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From the Arctic to the Tropics, a pair of Pomona students will explore overseas cultures with prestigious Watson Fellowships.

Pomona seniors Megan Groth and Laurel McFadden have been awarded prestigious  Thomas J. Watson Fellowships, providing each with $25,000 to pursue independent study overseas after graduating.

A biology major, Groth plans to visit China, Japan, Costa Rica and Ecuador to study the art, culture and practice of bamboo construction and design. With home stays, she plans to immerse herself in cultures that use bamboo in their daily lives. She also  intends to work side by side with growers, harvesters and builders.

McFadden will travel to Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia to pursue a photographic examination of "social and personal strength in a variety of cultures coping with the extremes of the Arctic." Through photography she plans to document patterns of communication, tradition, emotion and social interaction as she lives in different communities at different stages of the Arctic seasons. At Pomona, McFadden is majoring in Science, Technology and Society.

The Watson Foundation, which provides 50 of these fellowships each year, stipulates that the fellows may not return to the United States during the 12 months of the fellowship, and the projects are designed to be a truly independent experience where the fellow’s agenda and research is self-motivated and pursued individually.