Returned Fellows 2019 - 2020

Elizabeth Nowlin

Elizabeth Nowlin
Location

Tanzania

Focus

Human-wildlife conflict mitigation

Bio

Elizabeth Nowlin, originally from Jacksonville, North Carolina, graduated from Duke in 2019 with a degree in environmental science and policy and a certificate in marine science and conservation leadership. While at Duke, Elizabeth focused on environmental science education and communication as part of DukeEngage Kaua’i as well as during her semester away at the Duke University Marine Lab. Elizabeth also explored her passion for wildlife conservation and human-wildlife interactions by assisting the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative grantees with their research at the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary in Namibia.

Summary

Elizabeth Nowlin is spending her fellowship year in Tanzania at the Noloholo Environmental Center on the border of Tarangire National Park, where she is working with Tanzania People and Wildlife. TPW works to promote sustainable and community-engaged human-wildlife conflict mitigation.

Many times in the conservation field, visitors come to an area with the sole objective of bringing back wildlife. However, they do not understand or consider the complex dynamics that exist in areas where humans and wildlife live in close proximity. TPW seeks a different model, partnering with rural people to develop community-based conservation models that lead to long-term wins for both humans and animals.

Elizabeth hopes to conduct an evaluation of TPW’s community rangeland management program. The goal is to document the program’s impact and clarify its decision-making process.

Elizabeth Nowlin with an elephant bone

Elizabeth with a large elephant bone.

Excerpts from Elizabeth's Writing
Open

Luiza Perez

Luiza Perez
Location

São Paulo, Brazil

Focus

Geynecological health and cervical cancer screening

Bio

Luiza Perez, originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, graduated in May 2019 with a degree in sociology and global health. During her time at Duke, she was engaged in multiple research projects, ranging from studying occupational risk factors of Leishmaniasis in the Peruvian Amazon, and examining the epigenetic effects of mercury exposure, to developing sustainable ways to implement an innovative sanitation system in rural Brazil. Her honors thesis explored the link between maternal reproductive health and child health in Peru. Luiza is passionate about equitable development in Latin America and has worked on community-based projects in Uruguay, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil. 

Summary

Luiza Perez is spending her fellowship year in São Paulo, Brazil, where she is collaborating with the Albert Einstein Foundation, an organization that runs a network of hospitals and a medical school.

Luiza hopes to study how the Callascope—an innovative tool for cervix visualization developed at Duke—could aid her community partner’s current programs. In a society where conversations about reproductive health are taboo even in highly educated circles, fostering opportunities for women to discover their bodies can be very important. She seeks to understand how the Callascope could work in an urban Brazilian context, setting the foundation for future studies and eventual clinical and educational use in primary care settings.

Luiza Perez presents to medical staff

Luiza (far right) speaks with colleagues in São Paulo.

Excerpts from Luiza's Writing
Open

Rachel Rubin

Rachel Rubin
Location

Madison, West Virginia

Focus

Policy responses to drug addiction

Bio

Rachel Rubin, originally from Fresno, CA, graduated from Duke in 2019 with a degree in public policy studies. has spent the past two summers working in West Virginia around issues of criminal justice reform and social policy. At Duke, she was an Alice M. Baldwin Scholar and participant in the Hart Leadership Program’s Political Engagement Pilot Project, and a member of the women's Ultimate Frisbee time.

Summary

Rachel Rubin spent her fellowship in West Virginia (pop. 22,000) with the Southwestern Regional Day Report Center (SRDRC) implementing a Fresh Start Program in Logan County for those leaving prison for drug offenses. At the center of the program was agricultural and artisan programming, aimed at reconnecting clients with their communities. The program offers community mentoring, interagency teamwork, life-based skills, and credit attainment through the local community college. She will also help neighboring Boone County set up a Family Treatment Court.

Boone County has been one of the hardest hit communities by the Opioid Epidemic. One pharmacy filled enough opiate prescriptions to give more than 100 pills per year for every man, woman, and child in the county. The epidemic has also cost Boone County the greatest amount per capita of any county in the United States.

Rubin studied the most harmful aspects of drug use in Boone County and how that might be mitigated.

Rachel Rubin in West Virginia

Rachel Rubin in West Virginia.

Amulya Vadapalli

Amulya Vadapalli
Location

Focus

Legal and humanitarian needs of migrants

Bio

Amulya Vadapalli, originally from New Delhi, India, graduated in 2019, with a degree in Arabic and public policy studies. At Duke, her interest in human rights and social justice drew her to write an honors thesis focused on the war in Yemen, building on her work as an intern at the Yemen Peace Project. She has previously interned at Tamkeen - Fields for Aid in Amman, Jordan (on a Service Opportunities in Leadership grant) and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. On campus, she was president of the Senior Class, captain of Lasya, Duke’s Indian classical dance team, and founded the Arabic Majors Union.

Summary

Amulya Vadapalli spent her fellowship year in Amman, Jordan, where she partnered with the Collateral Repair Project on its efforts to aid Yemeni refugees. CRP recently opened a new center dedicated to supporting the needs of Yemeni and Sudanese refugees in Jordan.

There are thousands of Yemeni refugees in Jordan, the result of a civil war that the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. However, they receive far fewer services from the government and NGOs than refugees from Syria and Iraq. CRP has stepped up to fill the void by providing services to Yemenis in Amman.

Working with the organization’s monitoring and evaluation office, Amulya studied CRP’s programs to see which are best serving the needs of refugees and which can be improved.

Amulya and volunteers with the Collateral Repair Project.

Amulya (second from the left on the bottom row) and volunteers with the Collateral Repair Project.

Connor Vasu

Connor Vasu
Location

Dilley, Texas

Focus

Legal and humanitarian needs of migrants

Bio

Connor Vasu, originally from Newton, MA, graduated in 2019 with a degree in public policy studies. At Duke, he conducted research on energy in Paraguay and participated in DukeEngage Durban South Africa. He also created a presentation on immigrant rights that has been used by advocacy organizations across North Carolina.

Summary

Connor Vasu spent his fellowship year in Dilley, Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border. He is working with the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP) at the Dilley Detention Center in Texas to help better understand the legal and humanitarian needs of migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border.

The privately-run Dilley detention center is the largest in the country, holding up to 2,400 woamen and children, almost all of whom are seeking asylum. Tapping national enthusiasm surrounding immigrant rights, the DPBP has developed an innovative model—relying on volunteers from around the country to provide pro bono services through one-week service trips. Staff manages volunteers, conducts intakes and represents detainees in expedited hearings, in addition to challenging immigration policies in federal court and collaborating with other nonprofit partners on immigration advocacy and reform.

He helped with the organization’s ongoing mission of providing legal services to migrants in detention facilities.

Connor Vasu with volunteers

Connor Vasu (top center) with volunteers at the Dilley Pro Bono Project.

Recent Posts

Tyler Kopp and Sujal Manohar

Announcing the 2020-21 Hart Fellows

From an outstanding pool of applicants, two graduating seniors — Tyler Kopp and Sujal Manohar — were selected as this year’s Hart Fellows.