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Reed College Senior Recipient of Prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship


Strickland plans to use his award for travel to coastal villages in Madagascar, Morocco, French Guiana, and possibly Cameroon to investigate the effects of globalization and climate change on traditional subsistence fishing communities.


PORTLAND, OR (March 20, 2008) -- Reed College senior Lukas Strickland is the recipient of a 2008 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship travel grant. Watson Fellows receive $35,000 to support a year of exploration outside of the United States.  Applicants are chosen for their passion, creativity, and their submission of a feasible plan, which contains the potential to stretch their knowledge and abilities, while widening their perspectives to include differing cultural viewpoints.

“The awards are long-term investments in people, not research,” said Rosemary Macedo executive director of the Watson Fellowship program and a former Watson Fellow. “We look for people who are likely to lead or innovate in the future and give them extraordinary independence in pursuing their interests.” Strickland is one of 50 fellows chosen from approximately 1,000 applicants.

Strickland plans to use his award for travel to coastal villages in Madagascar, Morocco, French Guiana, and possibly Cameroon to investigate the effects of globalization and climate change on traditional subsistence fishing communities.  Strickland’s grant submission was “Through the Net: Artisanal Fishing Communities in a Climate of Change.”

“Right now, I feel like the most privileged person on the planet,” said Strickland about receiving the grant.  “My reaction is overwhelming happiness and a deep sense of responsibility to pursue my project with as much energy, passion, and determination as possible.”

Strickland comes from a family of Alaska fishermen. He was raised about 40 miles northwest of Anchorage in the town of Palmer, and has been fishing with his parents in the fertile waters of Bristol Bay since he was a child. He recently bought his own boat and plans to spend this summer commercial fishing before embarking on his fellowship travels next summer. 

“I have many plans for the future,” said Strickland. “They don't necessarily exclude commercial fishing. I have never seen a workspace as inspiring and challenging as an Alaska fishing ground, and it will always be close to my heart.”

Since its inception in 1968, more than 2,500 college seniors have become Watson Fellows. They have gone on to become college presidents, CEOs of major corporations, and the recipients of MacArthur genius grants.