Meet the Watson Fellowship nominees

Four students have been nominated by the College for consideration of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program
Nott Memorial

Meet the Watson Fellowship nominees

  • Karlee Bergendorff '15Karlee Bergendorff '15
  • Xi Gao '15Xi Gao '15
  • Elizabeth Magas '15Elizabeth Magas '15
  • Warren Thompson '15 Warren Thompson '15

Four students have been nominated by the College for consideration of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program. The fellowship offers a one-year grant to seniors “of unusual promise” to study independently outside the United States. The stipend for award winners is $25,000.

This year’s selection committee included: Ann Anderson, the Agnes S. MacDonald Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Maggie Tongue, director of the Scholars Program; Doug Klein, the Kenneth B. Sharpe Professor of Economics; Brad Bruno, professor of mechanical engineering; Jillmarie Murphy, assistant professor of English, Lynn Evans, director of National Fellowships and Scholarships; and Rahde Franke '10.

Union’s most recent Watson winners include Sean Day ’14 with “What Moves You: Exploring the Value of Human Motion Through Cultural Perceptions of Disabilities” and Shiqing He ’14 with “The Fading Color: Learning and Documenting Natural Dye Production Around the Globe.” Other recent winners include Joshua Anderson ’13, Shilpa Darivemula ’13, Rahde Franke ’10 and James Morton ’10.

Here are the four members of the Class of 2015 who were nominated by the Union committee:


Hometown: Catskill, N.Y.

Major: Political Science with a dual concentration in Art History and Fine Arts

Project title: “The Dirty Archeology of Alternative History” 

Description: Textbook versions of history often focus on “greatness” and monumental events, where I take the shreds of history, pieces of junk and abandoned spaces, and piece together untold stories through my art. I hope to rediscover a history that fills in the gaps of traditional, historical narratives. I will search for meaning in material remains and create reflective art in each location based on what I discover.


Hometown: Malden, Mass.

Major: Economics and Asian Studies

Project title: “Hot and Sour Soup: Exploring the Components of the Chinese Diaspora”

Description: I immigrated to the U.S. from China when I was 8 years-old. Growing up in the diverse city of Boston, I was exposed to various cultures and people. When I started working at my parent’s takeout restaurant, I realized that Chinese-American food, transformed from its original authenticity, had become a part of the American culture, just as I had. Since then, I have been captivated to learn more about the multifaceted and changing Chinese identity outside of China. The Chinese diaspora has integrated into different cultures around the world through Chinese cuisine. Food is China’s greatest ambassador. The merging of distinct cultures has not only affected Chinese food, but also the Chinese identity. I will visit and work in Chinese restaurants to find stories of immigration and assimilation. Through these stories, I hope to learn about the different components that make up the global Chinese identity and how the Chinese diaspora has dealt with issues of identity, assimilation and nationalism. 


Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.

Major: Theater

Minor: Math and English

Project title: “Sartorial Stories: Exploring Clothing as an Art of Cultural and Self-Expression”

Description: I have always been fascinated by the transformative and expressive nature of clothing, and have had the great opportunity to learn about clothing construction and costume design over my four years at Union. I will explore a variety of techniques used to create the traditional garments of Peru, Tanzania, Hungary and New Zealand. I hope to gain not only practical skills in weaving, beadwork and embroidery but also a deeper understanding of the cultures that birthed them and of how clothing expresses our cultural heritage. 


Hometown: Boston, Mass.

Major: Biochemistry and Music

Project title: "Flute Music Across the World: Exploring Expression, Ritual, and Healing"

Description: Flute music is used in cultures around the world for important rituals, for expressing traditional stories, and for healing. In all of these traditions, the musicians use the flute for deep emotional expression in such meaningful pursuits. I will learn the elements of four flute styles from musicians who have grown up with the music. Playing music in clinics, hospitals, and other places of healing will allow me to explore what the music means to people in each culture, musicians and non-musicians, and discover how much I can use music to reach vulnerable patients, learn more about listeners in general, and help them heal.