The University of Iowa


In the spring of 2018, eight undergraduate students received Stanley Awards worth $2,500 each for a total of $20,000 awarded. The recipients and their project summaries are listed below.

Claire  Carmichael 
Genetics & Biotechnology
Destination: Salvador, Brazil
Project Title: The Use of GIS and Spatial Analysis to Map the Risk of Leptospirosis to Humans in Salvador, Brazil
I am applying for a Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research in order to conduct research into assessment of the incidence rate of the bacterial disease leptospirosis in the urban slum areas of Brazil from June to August 2018. Leptospirosis is a bacterial, zoonotic disease, meaning it spreads from animals to humans. The disease is transmitted from an infected rodent contaminating water sources, like sewer run-offs, where humans get infected. It is found in tropical regions like Hawaii and Brazil, but little is known about its incidence worldwide because it is underreported and its symptoms are often confused with those of other diseases. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 60,000 people die from it each year. Leptospirosis has moved into the urban slum regions of Salvador, the third largest city in Brazil and where I will conduct my research. I have established contact and will work with collaborators at the Universidade Federal da Bahia who are conducting community-based participatory research in low-income neighborhoods about the incidence of leptospirosis. For my Stanley research I will use Geographic Information System (GIS) software to create maps from their data that show how infection rates of humans and rats in slums vary with distance to infected water sources and government services like healthcare and trash collection. I will be performing this research in order to fulfill graduation requirements for an honors designation and a degree in Genetics & Biotechnology. Through my coursework in both genetics and GIS, I understand the impact that maps can have on effectively communicating information, whether about chromosomes or leptospirosis.

Caitlin Chenus
International Studies (Intl Human Rights)
Destination: Paris, Mont-de-Marsan, France
Project Title: Re-examining Perceptions of 'The Other': Exploring French reactions to and mentalities on refugees and vice versa to bridge the knowledge gap between communities
For this project I will conduct research into the attitudes the French have towards refugees, as well as the thoughts and experiences refugees have in response, and examine solutions to potential problems. The first step will consist of research on the sentiments and reactions, positive and negative, of the recent influx of refugees pouring into the country of France. I will investigate and conduct interviews in two very different places in France: Paris and Mont-de-Marsan; a small town of around 30,000 in the south-west that I have visited before. This research will focus on the core underlying reasons that the French have had issues with refugees and immigrants beyond what the media already portrays. The second component of study will be to ask refugees how they have been treated and thought of in France. This will be done through interviews conducted in French, keeping names and other personal details anonymous to protect the refugees involved. This research will take exactly six weeks, from May 31st, 2018 to July 17th, 2018. I will spend four weeks in Paris and two in Mont-de-Marsan, to make the amount of time I conduct research in each city more proportional to the populations. I want to conduct the study in France because it is the foreign country I know best, and the one that I have spent several years visiting. I am also a fluent French speaker. The research itself stems from my passion for refugee rights that I have been pursuing throughout my college career. I am currently majoring in International Human Rights. 

Margaret Dressel
Anthropology (Medical Anthropology)
Destination: Amman, Jordan
Project Title: Assessing Access to Reproductive Care and Contraception Among Syrian Refugee Populations in Jordan
For my proposed Stanley project, I will spend nine weeks this summer in Amman, Jordan studying Syrian refugees’ interactions with reproductive care and contraceptives. As part of my investigation, I will work with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to facilitate contact with healthcare workers at clinics serving refugees. I will acquire my data by visiting clinics to interview reproductive healthcare providers. My questions will center around access to reproductive services in and around Amman, including the Zaatari Refugee Camp. The Stanley Award funding will allow me to travel to Amman, Jordan, gather and compile interviews and observational field data, and ultimately produce an academic paper of my findings. The project will fulfill the requirements of the experiential portion of the Global Health Certificate and contribute to a greater understanding of the refugee reproductive service needs in Jordan.

Lucas Fagre
Anthropology and Global Health Studies
Destination: Kyiv , Ukraine
Project Title: Socially Determined Barriers to Health in Ukraine's State Healthcare System
I am applying to the Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research, in order to pursue research in Ukraine from June 1st to July 27th. I will research the socially determined barriers to health in Ukraine’s state healthcare system by interviewing individuals who engage with said system. I am an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, studying global health and anthropology, with a minor in the Russian language. After graduation, I plan on pursuing a Masters of Public Health and studying health policy and practices from an anthropological perspective in Eastern Europe and Russia. This research is crucial to my academic progress, as it will give me valuable experience researching health practices in a former soviet state, and help me solidify future contacts in Ukraine.

