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2017-2018 AMERICAN FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS

courtneyDr. Courtney Welton-Mitchell
Home Institution: University of Colorado-Boulder

Courtney Welton-Mitchell, Ph.D., is a research associate at the Natural Hazards Center, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado-Boulder. She is also cofounder and director of the Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group at the Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, where she teaches graduate level courses in Research Methods and Refugee Studies. Courtney’s background is in Mental Health and Social Psychology. In recent years she has worked on research and evaluation projects, in collaboration with humanitarian organizations, in Nepal, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Haiti and elsewhere. Courtney has published in peer-reviewed academic journals on various topics including gender-based violence, disaster mental health, mental health and psychosocial needs of refugees and other displaced populations, and women living with HIV.

As a Fulbright Visiting Scholar Courtney will be based in Penang at the Centre for Research on Women and Gender (KANITA), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM): https://kanita.usm.my/ In this capacity, Courtney will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with faculty and students on various gender-based violence, mental health, natural hazards and forced migration related research initiatives. This includes involving USM colleagues in her current collaborative U.S. State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) -funded gender-based violence intervention research with stateless Rohingya communities in Gombak District, Malaysia. This research initiative is implemented in partnership with Tenaganita, a Malaysian human rights organization: http://www.tenaganita.net/ 

 

susan Dr. Susan Lappan
Home Institution: Appalachian State Universrity

Dr. Susan Lappan, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Appalachian State University, is a primatologist whose research interests include primate behavior, ecology, and conservation. Since earning her PhD at New York University in 2005, her research has focused primarily on gibbons, small apes endemic to forests of South and Southeast Asia and southern China. From August 2017 to June 2018, Dr. Lappan will be a Visiting Scholar at the School of Biological Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), where she will collaborate with USM faculty and students in the Primate Research Group to initiate the first comprehensive analysis of the conservation status of siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus) in peninsular Malaysia since the 1980’s.

Siamangs are large mammals found only in Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia, and are globally endangered as a result of deforestation, forest degradation, and hunting. Their beauty, dramatic songs and spectacular acrobatic movement in the forest canopy make siamangs popular with ecotourists. Siamangs and other gibbons are also important seed dispersers for tropical trees, and local extinctions may have negative effects on wildlife and ecosystem services, such as carbon storage.

Dr. Lappan and her research partners at USM and other organizations in Malaysia and abroad will use auditory survey methods to estimate gibbon densities in different habitat types in peninsular Malaysia, to identify threats to globally important siamang populations, and to support effective conservation management of siamangs and other gibbons on the peninsula

 

micke Dr. Michael C. Farmer 
Home Institution: Texas Tech University

Dr. Michael C. Farmer is a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Malaysia, Sabah for the term December 15, 2017 to August 15, 2018 in Malaysian Borneo. Michael is a professor at Texas Tech University in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics. He is a natural resource economist with a research focus on land use planning and change. His research has centered on locating land uses that offer both ecologically rich and economically strong benefits by matching high valued markets to high impact ecological restoration and conservation outcomes. His appointment for this Fulbright is with the Entrepreneurship Research and Development Center (ErDeC) at UMS, affiliated with the Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy and the Faculty of Sustainable Agriculture. 

His Fulbright is leveraged by a US-NSF research grant to restore the native canopy in the highly disturbed, small holder-owned, montane ecosystem. The area runs parallel to the Crocker Range, a protected national park and falls within the WWF designated Heart of Borneo area as a threatened area of global interest in biodiversity. Local producers who reacquired the land in the 1970s outlined a mixed agroforestry operation system and requested a feasibility study. Producers anticipate introducing a mix of native tropical fruit trees as a primary canopy with over-story rubber, dipterocarp of agarwood trees. Their goal is to realize far higher incomes and in the process to improve biodiversity sufficiently to secure a forest friendly product label.  This research supports the project through international market identification and development of anticipated products and a review of local legal and economic conditions, inspired by Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD), to isolate systemic bottlenecks and opportunities in ecological-economic reform.    

Dr. Farmer has worked with stake-holders, land and water use managers, and academics from multiple science and engineering disciplines for more than 25 years.  He is former Texas Tech University Faculty Senate president and Associate Editor of the Journal of Water Resource Planning and Management.       

 

2017-2018 AMERICAN FULBRIGHT STUDENT RESEARCHERS

moizMoiz Munir
Home Institution: University of Missouri
Host Institution: University of Malaya Faculty of Medicine

Moiz is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a B.S. in Biology. During his time as an undergraduate, he conducted research into the effects of a novel therapeutic small molecule on breast cancer through in-vitro methods. He has published his research in peer-reviewed journals multiple times as a coauthor and presented his work at conferences. In Malaysia, he will conduct a research study into the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to supplement conventional care, and its relationship to negative prognostic factors amongst cancer patients at the Hospital Kuala Lumpur. He also looks forward to exploring a new country and people. In his free time, he likes to volunteer, spend time with friends and family, and travel. 

