Mass. -- Wellesley College seniors Catherine Brinkley
and Anna Kurien are two of 50 college seniors nationwide
selected to receive a 2004-2005 Watson Fellowship, worth
Brinkley, the daughter of Margaret and Melvin Brinkley
of Las Vegas, Nevada, the award will allow her
the world next year in an independent project called "Designing
the Ark: A Study of Zoo Architecture."
"I will travel to South Africa, Madagascar and the
Ukraine in an effort to understand zoo architecture and
the impact of zoos on conservation efforts," Brinkley
explained, noting that these countries are home to some
of the world's most unique fauna. "I will interview
caretakers, curators, researchers and speak with some visitors
about their interest in visiting zoos."
Brinkley aims to find out about how zoos work and compile
ideas to share with zoos around the world. Among her goals
is to determine what kind of housing best showcases an
animal, allows for natural behavior and encourages breeding.
She will study zoo species' composition and its effect
on how we feel about conservation.
"For example, most North American zoos house more
African animals that native North American animals, and
this is reflected in popular conservation efforts to save
Africa and the rainforest while little or no attention
is paid to North American habitats," Brinkley said.
She will also research the architecture of cages, hoping
to find ones that suit the needs of animals, caretakers,
researchers and visitors.
"I plan to discuss the innovative methods of each
zoo for showing and caring for their animals in my report," Brinkley
said. "I will compile the data I gather and compare
it with zoos that I have visited in the United States,
Costa Rica and Europe and make my findings available to
zoos worldwide through a Web site."
Brinkley says that zoos have changed in scope and outlook
in today's world.
"The zoo’s shift from entertainer to educator
and the major reconstruction of zoos in North America and
Europe creates a special need to evaluate zoo methods of
displaying animals," she noted. "As a pre-veterinary
student with an interest in exotic animals, I have invested
interest in zoo architecture. Zoo architecture not only
has huge impact on the health and well-being of the animals
that the zoo houses, but also potentially impacts the effectiveness
of conservation programs protecting animals in the wild."
Earlier this school year, Brinkley won a Schiff Fellowship,
which includes a minimum award of $2,000 to support studies,
fieldwork, interviews and library or archival research.
She won the Schiff award for her research project, Exploring
Behavior: Active Regions of the Brain Visualized with Manganese-Enhanced
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
biological sciences and Russian major, Brinkley has traveled
to Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia, with a Wellesley
College study program, to study another biologically diverse
region. She won the Three Generations Prize for writing
in the sciences during junior year and has been a member
of the sailing and varsity fencing teams. She plans to
attend veterinary school following her year of travel and
study with the Watson Fellowship.
Watson award will allow Kurien, the daughter of Shiny
Joseph Kurien and
Joseph Kurien of Cochin, Kerala, India,
to pursue an independent project called "Creole in
the Caribbean.” She will travel to Jamaica, St. Lucia,
Martinique and Guadeloupe in pursuit of her studies.
“I intend to study international human rights law and
go back to my country, India, and work for 10-15 years before
embarking on the international scene,” she said of
her long-term goals. “I eventually hope to make
international human rights law and justice less western-dominated.”
English and French cultural studies major, Kurien is
a United World College Davis Scholar at Wellesley and previously
attended the Mahindra United World College of India.
Wellesley, she has won academic distinction and spent
a study-abroad semester in Senegal and a summer internship
at the Hague observing the Milosevic trial. She plans
attend law school after her year of travel through the
Watson Fellowship. As a Watson Fellow, she will study
language in particular, which she says can create barriers
"Exploring and learning Creole in the Caribbean, I shall
have the liberty to live and learn in cultures where the
mélange of languages is a productive event that
has given birth to a legitimate and unique language," she
said. "I shall have, for the first time in my life,
the opportunity to learn a new language in which the
oral is given precedence over the written word, where
way to learn is by immersing myself in the host culture
and learning from it."
Watson Fellowship offers a world of opportunity to Kurien. "I am deeply honored
to have been selected," she
said. "I love the structure of the Watson, with
its emphasis on world travel. To me, traveling, staying
host families and negotiating the everyday realities
of a foreign culture, are the building blocks of world
(Journalist) Bill Moyers has said that the aim of education
is to be able to imagine reality from someone else's
point of view, and this is what I look forward to doing
year as a Watson fellow."
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing
an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will
make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near
Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all
50 states and 68 countries. For more information, go to