NCS Students Travel Far and Wide on Fellowships

Each year, NCS awards fellowships to allow rising seniors to pursue an independent project during the summer. The students then report on their findings to the Upper School at winter assemblies.
The recipients of the Lauren Sarah Hester '87 Fellowship were Farah Emory-Muhammad '17, Paige Buckley '17, and Caitlin McNamara '17. Indira Rajkumar '17 received the Raiser Environmental Fellowship, which funds a self-designed scientific research program in the fields of environmental science, biodiversity, conservation, or the impact of environmental degradation or pollution on human life.
Emory-Muhammad pursued a study of "Economic and Political Aspirations of Catalan Citizens." The Spanish region of Catalonia, in the country's northeast, has been discussing independence for nearly 100 years; in a nonbinding 2014 referendum, independence drew more than 80 percent of votes. But the Madrid government remains steadfastly opposed to Catalan independence.
Emory-Muhammad's research was particularly timely because her visit to Barcelona coincided with the United Kingdom's Brexit vote, an event that prompted discussion across Europe about reconsidering political ties.
Buckley and McNamara investigated "Food Waste in America: A Growing National Crisis" by traveling to suburban Boston. Research shows that 40 percent of food in this country goes uneaten, even as a significant number of Americans can't get enough to eat. Buckley and McNamara looked at different facets of this issue.
They spoke to officials at a market that specializes in produce that is fresh and healthy but not visually appealing. The store turns this harvest into "grab-and-go" soups, stews and salads, providing healthier fare for a population that with a median annual income of $44,000 and keeping tons of food out of landfills. McNamara and Buckley also toured a facility in Massachusetts that turns food waste into a biogas, which can be used for electrical power generation.
Rajkumar traveled to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to learn more about how satellites track patterns in climate change. Her research connected her with scientists in NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP), a satellite that tracks the amount of moisture in Earth's topsoils. The top two inches of topsoil play a crucial role in everything from agriculture to weather and climate, and the amount of moisture in the soil provides clues about weather trends and even the crop growth farmers should expect.
We congratulate these fellows on their spirit of inquiry, and we look forward to hearing from the 2017 fellows next school year:
Hester Fellowships:
  • Brett Pearson '18 will examine how early instruction in math differs between inner-city London and inner-city Washington.
  • Kimberly Tan '18 will examine the impacts and effectiveness of disaster-relief architecture in Nepal.
Raiser Environmental Fellowships:
  • Beata Corcoran '18 will assess the impact of unconventional oil and gas development on groundwater quality.
  • Ashley Cullina '18 will examine how pollution has affected Irish marine life and aquaculture.
  • Vanessa Wydeven '18 will delve into timber wolf conservation and population management.
Koch Fellowships:
  • Naomi Davy '18 and Natalie Kalitsi '18 are the 2017 recipients of the Koch Fellowship, which honors "consistent excellence in expository writing." It provides for their attendance at the Oxford Tradition, an academic program in Pembroke and Corpus Christi Colleges, Oxford University.
    • Indira Rajkumar '17 with Skye Raiser '85, who established the environmental fellowship.

    • Paige Buckley '17, Caitlin McNamara, Ted Hester (who co-founded the Hester fellowship), former faculty Susan Easton and Sue Basile, and Farah Emory-Muhammad '17.