Upon completing his Fulbright grant and returning to the US, he hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career as a clinician-scientist studying the epigenetic basis of cancer to ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

 

berkeleyDavid Kurz
Home: University of California Berkeley 
Host institution: Danau Girang Field Centre & Universiti Malaysia Sabah 

David is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at UC Berkeley. He has broad interests in movement ecology, conservation biology, and wildlife management, and is especially passionate about the conservation of vertebrates in tropical landscapes. His Fulbright project will integrate innovative GPS technology, muddy boots ecology, and social outreach to research and conserve the bearded pig, a threatened species that may be the only migratory rain forest ungulate in the world. Historical accounts describe long-distance bearded pig migrations in great numbers across multiple land uses, characterized by thousands of pigs flooding through Bornean forests, agricultural fields, rivers, and mountains. Culturally, the bearded pig also has a central place in the traditions of the indigenous peoples of Borneo, for whom the pig is thought to have been the favored hunting target for at least 10,000 years. Despite their cultural and ecological importance, bearded pig populations are estimated to have declined ~30% in a recent two decade period; as a result, the pig is nearly extirpated from Peninsular Malaysia and is declining rapidly in Malaysian Borneo. Extensive deforestation and over-hunting in Malaysia have contributed heavily to this decline. Within this broader context, David aims to: (1) Obtain the first GPS movement data on this understudied species in a mixed forest-oil palm mosaic representative of large swaths of Malaysian Borneo; (2) Engage with local stakeholders in Sabah to understand their perspectives on bearded pig management; and (3) Link ecological data and Malaysian cultural perspectives to co-create, with the Sabah Wildlife Department, a viable action plan for sustainable management of bearded pig populations.

Prior to coming to UC Berkeley, David completed his undergraduate degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University and his master’s degree in Zoology as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge. Outside of research and school, he has worked in full-time Christian ministry and has a passion for dialogues at the intersections of theology, faith, culture, and conservation. He also enjoys playing soccer and tennis, following European soccer (especially FC Barcelona), hiking & backpacking, and traveling. Following his year in Malaysia, David hopes to continue to pursue applied conservation ecology research as well as create new partnerships between religious communities and environmentalists. 

 

 

samSamantha Schoenberger
Home Institution: Grinnell College
Host Institution: University of Malaya

Samantha is a Fulbright Research Grant recipient investigating stigma and the barriers that certain at-risk populations face when accessing treatment and healthcare services. Her project establishes an international collaboration between Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman of University of Malaya, and Dr. Karsten Lunze of Boston University, who has pioneered similar studies in Russia and Ukraine. In summer 2016, as the recipient of a summer research fellowship through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Samantha contributed to a longitudinal study on harm reduction interventions for injection drug use at Boston Medical Center’s Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit. This experience inspired her Fulbright application.

 Samantha, a native of Los Angeles, California, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and neuroscience with departmental recognition and honors from Grinnell College in May 2017. Upon completion of the Fulbright, Samantha will attend graduate school and pursue a career as a research clinician on the front lines of the United States opioid epidemic.

 

alisonAlison Mosier-Mills 
Home Institution: Yale University, CT
Host Institution: University of Malaya, Faculty of Medicine  

Alison is a recent graduate of Yale College, where she studied History of Science & Medicine and American Studies, and participated in the Yale Global Health Scholars fellowship program. She is interested in identifying barriers that impede successful access to healthcare, in order to produce research that recommends more effective healthcare policy. She has investigated this issue through her work with refugee communities in Israel, Philadelphia, and New Haven, as well as through research focused on diabetes prevention in southern Tennessee. This year, she worked with one of her professors to examine the methodological and ethical issues that arise when conducting health research in conflict and post-conflict settings. With the support of her Fulbright grant, she will study minority refugees’ experiences with healthcare services in Kuala Lumpur. Outside of the classroom, Alison enjoys writing, traveling, and producing theatrical works. Following her year in Malaysia, she hopes to continue doing public health research while pursuing a career in medicine. 

 

justinJustin Weinstock
Home Institution: Cornell University
Host Institution: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

Justin graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Asian Studies. His primary academic interests include political ecology and human-animal relations in Southeast Asia. He has extensive teaching and research experience in Indonesia, where he was an adjunct lecturer of English at Padjadjaran University in Bandung. Prior to joining the Fulbright program, Justin worked as a research assistant for Cornell’s Elephant Listening Project (ELP), where he analyzed audio recordings of African forest elephant rumbles and other vocalizations, and helped to construct a user interface for the public to tag elephant behavior in ELP’s large archive of video footage from Dzanga Bai in the Central African Republic.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, Justin will be based primarily at Malaysia’s National Elephant Conservation Center (NECC) in Kuala Gandah, Pahang, and in the Krau Wildlife Reserve where the Center is situated. He will be conducting ethnographic research on the various ways mahouts, wildlife rangers, scientists, officials, and local communities relate to and interact with the elephants that live at the NECC and in the surrounding environments of Pahang. Combining participant observation with ethology and field audio recording and analysis, he hopes to gain a deeper understanding of how the Center’s elephants bond, communicate, and work with their mahouts and interact with visitors. He will also study the government’s use of strategies that deter, relocate, and track wild elephants to mitigate their conflict with human communities over land and resources. Finally, in tandem with these investigations, Justin will work with members of the Ceq Wong community living in the Krau Wildlife Reserve to learn more about the alternative ways they have developed to  share their living environment with the megafauna in the forest. He hopes to document their knowledge of elephants by studying their myths and memories about elephants as well as their interpretation of elephant vocals, tracks, and other traces. Overall, Justin hopes his study will contribute to ongoing research on elephant ecology in human-altered landscapes and strengthen the government’s collaboration with rural communities in devising conservation and coexistence strategies with wildlife. After his year in Malaysia, Justin hopes to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in Anthropology.

 

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