The University of Iowa

Stanley Award for International Research recipient reflects on her experience in India

April 14th, 2020
Emma Sillman in India

Emma Sillman at Mysuru Palace in Mysuru, India

The University of Iowa offers Stanley Awards for International Research for graduate and undergraduate students pursuing research and learning activities in international studies not available on campus. Emma Sillman, UI undergraduate studying global health studies and economics, was a recent recipient of funding through the Stanley Awards for International Research. That funding helped her complete a research project in India. During the summer 2019 term, Sillman spent three weeks in Mysore, India, taking classes; then spent the remainder of her stay working at a hospital in Sargur, India.

“For two weeks at the hospital I did a project for my program and then the last four or five weeks I did my Stanley research project,” Sillman said.

The first research project Sillman worked on was assessing the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of pregnant women. For this project, Sillman developed a short survey based on a document with health information critical to pregnant women. Then, Sillman and three translators gave that survey to 30 women, investigating India’s prenatal education system.

For Sillman’s second project, she conducted a survey in the hospital and neighboring villages. In this 300-person survey, Sillman’s goal was to understand general practices of self-medication.

“I worked 5 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I worked in the field with community health workers, in the office analyzing data, and independently finishing my Stanley research project. It was cool having the freedom and trust to do my own projects,” Sillman said.

"My time abroad was a great learning experience for my patience, flexibility, and dependability"

During the application process for Stanley Award funding, Sillman worked with two University of Iowa faculty members to create her proposal, accumulate letters of recommendation, build a budget, fine-tune her resume, and fulfill other application requirements. Sillman completed her application in early February 2019, and by the end of the month she received her acceptance letter.

“The most important bit of advice I can share with future applicants is to not get discouraged if the application seems difficult. Stay on top of the application, work with faculty and other resources at Iowa who are here to help,” Sillman said.

Sillman said she applied for the Stanley Award because many of her global studies courses had a project development requirement which she enjoyed creating, researching, and sharing with her peers. Sillman wanted to take what she learned at Iowa to the next level, gaining real world, resume-worthy experiences.

“I learned a lot. My original Stanley proposal was not even what I ended up doing but I feel like I came out with a good project and good results. My time abroad was a great learning experience for my patience, flexibility, and dependability,” Sillman said.

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