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Three Reed College grads win Fulbrights in 2006

Michael Casper, Anna Henke, and Ben Kukull win Fulbrights to study, teach overseas

PORTLAND, OR (June 29, 2006) – Three Reed College students who graduated in May are among over 1,200 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2006-2007 academic year through the Fulbright Student Program.

Michael Casper, a religion major from Newton, Mass., plans to use his award to conduct research in Lithuania. He will undertake an examination of the historical and contemporary relations between Hasidim and their so-called “Opponents,” the Lithuanian “Misnogdim.”

“Vilna, Lithuania's capital, was once a major center of Yiddish literary and intellectual life,” said Casper. “For me, it is a unique opportunity to study in such a city while improving my Yiddish with native speakers.” Casper’s senior thesis—the year-long research project that all seniors must complete before graduation—was titled “Day of the Living Dead: The Spirit Possession Paradigm in Early Modern Yiddish.”

Anna Henke is heading to Germany. The native of North Carolina majored in German at Reed, winning a North American Freshman Scholarship for Study at the Free University of Berlin. Henke will teach English at a high school in Germany for a year. “I hope to improve my fluency before taking up graduate studies in German,” said Henke.

Ben Kukull, from Shoreline, Wash., majored in Biology at Reed. He plans to use his award to continue his research in Prague, working with Dr. Tomas Ruml at the Czech Academy of the Sciences on assembly of the structural proteins of the Mason-Pfizer Monkey Virus, M-PMV, a virus closely related to HIV-1. Kukull will also undertake advanced studies in Czech scientific language at Charles University, where Kukull studied for a year as an undergrad. “ I hope to learn more about novel ways to combat HIV-1,” said Kukull, “and increase my understanding of inevitable cross-cultural disparities in the scientific process between the Czech Republic and the United States that result from the Czech-English language gap.”

When he returns to the U.S., Kukull plans to study the global dynamics and consequences of viral diseases in humans. “I want to maintain an internationally active position in the scientific communities of Central and Eastern Europe,” said Kukull.