Tianyu Gan
Biology (Genetics & Biotechnology) and J&MC
Destination:  Ghent, Belgium
Project Title: Volatile compounds promote apogamy in the fern Ceratopteris
The sexual life cycle of all land plants alternates between two generations, the sporophyte and the gametophyte. The gametophyte generation produces gametes, once the egg is fertilized by sperm, the zygote develops into the sporophyte generation. Although sexual life cycle is the norm, many plants, including some ferns also have an asexual life cycle. In seed plants, the gametophyte generation is short lived and is dependent on sporophyte to survive. In ferns, both the gametophyte and sporophyte generations are free living. Therefore, the fern gametophyte offers an excellent tool to study apogamy, a form of asexual reproduction in which gametophyte cells directly forms sporophytes bypassing fertilization. Apogamy occurs in nature and can be induced in the laboratory. Our lab showed that media supplemented with 2.5% glucose promotes apogamy (Cordel et al., 2007). Because this level of sugar is stressful for gametophytes, the finding suggests that stress promotes apogamy. It is known that VOCs serve as signals in stress response in seed plants. Therefore, my hypothesis is that 2.5% glucose causes gametophytes to produce VOCs and that the VOCs promote apogamy. I am currently determining the minimum time required for the gametophytes to expose to the VOCs for apogamy promotion. 

Kylie Gava
Art (Sculpture)
Destination:  Cariacica, Espírito Santo, Brazil
Project Title: Documenting the São Francisco Apartment Building in Cariacica, Espírito Santo, Brazil
I am a junior majoring in sculpture with a minor in Portuguese. My current artwork centers around painting and sculpture influenced by retaining walls in Brazil. I am interested in the houses and apartments behind these walls. The next step for my work will be to go to the neighborhood São Francisco in Cariacica, Brazil and document an apartment building that my grandfather built in the late 1970s. Previously, my grandparents lived in a rural town and this building signifies their transition to an urban lifestyle. The neighborhood is located in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, near the lower half of Brazil’s eastern coast. My research will take place from July 10, 2018-August 10, 2018 and will involve documentation through photographs, sketches, video and audio recordings as well as gathering archival materials, ranging from photographs to blueprints. This project will result in my Art Honors Thesis Exhibition, which completes the requirement for honors in my Studio Art major, as well as for general University Honors. This work will also be displayed in conjunction with my larger, Bachelor of Fine Arts solo sculpture exhibition. I plan to extend similar research in Brazil by expanding it into a Fulbright research proposal, to then apply to a Master of Fine Arts program in sculpture.

Megan Lough
Destination:  Bogota, Colombia
Project Title: Barriers to Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Adherence in Colombia
The high prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) in Colombia poses a public health concern. In order to prevent disability due to chronic disease, adherence to treatment is of primary importance. Barriers to treatment adherence must be assessed as there is currently no research surrounding this topic among the Colombian population. In Bogota, Colombia, I will conduct a pilot study assessing barriers to adherence to prescribed DM2 treatment plans. Data will be collected from two health care facilities associated with Juan N. Corpas University in Bogota, Colombia through subject surveys and qualitative interviews. Data from this pilot study will be used to develop a more robust future assessment of adherence barriers specific to the Colombian health system and population. 

Mark Douglas Schoen
Business (Economics) and Art
Destination:  Hong Kong
Project Title: Economic Impact of Art Cultural Centers
The Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research will allow me to spend 6 weeks in Hong Kong studying the perceived regional economic impact of the developing West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). The WKCD is one of the biggest arts-based economic development programs taking place in the world, encompassing the building of 15 are and cultural centers, one of the largest modern visual arts museums, and an extension museum of the Palace Museum in Bejing. I will be re-analyzing the economic studies commissioned by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board for accuracy and future implications of the districts. A review of these economic studies has not been conducted since 2010. Building of the district began in 2013 and several changes have been made to the original conceived project, rendering the studies severely out of date. I will be interviewing members of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board to gain two things: first, to understand the assumptions made about the project during the previous economic studies; and second, to get a detailed account of the several changes made to the project since the publication of the studies in 2010. The data I collect in Hong Kong will function as a preliminary study for my B.B.A. Economics honors thesis. My honors thesis will be a comparative analysis of the economic impact art cultural centers have on surrounding regions and whether they live up to their pre-construction expectations.