Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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 university, 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.   

Learn more about the Stanley Awards for International Research

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: 

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Andrew Burgess 

BS, environmental sciences; BA, creative writing, philosophy 
Research project: Science and Art in Translation: Visualizing Semantic Translative Meaning through Data and Film 
Destination: Germany 
Home city: Iowa City, Iowa 

“I will be working with Berlin-based author Dr. Tzveta Sofronieva and her computer scientist colleague Tom Sühr to develop a data tool to visualize semantic meaning differences in translated texts, and to produce a short film incorporating Dr. Sofronieva's multilingual poetry and a data-driven animation using the tool, integrating my interest in filmmaking with my coursework in environmental and data science. The Stanley Award will enable me to travel to Berlin to work with and receive mentorship from these esteemed professionals, and make accessible the resources needed to complete this project at a high level. Traveling to Berlin will also enable me to work closely with Dr. Sofronieva to adapt her writing to film and explore how the complex social, environmental, and ideological divides of Berlin inspire her work and identity.” 


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Nora Connolly 

MFA, creative writing, fiction 
Research project: Around the Kitchen Table: Discourse on Irish Women’s Work, 1939-1985 
Destination: Ireland 
Home city: Boston, Massachusetts 

“I will be traveling to Dublin and Cork to research the ways in which the advent of Irish women’s radio programs and cooking schools changed the way women communicated about their food-related labor between the years 1939 and 1985. I will investigate the ways in which the increase in media directed at women allowed them to share their thinking and strategies related to the domestic labor they performed and create a sense of solidarity as workers. This research will inform my novel-in-progress and help to situate it in a larger story of women’s work, women’s writing, and the history of cooking and restaurants in the 20th century.” 


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Poonam Dhir 

MFA, playwriting 
Research project: Understanding Grief: The Study of Death Rituals in Punjab, India 
Destination: Punjab, India 
Home city: Canada 

“I will spend six weeks in Punjab, conducting essential research on death rituals, a central element of my thesis play. As a playwright, I explore identity, trauma, memory, and the relationship between belief and belonging. I contemplate themes of migration, displacement, and loss. Conducting in-person research will allow me to consider these themes as they relate to this project. The Stanley Award will give me the opportunity to immerse myself in site-specific rituals and better understand the world of my characters.” 


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Maxime Garcia Diaz 

MFA, creative writing, poetry 
Research project: The English Internet: Traces of Computing History in the United Kingdom 
Destination: United Kingdom 
Home city: The Netherlands 

“My international research project explores the history of computing and the invention of the internet. I am interested in tracing the historical development of these extremely crucial technologies, which have been reshaping human society since the 1960s, and continue to do so in newer and newer ways. This thematic constellation forms the basis of my thesis project as well as my second full-length poetry collection. The Stanley Award allows me to fund my travel to the United Kingdom, where I aim to think through some crucial threads in the historical formation of the internet-and-the-computer: for instance, I want to investigate WWII code-breaking technology and the legacy of the British computing pioneer Alan Turing. I will process these themes into my writing practice, which is research-based, to complete a project that moves between academic research and poetry.” 


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Richard Frailing 

MFA, nonfiction writing 
Research project: The Tides of History Along the Wadden Sea 
Destination: Germany 
Home city: Norfolk, Virginia 

“As an ecological writer, I will research the natural history of the Wadden Sea in northern Germany, which is the largest intertidal wetland in the world and the home of my paternal ancestors. I am particularly interested in reckoning with the German past and the ways that ideology and ecological values shape each other across time. The Wadden Sea—now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site—specifically compels me as a site for meditating on the anthropocene. With the Stanley Award, I will be able to investigate archives, interview family members, and study the ecology of the Wadden Sea in person. This research will be crucial to writing a project of creative nonfiction that both reckons with history and seeks to understand paths towards greater environmental awareness and resilience.” 


