The University of Iowa

Stanley Graduate Awards: 2017 winners

In the spring of 2017, 21 graduate students received Stanley Awards worth a total of $50,000. The recipients and their project summaries are listed below. 

D. Michael Benson
Ph.D. History
Destination: Mexico City, Mexico
Project Title: German Anthropology and the Making of Modern Mexico, 1876 ‐ 1940
For my Stanley Graduate Award, I will survey archival materials critical to the completion of my dissertation prospectus on the history of anthropology and archeology in Mexico. As the sources necessary to complete my work are inaccessible outside of Mexican archives, I will spend five weeks conducting research in Mexico City. My project explores the lives of Eduard Seler and Cecilia Seler‐Sachs, particularly their seven expeditions to Mexico in order to understand the intersections of gender and social science and their impacts on Mexican elite nation building between 1876 and 1940. Originally invited to Mexico by dictator Porfirio Diaz, it is clear that Mexican elites harnessed German science for their own purposes. They used it to reshape notions of nation and race, to identify and define an archeological patrimony, and to help legitimize their rule across the rupture of the revolution. The exact character of that process, however, remains opaque. We do not yet know how, exactly, German scientists and Mexican political and scientific elites influenced each other or how their efforts combined to produce knowledge about the Mexican past and present.

Charles Lounsbury Black
M.F.A. Creative Writing
Destination: Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia
Project Title: Revisiting the Country Estate: Noble and Peasant Interaction in 19th‐Century Russia
I will spend four weeks in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, researching the country estates of nobles in the mid‐19th century. The work will inform the writing of my MFA thesis at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop: a historical novel narrating the journey of a military officer who walks from Moscow across the provinces to revisit his family’s lost ancestral estate. Through research at preserved estates and at museums and archives that hold the visual art and artifacts of mid‐19th‐century estate life, I will develop a concrete understanding of the lived experience of the estate from both landowner and serf perspectives. My research will allow me to develop my novel with the historical rigor and insight necessary in using fiction to investigate questions of class in a foreign culture. By publishing this novel as my debut, I hope to launch my career as a fiction writer who explores ideas of class through history and across cultures.

Hope Campbell Campbell Gustafson
M.F.A. Literary Translation
Destination: Rome, Italy
Project Title: Translating Roman "Island" vignettes while fully immersed
A Graduate Stanley Award for International Research will allow me to conduct fieldwork in Rome for four weeks. I want to translate many non‐fiction vignettes from Marco Lodoli's collections Isole (Islands) and Nuove Isole (New Islands). The finished product will become part of my MFA thesis. Research in Rome will consist of both experiencing the locations described in the text while translating it, and discussing my translation with the author. The vignettes were written for Romans by a Roman, with the objective of reminding his audience of the beauty of small, overlooked places in their city. My goal, as a foreigner who has some insight into Rome and its culture, is to become as intimately connected to these places as possible in order to translate the words, images, and feelings for an English‐speaking audience. This fieldwork, and contact with the writer (who likewise immersed himself when writing), will be  indispensable for a translation that does the original text justice.

Mengtian Chen
Ph.D. Second Language Acquisition
Destination: Beijing, China
Project Title: Measuring Second Language Speech Fluency in Students Learning Chinese in China
The Stanley Graduate Award for International Research will allow me to spend 8 weeks at Beijing Language and Culture University in Beijing, China to conduct research on how students learning Chinese perform in terms of Chinese speech fluency. Speaking fluently in second language is very difficult for adult learners, no matter what kind of second language they are learning. It is not a matter of mastering vocabularies and grammar, but the ability to combine words into a grammatically acceptable sentence in fast‐flow speech. My project is intended to explore students’ speech features such as speech speed, and people’s perception of second language fluency. By investigating the performance of 120 learners from different first language backgrounds such as French, Russian and Korean, I will get a more general idea of the fluency problems learners may have. This can hardly be done in the U.S., where the majority of students learning Chinese are beginners with English as their first language. The research will also help me establish a general profile on the construct of speech fluency in Chinese as a second language, which can be used in future studies on fluency trainings in Chinese classes. This project will serve as preliminary research for my Ph.D. dissertation in the field of second language speech fluency.

