Monday, April 29, 2024
student smiling

Alex Bezahler, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Iowa, has been awarded a 2024 David L. Boren Fellowship to study Georgian and conduct fieldwork in Tbilisi, Georgia, next year.  

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  
Degree: PhD candidate in political science 

Were there experiences at Iowa that inspired your decision to pursue a Boren?  
Working with the International Programs office inspired me to pursue a Boren, since they made me aware of it and the benefits of doing such a fellowship. While exploring fellowships to spend a year conducting research abroad, the Boren stood out to me because of its focus on language studies and national security. Finally, the federal service requirement was exciting to me because I have worked for the government in the past and found the work environment to be interesting. 

What drew you to your language studies?  
For my dissertation, I am planning on interviewing policy experts and government officials. To do this, I want to have a basic understanding of Georgian so that I can navigate the country. Languages also offer great insight into a country’s history and culture. Being able to speak basic Georgian will allow me to order food, ask for directions, and greet people in their own language, which will bring me closer to the country. 

How do you foresee this influencing your future career?  
The Boren has a requirement for federal service, so I anticipate working in the federal sector, at least for a few years. Since I am also interested in a career as an academic, I hope that my federal service will inform my ability to teach students with real-world examples of political science in action. 

What excites you most about spending a year in your host country?  
Aside from learning Georgian, I am excited to eat Georgian food and to explore the country. As someone who enjoys the outdoors, Georgia is an incredible country for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. Finally, I am looking forward to learning more about the country’s history by visiting the numerous monasteries and ancient buildings that dot the countryside. 

Do you have professors or mentors you'd like to thank?  
My two co-advisors have been especially helpful in mentoring me: Elise Pizzi and Marina Zaloznaya. Bill Reisinger and Sara Mitchell from my department were also incredibly helpful during my fellowship application cycle. 

The Boren Fellowships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. graduate and undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.  



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.