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2011-2012 FLAS Fellowship Recipients

Each year, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center has the privilege of administering a variety of Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) graduate and undergraduate fellowships.  These fellowships provide the cost of tuition at Indiana University and a stipend for those students engaged with, and actively studying, the languages from the IAUNRC’s regions of interest.  This year is no exception, and there are currently nine top-notch IU graduate and undergraduate students currently studying on FLAS fellowships under the auspices of the IAUNRC.  We’ve asked each of the recipients to share a little bit about themselves here.


Jason Blind is a second-year graduate student in the Sociology Department. He graduated from Central Michigan University in 2010. His academic interests are related to the sociology of children and youth, education, and social psychology. He is particularly interested in examining the development of “peer culture” and identity within different cultural and structural environments. As an undergraduate at CMU, Jason studied the academic and social lives of Finnish university students. As a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University, he is committed to continuing his study of Finland and the Finnish language.

Miriam J. Woods grew up in Texas and studied religion at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  After graduating in 2007 with a senior thesis entitled Formation of Religious and National Identities in Pakistani Educational Systems, Miriam taught English in Kocaeli, Turkey and worked as an English language evaluator at Berlitz Testing in southern California.   Miriam entered the IU Central Eurasian Studies Department’s MA program in the fall of 2010, and joined the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology as an MA student in 2011. During 2011, she was also a Critical Language Scholarship recipient and studied Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  Upon completing her dual M.A., Miriam hopes to continue on to a joint Ph.D between her two departments, focusing on Central Asian material culture.

Stacey Pollack is currently pursuing an MA in Public Affairs in International Policy Analysis at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  Prior to graduate school, Stacey worked in the non-profit sector and had the opportunity to participate in international education programs that brought her in contact with high-profile leaders from around the globe.  Stacey graduated with a BA in Russian Regional Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2007.  She speaks Russian and Hebrew, and is currently studying Uzbek at IU.

Pete Faggen is a Ph.D student in Tibetan Studies at IU’s Department of Central Eurasian Studies and enjoys being on the ground in Asia as much as working in the classroom. Pete spent the past summer in Kathmandu, Nepal at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, where he improved his Tibetan language ability and worked on his dissertation focused around authority and conflict in the rare Gungru Khandroma female reincarnate lineage located near the Labrang Monastery in Gansu, China.  Six months before that, Pete–-no stranger to the cold from his 13 years in Bozeman, Montana–-spent time in the frigid air of Labrang, where he conducted research on the conflict surrounding the legitimacy of the seventh reincarnate. This semester Pete has presented his research findings at the Central Eurasian Studies Society in Columbus, Ohio, and recently at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in San Francisco. Following the end of this academic year, Pete hopes to return to China to conduct more research and continue to improve his Tibetan.

Gabrielle Cherney is a junior at IU, majoring in Political Science and Philosophy and pursuing a minor in Iranian Studies (with language certification in Farsi through the Central Eurasian Studies Department). She is honored to be the first undergraduate student to receive FLAS funding through the IAUNRC for Persian. During the fall 2011 semester she had the opportunity to give a presentation on Ancient Persia at a local middle school, and is looking forward to working with the Center on outreach programs.  Gabrielle hopes to one day infuse the historical and cultural understanding she has been exposed to at IU into political discussions on Iran–-to create a better understanding of the region and how it can be approached.

As an MA student at once in both CEUS and REEI, Meghan White has primarily focused her studies on exploring the Russian Empire's impact on Central Asian conceptions and performances of political power, leadership, authority, and legitimacy.  Meghan is eager to apply her research to an analysis of contemporary and future Central Asian political discourse and developments.  Having travelled and worked throughout the Russian Federation, she is hoping to soon see Central Asia and put her Russian, Tajik, and Uzbek language skills to good use.

Kenneth E. Linden is a 2011 FLAS Mongolian award recipient and is currently in his third year of studying Mongolian. He received his bachelor’s degree at the Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he majored in History and minored in East Asian Studies. Currently in his second year of the Central Eurasian Studies M.A. program, Kenneth plans on continue into the department’s Ph.D. program and ultimately pursue a career in academia. He is primarily interested in the history of the Mongolian plateau, and has so far focused his research around questions related to the Mongolian Empire, de-Stalinization in the Mongolian People’s Republic, and the intellectual history of Genghis Khan.

A student of the Tibetan language for over a decade, Eric Fry-Miller has also spent many years translating for a number of Tibetan Lamas. His main academic interests include Tibetan history and its relationship to greater Asia, the history of vajrayana Buddhism within the scope of its political and social environments, the interpretation and reformulation of vajrayana doctrines in Tibet, and the literary genre of Tibetan legends. In addition, Eric has conducted targeted research on the 11th century preeminent translator Marpa Chokyi Lodro, the Six Dharmas of Naropa, ‘khrul ‘khor, mahamudra, the varieties of Dzogchen practice, sexual practices in the vajrayana, and early Nyingma and Kagyu history. Eric is also very interested contributing in whatever means possible to the preservation and development of Tibetan culture.

Originally from Lawton, Oklahoma, Mark Moll received a BA in International Affairs and History from George Washington University. After graduation he also completed MAs in History and Nationalism Studies from GWU and Central European University in Budapest, respectively. He is now a first-year CEUS student where he was awarded a FLAS for the study of third-year Estonian. His research interests include the intersection of nationalism and social democracy at the turn of the century, as well as the response of Baltic Germans to the Estonian national awakening.