Jennifer Caitlin Dibbern
M.A. Spanish
Destination: Seoul, South Korea
Project Title: How is learning a third language different than a learning a second?: Third‐language acquisition of Spanish by Korean‐English bilinguals
I am applying for the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research in order to travel to Seoul, South Korea for six weeks to investigate how the languages a bilingual has already acquired may affect how they perceive or learn consonants in their third language. I will recruit fifteen Korean‐English bilinguals who are learning Spanish to complete tasks identifying and discriminating between consonants in their three languages. This research will serve as a preliminary linguistic study for my Master’s thesis in Spanish Linguistics and is foundational to the work I plan to continue throughout my career. Through analysis of the results, I hope to identify practical instructional techniques to support third language acquisition.

Oronde Drakes
Ph.D. Geography/ Geographical and Sustainability Sciences
Destination: Guyana, South America
Project Title: Expressions of Social Fabric on Vulnerability Indicators
For my Stanley project, I will travel to Guyana, South America to work with the national disaster management agency, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) in conducting hazard vulnerability assessments at state and local levels. There I will further develop a hazard assessment methodology which I initially created for the agency in 2014. I will work with local and regional governments, indigenous communities and economic sector representatives to identify physical and social vulnerabilities to hazards in Potaro–Siparuni, Guyana while investigating the impact of social fabric ‐social vulnerability relationship on the expression of vulnerability indicators. The project will improve the quality of tools used to predict social vulnerability while providing real data from a developing world setting. The results will be compared to a similar study to be conducted in Iowa and will test the transferability of the methodology.

Christopher Henderson
M.A./Ph.D. American Studies
Destination: Liverpool, England
Project Title: Enough is Enough: Fan Stadium Performance as Protest in Liverpool
The Stanley Graduate Award would enable me to undertake ethnographic research on soccer fan culture in Liverpool, England from December 16, 2017 through January 15, 2018. Over the course of four weeks, I would conduct participant observation at twelve games and interview twenty fans of four different local teams. My work in Liverpool would build on my previous qualitative studies in Oregon and New York, as the second phase of preliminary research informing my dissertation proposal. For my dissertation, I anticipate a comprehensive research project comparing the relative use of soccer stadiums as sites of cultural and/or political resistance in England and the United States. The Stanley Graduate Award would help fund air travel and accommodations. With the founding of the English Premier League and America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1992 and 1994, respectively, an infusion of corporate capital transformed men’s professional soccer in both countries. Amongst the most visible changes were stricter fan behavior policies in stadiums, raised ticket prices, and increased foreign ownership. In England, fans organized to resist these changes and continue to collectively utilize stadium performance to voice opposition to administrative policies that trouble them. In contrast, the most ardent fans of MLS embraced their new league’s hyper‐commercialized corporate structure and identity. Despite the establishment of fan groups, collective protest has remained muted and marginalized. This study investigates collective fan behavior and activism in Liverpool through the voices of the fans themselves in order to contrast it with American soccer fandom.

Samuel Jambrović
M.F.A. Spanish Creative Writing 
Destination: Colombia
Project Title: Writing Landscapes: Life and Ruins in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
For my proposed Stanley project, I will spend ten weeks in Colombia compiling written observations, pictures, and video for my M.F.A. thesis in Spanish Creative Writing, a novel set in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta along Colombia’s northern coast. As part of my investigation, I will work with biologists at the Universidad del Magdalena in Santa Marta, botanists at the Jardín Botánico Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, and researchers at the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History in Bogotá so that I may include accurate information about local plant species and archeological sites in my thesis. Through the support of these institutions and the Stanley award, I will collect field data, interview specialists, catalog my findings, make revisions to my thesis, and draft future chapters during the period of my grant.

Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn
M.F.A. Theatre Arts
Destination: Japan
Project Title: In the Noh: Traditional Japanese Costume Crafts and Their Influence on Contemporary Theatre in Japan for an English and Japanese Speaking Audience
From May of 2017 to September of 2017 I have been invited work in Yokohama, Japan as an intern for the Yokohama Theatre Group. During this time, I will also be taking Noh maskcarving classes through the International Noh Institute. The summer of 2017 is an opportune time to begin this project and explore traditional Japanese theatre crafts, as it follows my enrollment in a Mask and Puppet Crafts course, as well as previous coursework in costume design and construction. Ultimately, I will be able to bring the skills I gain from studying these crafts back with me and explore ways in which these art forms can be applied to my research at the University of Iowa and my professional design work.

Sarah Suzanne Luko
M.F.A. Papermaking
Destination: Japan
Project Title: Papermaking and Joinery in Japan: The Intersection of Traditional and Modern Practices
I am applying for a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research to explore traditional Japanese papermaking and woodworking practices and their historic and modern applications. This research will be integral to my MFA thesis exhibition in papermaking. Japanese artisans employ unique techniques and tools to produce some of the most beautiful paper in the world. However, the numbers of hand papermakers and artisans making these essential tools are declining rapidly. As a maker of both paper and tools, meeting these living resources and accessing the information within select Japanese museum and libraries would be invaluable. My four‐week research project will include collecting and analyzing information from various institutions, visiting temples and other historic structures, and observing the workshops and practices of artisans who are currently using traditional methods.

Alex Maruszczak
M.S. Earth and Environmental Science
Destination: Iceland
Project Title: Geochemistry of Basaltic Alkali Glass from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
What is melting and supplying the volcanoes of Iceland is an ongoing controversy. The lavas of the island record of long history of a shifting mid‐ocean ridge and mantle plume. Today, most of the working being done on Iceland focuses on the main rift zones and thus leaves the off‐rift zones poorly understood. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula; an area that was once part of the main rift until it went extinct that is now again experiencing volcanism, is one of these areas. What is different about this area is the generation of alkali basalts, quite different from the tholeiitic basalts seen on the main rifts (Thy 1983). Past works have suggested that there may be a spatial variation in composition across the peninsula. Whether that variation is due to source differences or crustal contamination, no conclusion cannot yet be made. This project will analyze alkali basaltic glasses. The geochemical data will be used to infer lateral trends in source material and crustal assimilation.

Allana Cheyenne Noyes
M.F.A. Literary Translation
Destination: Puebla, Mexico and Mexico City, Mexico
Project Title: Collaboration with Mexican author, Dr. Noé Blancas Blancas, for the English language translation of A la Sombra del Sombrero
I am applying for a Graduate Stanley Award for international research to spend four weeks in Puebla and Mexico City, Mexico, in order to discuss my translation manuscript with author, Noé Blancas Blancas. I am currently working on a translation of Dr. Blancas’ book of short stories entitled, A la Sombra del Sombrero, and being able to work directly with the author will provide invaluable insight to my translation process. Because of Puebla’s close proximity to Mexico City, I will also travel by bus to Mexico City to conduct research at the Foundation for Mexican Letters. Their library and large database of Mexican authors, as well as their programs for creative writers and translators, will provide me with important connections to other contemporary Mexican authors who wish to have their work translated into English.

Oscar Javier Pachon Torres
M.F.A. Spanish Creative Writing
Destination: Madrid, Spain and Bologna, Italy
Project Title: Feeling rootless: Colombians in Madrid and Bologna
Upon completion of my first year in the Spanish Creative Writing MFA in spring, 2017, my proposed Stanley project will give me the chance to spend six weeks in Bologna, Italy, and Madrid, Spain, collecting information about Colombian migrants living in Europe. This field work will serve as the research component of my MFA thesis, a novel about the rootlessness experienced by Colombians who move to the United States and Europe for professional development. For six weeks, I will be doing a piece of research made up of a general and a specific component. In the general one, I will be having interviews with several Colombians in Madrid (a focus group), and carrying out archive research in a migration literature magazine. In the specific one, I will be doing ethnographic research with two people, who moved to Spain and Italy. I will be sharing their daily routines, interviewing them about their experiences as migrants and visiting places which have had an impact on them.
We will be together in activities such as dining, shopping, going to their work, study places and homes, in order to have a deeper understanding of the way they live. Additionally, I will be able to listen to their life stories in a new country. Such narrations are a very illuminating element in understanding how their migrant experiences have affected their identities and strengthened their feelings of rootlessness. Through direct contact, I will be able to have a firsthand account of the difficulties of migration, which are related to specific values, places and cultural practices. Only immersion in the context where they live will give me the possibility of understanding how the state of rootlessness relates to new cultural and social context, as well as to places.

