my future students' education.” 

student smiling
Yen Pham 

MFA, creative writing 
Research project: Post-War Urban and Cultural Transformation through the Diasporic Lens in Ho Chi Minh City 
Destination: Vietnam 
Home country: Australia 

“I will travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to consult the collections and archives of the Museum of Fine Arts, HCMC Museum, Southern Women’s Museum, and other institutions. My research will explore urban transformation, legacies of colonialism, and experiences of the Vietnamese diaspora, questions of central interest to me as a writer. hope to form the basis of a professional publication. This is an important step in my aspiration to a career in the humanities and teaching.” 


student wearing red glasses smiling
Man Phan 

PhD, educational policy and leadership studies 
Research project: Understanding Vietnamese Parents’ Perspectives on U.S. Public and Private Universities 
Destination: Vietnam 
Home country: Vietnam 

“This study aims to explore Vietnamese parents’ perspectives on U.S. public and private institutions. The findings of this study will add a complexity to the understanding of Vietnamese international students' college decision-making process. This study helps me to build a foundation for my dissertation. This study is a chance for me to advance my research skills and apply what I am learning by forming and implementing a research agenda. Through this study, I will reflect on what needs to be improved and more prepared for completing my dissertation.” 


student smiling
Shay Ridl 

PhD, geology 
Research project: Examining the record of Alpine and Apennine Mountain Building
Destination: Canada 
Home city: Dickinson, North Dakota 

“I am currently studying the geologic record of the Apennine mountain in northern and central Italy. My current goal is to develop new geologic datasets that will provide insight into the thermal histories of the mountain belts at the University of Calgary. The Stanley Award for International Research has provided the necessary funding to produce datasets not available at the University of Iowa. This funding will allow me to travel to, and study abroad at the University of Calgary for a month. While at the University of Calgary I will be trained in new analytical techniques and produce new datasets that will help decipher the tectonic history of northern and central Italy.”


student smiling
Othuke Umukoro 

MFA, creative writing 
Research project: The poetics of bodies, blood and water: the transatlantic slave trade 
Destination: Ghana 
Home country: Nigeria   

“This research focuses on the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa, particularly taking cognizance of the forced exodus of my enslaved ancestors to the giant stone depot and their lives within its vicious walls before they faced the deadly middle passage. I am interested in the roots of history and what springs up when they intersect with poetry. As an African studying in Iowa, the subject of the transatlantic slave trade is significant to me, especially now that profound books about black history are being erased from shelves across America. The Stanley Award for International Research funding will help me travel to Ghana to conduct research at Elmina Castle, one of the major slave-holding depots of the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa built by the Portuguese in 1482.” 


student smiling
Kelly Vu 

Research project: The Perspectives of Japanese Women Ages 18-45 on Herbal Medicine and Kampo Use for Premenstrual Syndrome Management 
Destination: Japan 
Home city: Sioux City, Iowa 

“I will be conducting interviews with patients in Japan to analyze the efficacy of Kampo, a Japanese herbal medication, in relation to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) treatment. The topic of women’s health is significant to me as the number of healthcare resources for women becomes unpredictable. Learning more about Kampo in PMS treatment can give us insight into possible accessible and affordable options for women’s health. The funds from the Stanley Award will help facilitate my travels to complete my research project in Japan. This project will allow me to gain knowledge of patients’ perspectives on Kampo and herbal medicine for PMS treatment in effort to provide quality care. I will use the data to create an academic presentation. This will help me develop my knowledge of herbal medicine and grow my skills as a future pharmacist. It will also allow me to fulfill my requirement to achieve the global health certificate.” 


student smiling
Natalia Zdaniuk 

MFA, fiction 
Research project: Students in Solidarność: The Collaborations and Tensions Between University Associations and Labour Unions During Poland’s Solidarity Movement 
Destination: Poland 
Home city: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“I plan to spend four weeks conducting archival research for a historical novel I am writing set in Poland during the pivotal years of the Solidarity Movement (Solidarność) between 1976 and the fall of Communist rule in 1989. Understood as both a labor struggle and a national fight for independence, the strength of this movement was made possible by the collaboration between workers and intellectuals. My novel seeks to examine this collaboration, focusing on human relationships, the challenges that emerged, and how they were overcome."


student smiling
Xiadi Zhai 

MFA, creative writing 
Research project: Modernizing Irish Keening to Heal from Communal Grief 
Destination: Ireland 
Home city: Boston, Massachusetts 

“Keening, from the Irish ‘caoineadh’ meaning ‘to wail’ or ‘to cry,’ emerged as a traditional poetic lament as early as the seventh century before declining in the 1950s. In the wake of global loss from the pandemic, I'm interested in reviving and modernizing these extemporaneous dirges, which were composed and performed publicly by women as a necessary part of Irish funerary rituals. While there is ongoing research to study the history of keening and some recent work to reimagine it in a modern context, this undertaking of composing a modern-day keen is novel. The Stanley Award will allow me to investigate keening from a creative, performance-based perspective. During this 34-day research project, I will utilize oral composition methods to produce a modern keen in Cork County, Ireland, where the infamous “Lament for Art O’Leary” was composed by Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. The resulting poem and performance will be an exploration of grief and mourning foundational to my poetry thesis.” 



International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.