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Two Bard Seniors Receive Prestigious And Highly Selective Watson Travel Grants

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Two Bard College seniors—Christopher Herring of Falls Church, Virginia, and David Martin of Nashville, Tennessee—have been awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Foundation 2008–09 Fellowship, which provides for a year of travel and exploration outside the United States. “The awards are long-term investments in people, not research,” says Rosemary Macedo, executive director of the Watson Fellowship Program and a former Watson Fellow. “We look for people likely to lead or innovate in the future and give them extraordinary independence in pursuing their interests. They must have passion, creativity, and a feasible plan. The Watson Fellowship affords an unequaled opportunity for global experiential learning.” Each Watson Fellow receives a grant of $25,000 for a year of travel and independent study.

Christopher Herring’s project, “Contours of Resistance: Exploring Community Response to Natural Disaster,” will take him to Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, and Belize. “As hurricanes in the Atlantic increase in number and strength, affected global communities face new challenges of adaptation and reconstruction,” says Herring. “Gathering stories of survival and rebuilding, interviewing NGO and government officials, and working with disaster response agencies, I hope to witness, listen, and discover first hand how local factors interact with institutional policies, both during and after crises. I want to gain an understanding of how disaster affects community and how community, in turn, influences disaster policy.”

David Martin’s project, “Minuscule Wonders: The Effect of Four Ant Species’ Behavior” will entail trips to Mexico, Brazil, Jordan, and Tanzania. “I have always wanted to know how the system inhales and exhales: all the parts moving together to make an integrated whole,” says Martin. “In this project, I will observe four species of ants and photographically document their lives, and share the result with their human neighbors in an attempt to redefine the confrontational nature of the relationship between two of the most successful species on the planet. All this will be done to better understand how dynamic systems relate to one another, by placing the two in a closer relationship.”

Over the past several years, nine Bard seniors have received Watson fellowships: Gabriel Harrell and Kathryn Newman (2007–08); Christophe Chung and Jonathan Helfgott (2006–07); Yishay Garbasz and Nguyen Nguyen (2004–05); Emily McNair and Vincent Valdmanis (2003–04); and Miya Buxton (2002–03).

Nearly 1,000 students from up to 50 selective private liberal arts colleges and universities apply for these awards each year. This year, 175 finalists competed on the national level, after their institutions nominated them in the autumn. The year of travel provides fellows an opportunity to test their aspirations and abilities and develop a more informed sense of international concern. Approximately 2,500 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey during the history of the program. They have gone on to become college presidents and professors, CEOs of major corporations, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, politicians, artists, lawyers, diplomats, doctors, journalists, and researchers. For further information about the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program, visit or e-mail
Since its inception in 1860, Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York State’s Dutchess County, has maintained a commitment to liberal arts and sciences education. It has done so by establishing a challenging academic program and fostering the interchange of ideas between a faculty of the highest caliber and an exemplary student body. This interaction is at the heart of classical education and serves as the cornerstone of a democratic civilization. Bard is a four-year residential college, offering the bachelor of arts degree with concentrations in approximately 50 academic programs in four divisions: Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies. Bard has developed a new vision of the liberal arts college as a central body surrounded by significant institutes and programs that strengthen its curriculum. This model is distinctly different from the structure of a large university. While the College is flexible enough to include programs for research, graduate study, community outreach, and other cultural and educational activities, the undergraduate program remains its focus. Each satellite program is designed to enhance the undergraduate course of study by offering students opportunities for interaction with leading artists and scholars. For further information about Bard College, visit or e-mail

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This event was last updated on 09-25-2008