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Erica Hwang 

MFA, fiction 
Research project: Gwangju: Stories 
Destination: South Korea 
Home city: San Diego, California 

“I will visit the May 18th National Cemetery, the Gwangju National Museum, the May 18th Democratization Movement Archives, Chonnam National University Museum, and epicenters of conflict — Provincial Hall, the Catholic Center, Gwangju High School, the YMCA— to make sense of place more real in my writing. As my maternal family is from Gwangju, it has always been important for me to write about the city’s history.” 


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Spencer Jones 

MFA, nonfiction 
Research project: English Elementary School in Wartime, 1912-1920 
Destination: England 
Home city: Columbia, South Carolina 

“I will be conducting research in various archives to understand the experience of antiwar schoolteachers in England during World War I. I am interested in the intersections between conscientious objection, socialist movements, and the rise of universal schooling and professionalized teaching at the turn of the 20th century. Having taught high school myself for seven years before I came to the University of Iowa, I'm interested in using primary sources to understand how teachers understood the meaning of their vocation before, during, and after a national crisis. The Stanley Award will allow me to conduct on-the-ground primary source research in Derby, a city where there was significant commitment to socialist politics and antiwar advocacy. My MFA thesis profiles a family of antiwar teachers who were charged with conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1916. The Stanley Award will allow me to conduct research at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford and the National Archives at Kew, where the transcripts and papers pertaining to the trial are housed. This funding will help me understand how wartime politicized teaching as a profession, and how one family in particular became caught in, and responded to, that crossfire.” 


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Jeremy Karn 

MFA, creative writing, poetry 
Research project: The Narratives of How Liberia Used Children as Fuel for a Civil War 
Destination: Switzerland 
Home city: Monrovia, Liberia 

“Thanks to the Stanley Award, it will enable me to gather first-hand accounts of children who were abducted as child soldiers, children who went missing from their families and children who suffered horrendous abuses at the hands of rebels during a protracted civil war that was documented by the International Committee of the Red Cross. This award will afford me the resources, time, and space to complete my thesis and to uncover stories about how the children of Liberia were pinched into this lasting trauma from their experiences because their country used them to fuel the prolongation of a civil war—which will be the bedrock of my MFA thesis.” 


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Stephanie Krzywonos 

MFA, nonfiction 
Research project: Ice Folx: Stories from the Margins of Antarctic History 
Destination: England 
Home city: Holland, Michigan 

“After living and working in Antarctica for seven seasons, I realized that, as a woman of color, I couldn't see myself in traditional polar narratives, so I set out to write a book that profiles people on the margins of Antarctic history. In England, I'll examine unpublished primary source material from the tragic and legendary Terra Nova Expedition. Specifically, two of the men on that expedition could be the first documented queer relationship in Antarctic history; another of their fellow explorers is likely the first trans woman. England holds a trove of unpublished primary source material on the so-called ‘golden era' of Antarctic history, and the Stanley Award will enable me to access these priceless archives.” 


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Sofia Kwon 

MFA, creative writing, fiction 
Research project:  Representing Korean History: Contextualizing the Jeju Massacre within Twentieth-Century South Korean Global Development 
Destination: South Korea 
Home city: West Orange, New Jersey 

“I am a first-year fiction student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop seeking to conduct research in South Korea to finish my MFA thesis project. My research will focus on a historical event, the April 3 Jeju Uprising and Massacre, to illuminate how state violence and United States global involvement contributed to the broader process of North and South Korea’s division, in order to depict Korean history in my work with nuance and care. Through the Stanley Award, I will visit various archival sites in Korea to use primary documents about the Jeju Massacre for which I wouldn’t otherwise have access. I’ll also seek to walk through various historical sites in Jeju Island related to the massacre, which the characters in my novel will also visit.” 


