Thanks to newly awarded Watson Fellowships, two Colgate seniors will travel the globe next year to conduct research ranging from political accountability in countries like Egypt and Russia, to bias toward Gypsy populations in Europe.
The prestigious Watson Fellowship is a one-year $25,000 grant for independent study and travel outside the United States, awarded to graduating seniors. Colgate University is one of 40 institutions of higher education participating in the Watson Fellowship program.
Srikar Gullapalli ’13, a math major from Bangalore, India, and Rebekah Ward ’13, a psychology and peace and conflict studies double major from Montreal, Canada, are two of just 40 announced Watson Fellowships for 2013-2014.
Gullapalli plans to travel to Australia, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Russia for his research titled: Government for the People: Local Accountability Structures and Political Dialogue.
Gullapalli is interested in political accountability structures and local citizen-government relationships at the city and community levels. He plans to interview citizens, non-governmental organizations, media, local officials and politicians, along with taking part in town halls, protest rallies, and engaging with students.
Gullapalli said, “The local level is most important for public welfare and where most corruption and inefficiency occurs. This is the level that citizens can hold accountable and have the most impact on through political dialogue and innovations in social activism.”
Gullapalli is also a two-time recipient of Colgate’s Lampert Fellowship for Summer Research.
Ward’s research focuses on the interaction of Roma, also known as “Gypsies,” one of the most widespread minorities in the world. Ward plans to travel to the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and Brazil for her project titled: Unraveling Bias and Conviction: Roma Cultural Communication and Activism. Ward seeks to understand how Roma groups communicate their culture and how tensions and challenges vary depending on state laws and rhetoric. Ward said she plans to meet Roma activists globally to learn what drives their dedication.
“I’m driven by issues of social justice in general, and that’s been a nagging thing throughout my upbringing and education. but i didn’t know what to do with it,” said Ward. “What’s appealing about the Watson is that its really an experience-driven research opportunity, and that’s what makes it so unique and sought after.”
Some past Colgate Watson fellows studied cultural differences in the value of whales, Rubik’s (cube) resurgence across cultures, the ecology of medicinal plant markets, and the light and dark side of cocoa production, according to the Colgate Office of National Fellowships.