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Two Pomona College Students Awarded the Prestigious Watson Fellowships

Two Pomona College seniors, Brendan J. McCollam and Michael Stout, were awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships—grants that provide $25,000 to each fellow in order to pursue independent research and travel abroad.

Stout, a mathematical economics major, will travel through South America and Australia pursuing a project entitled “Transitions of Sport Culture: Win at All Costs Versus the Spirit of the Game”—focusing on Ultimate Frisbee. His aim is to observe how more masculine societies with aggressive and even violent sport cultures adapt to a sport grounded upon the spirit of the game and sportsmanship—particularly in how they self-officiate, how they resolve conflicts, and international rivalries, compared to the game of soccer.

McCollam, a neuroscience major, will travel to The Netherlands, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Mexico, Argentina and Chile for his project entitled “Coding the Revolution: Discovering a Radical Philosophy in Free Software.” He will explore how “hacktivists, techno-anarchists, disruptive technology advocates”—or simply hackers—run community centers, providing free Internet access using free software and salvaged hardware. McCollam wants to examine how groups in these countries have adopted and adapted the philosophical underpinnings of free software in the real world.

The Watson Foundation provides 50 of these fellowships annually, which are awarded for study and research outside the United States. The year of travel provides an opportunity for fellows to explore interests of international scope.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.