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Yegene Lee 

MFA, creative writing, fiction 
Research project:  Re-examining Modern Korean Identity Through Traditional Folklore 
Destination: South Korea 
Home city: Los Angeles, California 

“The research conducted this summer will support my MFA thesis project, a collection of ten short stories attempting to understand the common imagined Korean identity as it exists currently, both in Korea and abroad in the diaspora, through a re-interpretation of traditional folklore. Specifically, I hope to retell four major folktales (the Tale of Shim-cheong, the Legend of the Gumiho, the Legend of Arang, and the Song of Sun and Moon), in the same modern literary tradition of Angela Carter, Helen Oyeymi, and Bora Chung. Through the Stanley Award, I will access oral history recordings and primary documents at the National Archives of Korea in Daejeon and visit physical shrines in Gyeongsang-do and Jeju Island dedicated to major figures in Korean folklore. With the grant, I will track the evolution of women in folklore, as both storytellers and characters, and how their representation shifts based on whether the folk tale follows shamanic (the indigenous Korean religion), Buddhist, or Confucian tradition.” 


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Ugochukwu Madu 

PhD, journalism and mass communication 
Research project:  Ogbanje” – the Sickle Cell Disease Misinformation in Nigeria: Media as a SOURCEtainable Solution 
Destination: Nigeria 
Home city: Enugu, Enugu state, Nigeria 

“This study investigates the role of mass media in combating Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) misinformation in Enugu, Nigeria, where SCD has been misinterpreted as Ọgbanje (a traditional phenomenon). This research not only addresses a critical public health issue but also serves as a preliminary step toward my dissertation, which focuses on public health and misinformation. Additionally, the findings will contribute to public health, sickle cell, and misinformation scholarships, potentially offering insights into how mass media can be leveraged to eradicate SCD and misinformation in Nigeria and beyond. Given that I am getting ready for my candidacy petition and dissertation proposal, this Stanley Award will enable me to get preliminary findings to work on my dissertation proposal on health misinformation.” 


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Sophia Musoki 

MA, geography 
Research project: Ugandan Women Farmers and Knowledge of Indigenous Vegetables 
Destination: Uganda 
Home city: Kisinga Sub-County, Kasese 

“My research explores the role that women’s material lived experiences play in contributing to the production and preservation of food knowledge of indigenous and wild leafy green vegetables. I aim to explore how food knowledge is produced and passed on/preserved by women subsistence farmers and how this knowledge can inform efforts towards climate-related challenges such as global hunger. The Stanley Award will enable me to conduct vital research in western Uganda, among women subsistence farmers to answer my research questions. Using the financial assistance from the award, I will travel to Uganda and collect vital data that will contribute to my thesis and program completion.” 


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Mofiyinfoluwa Okupe 

MFA, nonfiction 
Research project: Mothertongue: Matrilineal Reckonings and Remembrances 
Destination: Nigeria 
Home city: Lagos, Nigeria 

Mothertongue is a project committed to tracing matrilineal ancestry through the land of southwestern Nigeria first to trace the life and times of my maternal grandmother and secondly to investigate and give words to the portrayals of ‘mother’ within the Yoruba traditional mythology and cosmology. This research is important to me because it seeks to combat the erasure of women in hyper-patriarchal societies while showcasing the redemptive force of memory to create art and preserve ancestors. Mothertongue is a project committed to tracing matrilineal ancestry through the land of southwestern Nigeria first to trace the life and times of my maternal grandmother and secondly to investigate and give words to the portrayals of ‘mother’ within the Yoruba traditional mythology and cosmology. This research is important to me because it seeks to combat the erasure of women in hyper-patriarchal societies while showcasing the redemptive force of memory to create art and preserve ancestors.” 

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Alejandro Mauricio Ruiz Zepeda

MFA, creative writing
Research project: Argentina’s “complete memory” policy and the rise of erotic content in the country’s current political landscape
Destination: Argentina 
Home city: Brussels, Belgium 

“I'm working on a novel set in Buenos Aires that explores the psycho- and sociological forces behind the country's political changes. I will collect crucial on-site and interview materials needed to shape the psychological profile of my characters, understand the country's current political changes, as well as being able to recreate the setting. The novel will hopefully shed light not only over the current political situation in Argentina but also in Latin America. A Stanley grant is fundamental to the success of my MFA thesis."


