As the 2012 recipient of the J. Leslie Rollins Fellowship Award at Buena Vista University, Laura Page, a junior biology major from Hutchinson, Kan., will return to Navarino Island and the Omora Ethnobotanical Park in the southern tip of Chile to continue research and collaborations she initiated as one of the six students in BVU’s inaugural Global Fellows program in January 2012.
The Global Fellows program is designed to link the globalism focus of BVU’s University Seminar for first-year students with a significant academically-oriented international experience and service to the University community through presentations and mentorship.
The J. Leslie Rollins Fellowship is a highly competitive award given each year to a sophomore to allow the student to develop his/her talents and interests beyond the opportunities in the normal curriculum of the university.
“Having the opportunity to return to Chile was a contributing factor in my enthusiasm for this trip. I loved my experience there and this fellowship will allow me to dive deeper into the learning that began when I traveled with the Global Fellows,” says Laura. “My current career goals consist of pursuing scientific research so this experience will help me expand into other disciplines and maybe incite new interests.”
Laura will be working directly with Dr. Ricardo Rozzi, co-director of Omora Park. Rozzi is a Chilean ecologist and philosopher who teaches at the University of North Texas (UNT) and the Universidad de Magallanes, Chile. His research combines both disciplines through the study of the interrelations between the ways of knowing and inhabiting the natural world.
“We worked hard together to refine the project and make sure all of the arrangements could be made. Despite the hard work and rapid pace, collaborating with such intelligent and inspiring people was very rewarding and fun,” Laura says.
Laura and Rozzi and will be studying the perception of Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic region through the lens of language. This study is particularly important as challenges begin to arise with the nearing expiration of the Antarctic treaties from the Cold War. In addition, Antarctica has gained global awareness because of global climate change. The connections between the Omora Ethnobotanical Park and Antarctica as well as the growing importance of this region in the global mind, make this project even more relevant, according to Dr. Melinda Coogan, assistant professor of biology at BVU.
“The availability of professors, travel opportunities, and encouragement from my mentors here gave me the support to pursue such an incredible opportunity,” says Laura. “Working closely with my BVU professors gave me the confidence to contact Dr. Rozzi, Dr. Jimenez, and Dr. Kennedy – all of whom I met with the Global Fellows in 2012. The Global Fellows trip also inspired me to develop a project of this nature and fueled my love of traveling.”
Laura will leave the United States on Dec. 19 and begin her work with the Omora project in Puerto Williams, while dividing her time between Puerto Williams and Punta Arenas where the University of Magallanes is located. Coogan will be traveling to the region with the next group of Global Fellows in late December. Laura and Coogan are making plans to connect and travel to Antarctica.