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5/19/2005 Linfield students earn Fulbright awards

McMINNVILLE - Two Linfield College seniors, Alexis Lien of Salem and Maria Davis of Washougal, Wash., will study abroad next year after earning awards from the Fulbright Program.

Lien will spend the 2005-2006 academic year in Vienna, Austria, and Davis will travel to Reykjavik, Iceland. Lien and Davis are two of 14 Oregon students who earned Fulbright awards this year. Students competed with 5,672 applicants worldwide for 1,140 grants administered by the Fulbright Commission. The grants are designed to fund study, research and teaching in other countries to promote a greater understanding of different cultures and nationalities.

Davis, who will earn a bachelor’s degree in physics during Linfield’s commencement exercises May 29, will study the interaction between Iceland’s volcanoes and the thick ice sheets that cover them. She will investigate the effects sub-glacial eruptions had on the overlying ice sheets during the Pleistocene period and how they may differ from eruptions observed in 20th century Iceland.

"Residents live around the perimeter of the island because of the volcanic rock and ice sheets in the middle of the island," she said. "Volcanoes underneath these ice sheets are erupting and creating a lot of heat, but they’re not melting through the ice sheet in southeast Iceland. My job is to find out why this is not happening."

Davis plans to volunteer at a local school in Iceland to integrate her research into their science education and link female students with the country’s scientific community.

"It’s important that kids growing up there understand how unique the geology of their island is," she said. "I’d like to encourage women in the sciences and help them to understand their options."

Lien, who will also graduate this month with a double major in political science and German, will spend next year documenting the political and social position of Turkish immigrant women in Vienna, Austria. She will spend the first part of the year studying at the University of Vienna and devote the second semester to fieldwork, researching current laws and regulations to further Turkish women’s interests and protect their rights. She’d like to help bridge the gap between Turkish immigrants and the Austrian government.

"I hope to get tangible results from my research and help make a difference in the women’s lives," said Lien, who will also teach English in an Austrian secondary school.

Lien’s interest in the project was sparked by collaborative research on women’s representation in Russia with Dawn Nowacki, associate professor of political science. She honed her focus while studying in Vienna as a sophomore through Linfield’s study abroad program.

"After studying in Vienna, I realized what a salient issue this is," she said. "Women were being marginalized and there were all these issues stemming from that.

"The chance to be in Vienna on my own is a good way to bridge undergraduate work and graduate studies," she added.

Upon her return to the United States, Lien plans to complete a joint degree program with a J.D. in international law and a Ph.D. in political science. Ultimately, she hopes to pursue a career in the foreign service or as an international law attorney.

Lien and Davis are two of 10 Linfield students who have earned Fulbright grants since 1999. Their projects illustrate the broad range of opportunities for students available through the Fulbright Program, according to Deborah Olsen, Linfield’s Fulbright advisor.

"Our past recipients have included sociology, English, mass communication, anthropology, language and business majors, but Davis is our first in science and Lien our first in political science," she said.