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Joshua Thermidor 

MFA, creative writing, poetry 
Research project:  Imperium: Violence of Language in Empire's Cradle 
Destination: United Kingdom 
Home city: Buffalo, New York 

“’A hurricane does not roar in pentameters,’ said Kamau Brathwaite, speaking of imperial language’s inability to convey the Caribbean experience. From colonization of the West Indies, to West Indian regiments in World War I, to Windrush, to Grenfell— Britain has given countless evidence of how empires plunder their 'subjects.' Over a month, I will research the experiences of Caribbean migrants to Britain through the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, the George Padmore Institute in Finsbury Park, and the British National Library. This research will be formative for my writing practice and serve as source material for my graduate thesis, a poetry collection about statehood, identity, and the power of lineage. Without the help of the Stanley Award funding, it would be far more difficult to make this journey. The Stanley Award is also a really great opportunity to develop research skills needed for my future plans in academia.” 


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Emily Wieder 

PhD, French and francophone world studies 
Research project: Out from the Shadows: Women Surrealists who Resisted the Nazis in Paris 
Destination: France 
Home city: Coopersburg, Pennsylvania 

“My project will investigate claims about two surrealist poets’ wives (Nusch Éluard and Jacqueline Lamba) and determine their role in the Resistance against the Nazi Occupation of Paris (1940-1944). By consulting archives and museum collections in Paris, I intend to valorize the role women surrealists played in the Resistance, which has not yet been fully developed in the scholarship. My prospectus, dissertation, future articles, and eventual scholarly collaborations will grow from this research. Obtaining the Stanley Award at this moment in my academic career – which coincides with the 100th anniversary of surrealism, a pivotal event for a rising scholar to witness – will equip me to make breakthrough contributions to this field.” 


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Jeffrey Xiong 

MFA, creative writing, fiction 
Research project: Memory and Revolution in Chinese Contemporary Art 
Destination: Hong Kong 
Home city: South Pasadena, California 

“At the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong, I will engage with archival material of major Chinese artistic movements and artists of the 80s, including the China Avant-garde and China’s New Art, Post-1989 exhibitions, to properly depict the artistic zeitgeist of this period, and inform my depictions of both the historical and speculative settings of my novel. I am specifically interested in the ways through which contemporary and avant-garde art defy the societal establishments of their time, carry the power to incite change, and reflect society at a slant. 


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Miharu Yano 

MFA, literary translation 
Research project: Translating Kora ~ Postwar Feminist Poetics ~ 
Destination: Japan 
Home city: Tokyo, Japan 

“My project is to examine the manuscripts of Japanese poet Kōra Rumiko (1932-2021) in Tokyo, Japan. Her work is extensive, with her career spanning over 70 years, and her influence as a poet and a feminist historian is felt both in literary and academic spheres. I genuinely believe Kora’s work should be read by more people. The scope of this project goes beyond my own academic progress- she deserves a wider readership, and translation is one cogent way to achieve this. Access to Kora's manuscripts, which are only available in the Kora Rumiko Reference Room until the end of 2024, will provide me with the necessary materials to translate her work as I develop my thesis on Kora Rumiko.” 


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Lara Zeng 

MFA, creative writing 
Research project: Theater in the Public Eye 
Destination: Singapore 
Home city: Boston, Massachusetts 

“With the support of the Stanley Award, I will conduct experiential performance and theater-based research in the unique city-state of Singapore. I am interested in the effects of state regulation, funding, and cultural policy on the Singaporean performing arts landscape, especially as they pertain to artwork and institutions such as Loo Zihan’s ‘Cane,’ the Singapore Fringe Festival, the Sands Theatre, professional-level student drama clubs, and Wayang (Chinese Street Opera). The ekphrastic work I produce will serve as the foundation for my MFA thesis in creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. As an aspiring multinational arts educator, I will also gain a greater understanding of effective arts pedagogy by illuminating and immersing myself in student and professional Singaporean theater.” 


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.