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BDP Students and Faculty Well-Represented in New President’s Award

Eight Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) students and three BDP Faculty Panel members are researching abroad this summer as winners of the inaugural President’s Award for Global Learning. This award competition, created by The University of Texas at Austin’s International Board of Advisors, encourages students and faculty to work together to develop interdisciplinary, international research initiatives. Teams consisting of up to four students from different majors, a faculty leader, and up to two additional faculty mentors proposed research projects centered in one of seven regions. Two teams per region were then selected as finalists and asked to give pitch presentations to a committee appointed by UT President Greg Fenves. One winning team was selected per region and awarded funding and research support to execute the proposed project. BDP students and faculty are participating in five of the seven winning teams.

The team chosen for the African region includes BDP students Rebecca Chen (Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship) and Christina Cho (Social Entrepreneurship & Non-profits), as well as Dr. Meme Drumwright, co-chair of the Ethics & Leadership and Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies Faculty Panels. Their project, “The Color Complex: Unraveling the Stigma of Colorism in Global Communities,” will explore the influences of colorism in Ghana through the lenses of media and business.

Environment & Sustainability student Katelyn DeBacker and Environment & Sustainability Faculty Panel member Dr. Lucy Atkinson are part of the team researching in Southeast Asia. Their team’s project, titled “Addressing Cambodia’s Waste Management Challenges,” will be testing a pilot educational model to encourage shifts in cultural views on waste.

Public Policy student Christina Ciaburri and Social Inequality, Health & Policy student Veronica Remmert will be completing a comprehensive assessment of health needs, determinants, and resources in underserved regions of Puebla, Mexico, focusing on aspects of the built environment for their project as part of the team selected for the Latin America region: “Health and Housing: A Comprehensive Needs Assessment of Low-Income Communities in Puebla, Mexico.”

The Middle East and Central Asia team includes Social Inequality, Health & Policy student Priya Ramamoorthy. This team is researching empowerment for women in refugee camps in Lebanon through the creation of sustainable menstrual hygiene products for their project: “Women’s Hygiene, Empowerment and Research for Social Impact.”

Michael Sanchez, completing a certificate in Design Strategies, is a member of the team centered in Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus. The team’s project, “Lowering Maternal Mortality Rates: What Texas Can Learn from the Republic of Georgia,” aims to help Texas reduce its maternal mortality rate by examining other successful methods.

The East Asia team includes Human Rights & Social Justice student Patience Ojionuka and Design Strategies Faculty Panel member Dr. Carma Gorman. This team is researching whether culturally grounded intervention programs, through the use of a mobile app and in-person workshops, can have an impact on people’s opinions on mental illness and suicide in South Korea for their project: “A New State of Mind: Mental Health in South Korea.”

The BDPs were also represented among the other finalist teams, including students Abigail Kuchek (Human Rights & Social Justice) and Maya Patel (Public Policy) as part of a team researching youth and social media in Ukraine; Digital Arts & Media students Chelsea Daniel and Olivia Lynch on a team seeking to promote the works of minority composers and musicians in Cuba to increase representation in the classical music industry; and a team whose members include Sriram Palepu, an Environment & Sustainability student, and Dr. Michael Findlay, member of the Ethics & Leadership and Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies Faculty Panels, working to reduce the risk of human trafficking by establishing microenterprises for women in refugee camps.

We extend our sincere congratulations to all BDP students and faculty who were finalists or winners of the President’s Award for Global Learning!