Two students awarded Watson Fellowships

Publication Date

Cameron Bechtold ’20 and Danielle Pinney ’20 are the latest Union students who will travel the world next year as part of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program.

The two are among 46 students selected as finalists after nominations from private liberal arts colleges and universities in the U.S.

This marks the fifth time in the last eight years that the College has two Watson fellows. The program was established in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeanette, to honor their parents’ longstanding interest in education and world affairs.

Since the program’s inception, 60 Union students have been awarded fellowships.

This year’s fellows receive a $36,000 stipend to cover a year of independent study and travel outside the U.S. They will visit more than 80 countries, exploring topics ranging from rare diseases to female filmmakers to nuclear energy.

Among his numerous activities, Bechtold is president of Campus Kitchens and vice president of his class. Last year, he was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, the premiere undergraduate award for students pursuing careers in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. He plans a career in urban ecology.

Pinney is co-captain of the Dance Team and a member of the Yoga and Meditation Club. Last year at Steinmetz Day, she was awarded the Edward Villella Fellowship, which allows exceptional students to expand their dance studies beyond campus. She plans to pursue a career in the book publishing industry.

To learn more about this year’s Watson Fellows and their projects, visit the Watson website.

Cameron Bechtold ’20


Hometown: Middleburgh, N.Y.

Major: Environmental science

Project title: Staying Afloat: Community Responses to Water Management

Countries: The Netherlands, Italy, Vietnam, Tuvalu, and Mexico

Description: “I plan to explore the various connections between community, policy and science in countries that are working to solve water-related crises. Each community I will visit functions as an ecosystem that can easily be disrupted by the mismanagement of water, which is both an increasingly valuable resource and danger. As a result, tensions have arisen between various community members, and sound water management practices are needed if communities are to stay resilient. This project will tie together both my personal and scientific background with the reality of climate change that communities are dealing with every day.”

Danielle Piney '20


Hometown: Westfield, N.J.

Major: English, and Spanish and Hispanic Studies, with a minor in Dance

Project title: Moving Stories: Crafting Narratives Through and About Dance

Countries: Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, India

Description: “To explore narratives told through dance worldwide, I will travel to five countries with a storytelling dance tradition. While abroad, I intend to discern how and why communities come together to develop, shape and tell their personal narratives through various dance styles. By examining written, oral and movement-based storytelling traditions within each of these five countries, I hope to understand what a society is about—and what it believes—to interpret the subconscious of society through its cultural dance roots.”

Union’s previous Watson fellows:

Vito Potenza ‘69
Study of East Asian Contemporary Society

Arnold Drogen ‘70
Dance and Theater in East Africa

Eugene Kokot ‘70
Regional Problems of Development in Northern Scandinavia

Steven Cole ‘71
Study of Voice and Opera

Steven David ‘72
Analysis of Chinese and Israeli Aid Programs in East Africa

William Dobishinski ‘73
Economic Cooperation The Way to Political Peace

Vincent Foster ‘73
Economic Development

Michael Vanhatten ‘73
Folk Roots of European Jazz

Charles Goodwin ‘74

Robert Cable ‘75
Child Development

Jayne Greenwald ‘75
Martial Arts and Dance

Joseph Bedell ‘76
Blue-collar Workers in Industry

Kit Singh ‘76
Research for Novel

David Hopkins ‘77
Energy Regulation

Laura Shore ‘78
Goethe's Italian Journey

J. Peter Donlon ‘79
Sociology of Amusement Parks

Peter Hooper ‘80
Communal Agriculture

Edward Horstmann ‘80
Symbol and Ritual in Coastal Villages

Michele Beaulieu ‘81

Tamara Wood ‘82
Cultural & Economic Factors Influencing Engineering Career Choices

Jonathan Titus ‘83
Management of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

Liesel Golden ‘85
Women in the Military

Melinda Zumski ‘86
Political Theater

Daniel Gordon ‘87
Cross-cultural Study of Baseball

Susan von Reusner ‘87
Women Textile Workers

Vincent Nicotina ‘88
Cultural Formation and Folk Music

Eddy Remy ‘88
African Dance Westernization and Tradition

Yeshaya Poyurs ‘89
Role of Religion in Revolution

Anna Allen ‘90
Comparative Study of Drug Legislation Policies

Gregory Angus ‘90
Role of Toys in Childhood Development

Shelley Szymko ‘91
Changes in the Work Ethic: Integration of Capitalist Ideas & Socialist Ideology

Katherine Rawstron ‘93
Photographing the Disabled

Elisabeth Tripp ‘93
Ancient Engineering

Jacques Etienne ‘94
Effects of Modernization on Traditional Markets

William Wolff ‘94
Writing Poetry in Eliot's Europe

Rebecca Gergely ‘95
Influence of Culture on Educational Goals

Trinh Thai ‘96
Technological and Social Aspects of Ancient Bridges

Jessica Bernstein ‘97
Female Tae Kwon Do Artists

Zane Riester ‘97
Exploring Renaissance & Baroque Churches & Train Stations

Scott Stedman ‘99
Past & Present: A Screenplay on Walter Benjamin

Anastasie Prokhorova ‘01
The Cultural Phenomenon of the "Wunderkind"

Louisa Stephens ‘01
Photographic Explorations: Pursuing the Sun

Nori Lupfer ‘03
Circuses & Stunts: Photography of Entertainment in Motion

Adam Grode ‘05
Long-Necked Lutes from Baku to Bishkek: A Musical Journey in Central Asia

Noah Eber-Schmid ‘06
The Kids Are Alright? Punk Subcultures as Community and Movement

Andrew Krauss ‘08
In the Pursuit of Speed: Evolution in Outrigger Canoeing

Frederick Franke ‘10
Out of the Kitchen and Into the Fire: Exploring Open-Fire Cooking Methods

Burleigh Morton ‘10
Large Format Cargo: Photographing the Shipping Industry

Joshua Anderson ‘13
Holistic Self-sufficiency: Exploring the Intersection of Community, Innovation, and Self

Shilpa Darivemula ‘13
Of Medicine and Mudras: Exploring Healing Through Traditional Dance Cultures

Sean Day ‘14
What Moves You: Exploring The Value of Human Motion Through Cultural Perceptions of Disabilities

Shiqing He ‘14
The Fading Color: Natural Dye Production around the Globe

Karlee Bergendorff ‘15
The Dirty Archeology of Alternative History

Warren Thompson ‘15
Flute Music Across the World: Exploring Expression, Ritual, and Healing

Htoo Wai Htet ‘16
Jugaad Innovation: Making Technological Empowerment Affordable

Riley Konsella ‘17
Stuck in Traffic: Steering Offbeat Transportation Solutions through Human Pushback

Samantha Miller ‘19
Poignant Nostalgia: Investigating Architecture through Abandoned Spaces

Emmanuela “Ella” Oppong ’19
Social Entrepreneurship: Empowering Local Minds, Finding Healthcare Solutions