Ethan Alexander Plaue
M.F.A. Creative Writing
Destination: Ireland
Project Title: Data Capital: Writing Poetry about the Tech Boom in Dublin, Ireland
I am applying for a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research to write poetry on the ongoing tech boom in Dublin, Ireland, for my MFA thesis in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. While in Ireland, I will observe the effects of Dublin’s unique tech industry on the changing urban and rural landscape. I will visit Dublin’s numerous corporate tech headquarters, collecting observations on the workplace design and the surrounding urban landscape. In contrast to Dublin, I will go to several outlying coastal towns, paying specific attention to the tech boom’s adverse ecological effects on Ireland’s eroding coastlines. Finally, to contextualize present‐day Ireland within the country’s colonial past, I will visit former British colonial castles, comparing their architecture to the multinational corporate headquarters. In Ireland and upon my return, I will use my field notes as the basis of a long poem entitled "Data Capital" that will piece together the complexities of Ireland’s tech economy, climate change, and the legacy of British colonialism.

Marina Ross
M.F.A. Painting
Destination: Russia
Project Title: Representations of Women in Post‐Soviet Russia: How Capitalism Produces New Forms of Beauty
I am traveling to Saint Petersburg, Russia for four weeks to study representations of women in paintings at the Museum of Nonconformist Art and in performance art at the Saint Petersburg Art Residency (SPAR). I plan to record my findings through a photographic and written journal, which will be used upon return to the US to inform my Master of Fine Art in Painting thesis exhibition. My research examines how the work of female artists responds to the influence of Russia’s transition to capitalism, which facilitates an ever‐increasing visual culture that gives primacy to women's self‐image and promotes a beauty which is achieved through labor. My paintings specifically address the abundance of images that women are surrounded by, which are increasingly about diet and exercise, suggesting that beauty is related to self‐discipline and labor. By studying works made directly after 1991 (when the USSR dissolved) and works being exhibited today, I will be comparing shifts in representations of women, to understand how the role of women has shifted short and long‐term since the political change and its relationship to beauty as labor. Formally analyzing the paintings in person is crucial, as a vast majority of the museum’s collection is not accessible on‐line. More importantly, SPAR’s performance art exhibitions are meant to be viewed in person. As someone born in the Soviet Union and raised in the US, I am interested in how a capitalist political structure promotes a version of beauty tied to labor, holding women responsible for their self‐image. Visiting these institutions which specialize in work made at the time of the dissolution of the USSR will allow for a direct examination of how artists were representing women. Furthermore, the research will promote an understanding of how women’s beauty is subjective and impacted by the region’s politics.

