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W&L Announces Final Johnson Opportunity Grant Recipients

Washington and Lee University has selected 21 students to receive Johnson Opportunity Grants for 2012 summer research activities. This is in addition to the eight students announced earlier.

The students will receive the grants for a wide variety of activities both in the United States and abroad. These include working with great white sharks in South Africa, art restoration in The Netherlands, business internships in China and Vietnam, proving medical care in a remote area of the Himalayas, and working with service veterans in Washington D.C.

The grants are funded as part of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity and are designed to help the students’ in their chosen fields of study as well as in their future careers. Students will receive between $1,000 and $4,500 to cover their living, travel and other costs associated with their activities.

  • Dia’aaldin Bisharat, a junior from Jericho in the West Bank of Palestine, will join a group of Ph.D.-only students at the London Center of Nanotechnology in Great Britain to conduct research into silicon-based photonics as a means to generate and manipulate photons (light) rather than electrons. Silicon integrated optical chips are proven capable of modulating, processing and detecting light signals, but their capability to generate light is yet to be realized. Bisharat is a physics-engineering major with a minor in mathematics, and has spent the last academic year studying at University College London, a leading research and academic institute in the field of electronics.  He plans to engage in an independent research study on silicon photonics during his final year at Washington and Lee.
  • Kelton Buchanan, is a junior from Powder Springs, Ga., and a sociology major with a minor in women’s and gender studies. He will intern at Scooter Braun Projects in California which directly manages the entertainment careers of Asher Roth, The Wanted and Justin Bieber. Buchanan hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment/music industry and his internship will give him experience in social media marketing. He is co-chair of the General Activities Board and a member of the varsity basketball team at W&L.
  • Gina Bufton, a junior from Preston, Md., will spend the summer as a research assistant in the Cognitive and Affective Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Michigan. Although she has not been assigned to a particular project yet, most of the on-going projects are studies of the effects of aging on memory and other aspects of cognition. The research relies heavily on the use of neuroimaging, which will be a new skill for Bufton, a psychology major with a minor in philosophy. She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and is a member of the varsity riding team at W&L. Her future plans include pursuing a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology.
  • Upol Ehsan, is a junior from Dhaka, Bangladesh. A double major in physics-engineering and philosophy with a minor in mathematics, Ehsan will visit and conduct one-on-one conversations with three or four influential figures in Mind Sciences to research the “quantization of thought.” This entails a greater level of concretization of one’s expressions and thoughts that will enhance the capability to communicate. He is interested in whether this level of enhancement takes place through an augmentation of public languages or through fundamental neural generative models or a mixture of both. Ehsan plans to use his understanding and critique of these leaders’ views in his philosophy honors thesis.
  • Matthew Gaeta, an accounting and business administration major from Plantation, Fla., will be an intern at NXT Capital in Massachusetts, a middle-market focused commercial finance company. Gaeta will work in NXT’s newest branch of venture finance which provides financial solutions in the $1 million to $20 million range to emerging growth firms, generally in the technology or life sciences sector. Specifically, his duties will include performing due diligence on companies, assisting in building financial models and writing overviews of companies. He is a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and is a member of the varsity basketball team at W&L.
  • Johan (Manuel) Garcia Padilla, a sophomore from Mount Vernon, Wash., and a native of Mexico, will travel to the island of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic to work with the community health project “Salud con Esperanza” (Health with Hope). He will be part of a group of students that will set up a public health education project in an impoverished community. Immigrant Haitians in that community have been victims of xenophobic reactions from natives of the Dominican Republic. The students will be exposed to the services of local clinics in the country’s universal healthcare system, providing an opportunity to learn how those services are delivered in the face of these ethnic clashes. Garcia Padilla is a Spanish major with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and will also use his fluency in Spanish to serve as translator for the group.
  • Matthew Helton, from Carrollton, Ga., will travel to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland to join a research team focusing on developing improved methods for the practical synthesis of bioactive natural products. Helton is a junior majoring in biochemistry with a minor in mathematics, and he will research methods and techniques to synthesize certain biomaterials that possess pharmaceutical and medical applications, including minimal access surgery. His future plans include possible medical school, graduate school in chemistry, or potentially both. He is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
  • Kathryn Marsh-Solloway will be performing art history and restoration fieldwork in the Netherlands during the summer. A junior from Woodbridge, Conn., she is a double major in journalism and mass communications and art history, with a double minor in poverty and human capability studies and museum studies. As an intern at the Netherlands Institute for Cultural and National Heritage, Marsh-Solloway will work under the guidance of experienced conservators to gain a deeper understanding of the process works of art go through before going on display and the continuous work to conserve and restore.  She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
  • Dillon Myers, a sophomore from Foxborough, Mass., and a double major in business administration and Chinese language and literature, will be undertaking a finance internship in Shanghai, China, through CRCC Asia. Myers will be placed with a financial organization to gain insight into Chinese markets, how they are shaping the business world of tomorrow, and to learn new and foreign business strategies and techniques. He will also have the opportunity to improve his speaking and listening skills in Chinese. He is a member of the General’s Development Initiative and W&L Student Consulting. He is also a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and a member of the varsity track and field team at W&L.