Anu Thapa
Ph.D Cinematic Arts
Destination: Pune, India
Project Title: Divine Cinema: Transnational Imaginaries of Early Indian Mythological Films
My proposed Stanley research project at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) will focus on the intersections of religion and early cinema in South Asia, in particular India. This preliminary research, which I plan on conducting from late May‐late July, will contribute to my PhD degree in Film Studies as one of three areas for my comprehensive examination is South Asian Cinema. Movies came to India in 1896 when the Lumière Brothers sent a man named Marius Sestier to screen their short films to a mostly British audience at Watson’s Hotel. After seeing a lavish film based on the Christian Bible, Dadasaheb Phalke (widely considered to be the father of Indian cinema) reportedly acted upon his urge to see Indian gods and images on the screen by making Raja Harishchandra in 1913. Ever since, religion has been at the forefront of Indian popular cinema known widely as Bollywood. To my knowledge, the relationship between religion and cinema has been under‐examined by scholars writing about Hindi cinema, partly because religion and modernity have often been considered disparate. My project addresses this omission by looking into early mythological films and related para‐cinematic archival materials including reviews, movie posters, newspaper advertisements, and correspondences regarding the production and distribution of these films. This approach allows me to see the central role religion played in acquainting colonial Indian audiences with cinema technology. It also provides a historical contextualization of the religious inflections present in today’s Indian popular cinema narratives and in the production process. On a broader scale, this research is a stepping stone towards understanding the popularity of Indian cinema within the South Asian region, and the origins of cinema in other South Asian countries. For instance, the first film of Nepal, India’s neighbor, was also based on the life of the King Harischandra and was titled Satya Harischandra (1951).

John Joseph Vater
M.F.A. Literary Translation
Destination: New Delhi, India
Project Title: The Politics of Hindi Poet Kunwar Narain: Syncretism, Impartiality, and the Humanesque
My research explores the theories of cultural syncretism, social engagement, and ‘humanesque’ morality in the creative and critical works of Kunwar Narain, one of Hindi’s most renowned poets and public intellectuals. Kunwar Narain (1927‐ Present) achieved prominence during the New Story and Poetry movements of the 1960s and 70s, in which he and other writers expanded Hindi’s expressive range to address anxieties pertaining to India’s identity after independence, its place in the world, and a domestic environment of corruption and moral improbity. While there has been ample research on the New Story Movement writer Nirmal Verma, little research in English has been done on Kunwar Narain. With the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research, I will fill this gap by conducting mixed methods research in New Delhi for 8 weeks, in which I will analyze published and unpublished materials at the Narains’ family library and contextualize literary analysis by interviewing writers, critics, and academics. Apurva Narain, the author’s son and translator, has offered me use of their family library at their home in Chitranjan Park, New Delhi, guidance for my readings, and assistance editing Aakaron Ke Aas Paas (Near‐About Shapes), a collection of experimental stories by his father I’m translating for my final thesis. Apurva will suggest readings, facilitate interviews, and clarify challenges pertaining to the complex philosophies and cultural allegories present in his short stories, which will enrich my interpretations and translations and refine my research. I’ll use my research to write a critical essay introducing the collection and to frame future PhD research on the historically contextualized democratic function of and ideal of civic engagement in modern Hindi literature, and work with Apurva to conceptualize and organize a panel commemorating Kunwar Narain’s 90th birthday at the 2018 Jaipur Literature Festival.

Ashleigh Wallace
Doctor of Pharmacy
Destination: Mysore, India
Project Title: Determining Prevalence and Treatment of Diarrhea in Children Under 5 Years of Age in Rural India
I am seeking a Stanley Award to facilitate my travel to complete a research‐based internship in the Mysore region in Southern India for 8 weeks. This project will help me to accomplish my Scholarship and Research outcome required to complete before graduation from the College of Pharmacy. The research would focus on a determination of the prevalence and treatment of diarrhea in children less than 5 years old. My intent is to examine the frequency of presentation of children with diarrhea and to assess the treatment provided with a specific focus on use of oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS is the recommended treatment for diarrhea. However, frequently other less effective methods are used. A questionnaire focused on prevalence and treatment of diarrhea and interviews will be administered in 3 remote areas in India. My work will be done in collaboration with the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). Through this organization medical records from their 2 health institutions, the Vivekananda Memorial Hospital in Saragur and the Vivekananda Memorial Hospital in Kenchanahalli, will be accessible for aggregate assessment of trends. Descriptive statics of demographic characteristics and treatment provision will be collected. The final goal is to create an intervention, if necessary, to provide education on the proper treatment of diarrhea.

Patricia Webber
M.S. Geoscience
Destination: Argentina
Project Title: Terrane Accretion and Translation on the Western Margin of Gondwana
The timing and kinematics of terrane accretion on the western margin of Gondwana has long been contentious. In northwestern Argentina, the Western Sierras Pampeanas present the opportunity to study the history and relationship of juxtaposed terranes documented in the region. The Cuyania terrane is proposed to have been accreted and translated along the margin of the Pampean craton via thrusting or transpression between 515‐400 Ma (Mulcahy et al. 2014). The Valle Fertil Lineament (VFL) marks the boundary between Cuyania and other terranes (e.g. Pampia, MARA block), but most early displacement fabrics recording these events have been overprinted by brittle reactivation. Analysis of ductile shear zones in Sierra de Maz, a range that lies along the northern extent of the VFL (Roeske et al. 2008), may illuminate the history and kinematics of the region. 2016 field observations, which indicate at least one period of terrane accretion and transpression, support competing models for either Cambrian MARA block translation (Rapela et al. 2016), or Ordovician to Devonian Cuyania translation (Ramos et al. 2010). Structural and geochronologic analyses will be used to explore which model better characterizes the region and shed light on translation processes at accretionary margins.

Shuang Wei
Ph.D. Educational Measurement and Statistics
Destination: Zhuhai, China
Project Title: Case Study of First Year Experience Curricula in China
This study will explore the effectiveness of first‐year experience curricula, which are designed to engage students in their college lives and facilitate further learning processes. United International College (UIC), a university on the south coast of China, has been highly innovative in developing their first‐year experience courses for students and is therefore a perfect research site for this project. Their unique program, named the Whole Person Education (WPE) program, utilizes psychological theory in building up students’ overall abilities to deal with life circumstances, an approach that distinguishes it significantly from its American counterparts. The developer of the WPE strongly believes that improving personal qualities in general will benefit students more in the long run than only addressing academic issues. For my research, I will spend 4 weeks at UIC, familiarizing myself with how the courses have been developed within recent years in order to generate the essential theoretical grounding that makes WPE courses so effective. Research will be focused on cultural difference as a crucial determinant of why such programs work well with particular groups of students. A systematic evaluation of this program will make it more possible for researchers and educators to compare the ideologies of China and America regarding first‐year programs. Findings from this study may help educators further improve first‐year experience courses by revealing the strengths of both perspectives, and enabling program designers to learn strategies from the WPE, in particular.

Eric Wohlstadter
M.F.A. Fiction Writing
Destination: Tel Aviv, Israel
Project Title: Gay and Jewish: Writing Intersections of Sexuality and Religion in Israel
For this Stanley project, I plan to go to Israel to collect material about gay Israeli life, which I will then turn into a collection of short stories for my thesis as a Fiction MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Most of my time will be spent in Tel Aviv, where I will interview gay men through two organizations: Havruta, the largest organization of Orthodox Jewish gay men in the world, and Aguda, Israel’s National Association of LGBT people. I will also spend a week at the Har Etzion institution, the flagship institution for Modern Orthodox Jews worldwide. These interviews, on two sides of the spectrum, will provide me with a necessary and comprehensive take on the gay religious experience, and will serve my interest in a thesis that explores the idea of a modern Gay Jewish Bildungsroman.

Stella Wong
M.F.A. Poetry Writing
Destination: China
Project Title: Giving Voices to the Voiceless; Invisible Populations and Invisible Diseases
I am applying for the Stanley Graduate Award to conduct essential research for my thesis collection of poetry in order to graduate with an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. I will travel to Shenzhen and rural villages in Chongqing to write and research a unique phenomenon of social dislocation in recent history: the voiceless population of left‐behind children (the millions of Chinese children who stay behind in rural villages while their parents find factory work in big cities) and their parents. These interviews, as well as my research at the Shenzhen Cultural Center and Library and Chongqing Library on historical precedents, government economic policy and any current demographic statistics on the state of rural villages in the province, will inform my thesis of docu‐poetry, encompassing investigative poetry incorporating photos and interviews of migrant workers and their children.