  • Tamar Oostrom will be spending the summer providing medical care to people in a remote area of the Trans-Himalayan region. She is a junior from Richland, Wash., a dual citizen of the United States and The Netherlands, and a double major in biochemistry and mathematics. Through the Himalayan Health Exchange Program, Oostrom will join a team of doctors, dentists, residents and students who will hike between villages setting up temporary clinics to treat approximately 1,600 to 1,800 patients. In addition to helping carry supplies, set up the clinics and help with basic medical tasks, Oostrom intends to collect data on how many patients are seen, their concerns, and how best to meet them during the seven months of the year when the area is cut off from the rest of the world due to extreme cold and heavy snow accumulations. She is a member of the varsity riding team at W&L.
  • Jina Park is a junior from Duluth, Ga., and a native of the Republic of South Korea. A double major in biology and English and a pre-med student, she will serve as a volunteer at an underserved medical community in Costa Rica, coordinated by International Service Learning. Park will be part of a general medical team that travels to small towns and villages in “outback” areas to set up field clinics. She will also have the opportunity to work in different hospital areas of interest such as assisting with pap smears, parasitic screenings and other basic health exams and tests. She will attend tropical disease training and seminars in pharmacology and house clinic-community triage, medical Spanish seminars and basic training for anamnesis. Park has taken Spanish classes at W&L and has participated in English for Speakers of Other Languages’ trip to the Dominican Republic to teach English and other subjects to elementary school children.
  • Alexandra (Alex) Prather from Houston, Texas, is a sophomore double major in economics and politics. She will travel to the village of Pampoyo, Bolivia, this summer to work with W&L’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) on its water and sanitation project. With hardly any rain, villagers must find other sources of water for irrigation. Unfortunately, a mining facility up the mountain has polluted a stream that acts as the village’s main source of water. EWB is creating a reservoir to bring safe water from a local spring to improve the quality of arable land in the area by 400 percent. EWB is also constructing sustainable and sanitary latrines for the villagers. With the help of Rotary International, the group is also constructing a health clinic. Prather is a member of Chi Omega sorority.
  • Bethany Reynolds, a junior from Timonium, Md., will travel to Guatemala to take the course “Revealing the Mayan Communities at Sololá Guatemala: Ethnographic Research.” The Ethnographic Field School is run by Tim Wallace, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at North Carolina State University. Reynolds is a double major in Spanish and East Asian Languages and Literatures with a minor in music and is an aspiring anthropologist. She will conduct independent research of her choice under Wallace’s mentorship and guidance.
  • Mary Rodriguez, a junior theater major from Arlington, Texas, will take an internship in the theater community. She has applied for positions as both a stage manager and an assistant stage manager and hopes to observe a talented, professional director, since her ultimate goal is to become a director.
  • Mi Hung (Zoey) Ryu, a sophomore psychology major from Pohang, Republic of South Korea, will take a position as research fellow in positive psychology at the Open Polytechnic in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. The research program focuses on conducting a series of studies and projects on the topic of positive psychology—a growing branch of psychology that seeks to find out the components of human happiness. Ryu will be assigned to work on literature research, management of collaborators in the research team, data collection (including recruiting specific participants), data analysis and manuscript drafting/writing. Through her participation in the research, she will have the opportunity to be included in a publication related to the International Wellbeing Study.
  • Jonathan (Jon) Salm, a junior from Lakeland, Fla., will head to New York City for an internship with RJW Collective, a full-service marketing agency. Salm is an English major with a minor in philosophy and plans to pursue a career in marketing. RJW is a relatively small firm and offers plenty of hands-on experience, pairing interns with a manager from one of its three departments—design, digital and accounts—where they will work directly on RJW accounts. Current clients include Lacoste, MTV, Sony and DeLeón Tequila. Salm is a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
  • Darby Shuler, a sophomore biochemistry major from Columbia, S.C., will take up a pre-medical internship with the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF). The organization is composed of pediatric cardiologists and surgeons who lead medical mission trips to underserved areas around the world. They also work with local professionals to improve medical emergency response and overall medical techniques. Shuler will participate in a medical mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to assist dozens of children with heart defects. She will assist in the organizational aspects of the trip and observe numerous patient visits and surgeries in preparation for her own future career in global medicine.
  • Michelle Szymczak is a sophomore from Chevy Chase, Md. She is a double major in business administration and East Asian languages and literatures with a focus on Chinese and will be headed for Shanghai, China, this summer. She will intern with a business or finance company, organized by CRCC Asia. In addition to developing her knowledge of finance and business, the internship will require her to use her Chinese language skills. She is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
  • Kane Thomas, a sophomore from Shoreline, Wash., will travel to rural Hunan province in China. An East Asian Languages and Literatures major with a focus on Chinese, Thomas will take part in the Harvard World Teach program, by teaching English to seventh to 10th grade Chinese students. He also plans to improve his Chinese language skills in anticipation of his plan to teach in China after graduation. Thomas is a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He is also a member of the varsity cross country team and the varsity track and field indoor and outdoor teams at W&L.
  • Suong (Clara) Tran, a junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, will intern for the equity research department of Woori Investment and Securities in Hanoi. She is an economics major with a minor in journalism and mass communications. Woori is a branch of Korea’s largest multinational financial group. Among Tran’s duties will be analyzing financial statements, forecasting stock trends, obtaining macroeconomic data and studying Vietnamese economic indicators. She will also receive training to use Bloomberg terminal and other stock trading programs.
  • Zachary Zoller, a junior biology major from Salem, Va., will travel to South Africa to be an intern with Project Great White Shark in Mossel Bay. The project is run by Oceans Research and includes population, behavioral, ecological, physiological and socioeconomic studies centered on the great white shark population of the area. Zoller’s research duties will include assisting in running the research vessels and the shark lab and aquarium-based research projects such as tonic immobilization of the wild sharks. His more direct contact with the sharks will include tagging and genetic sampling, manual acoustic tracking and recording and entering behavioral data. Zoller is a member of the varsity football team at W&L.

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