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Alec Bernstein ’11, Erin D’Amelio ’13 (Mount Bethel, Pa.), Nicole Dieterich ’13 (Hewitt, N.J.), and Chris Kelly ’13 (Boyertown, Pa.) are recipients of the prestigious Fulbright award.  As a Fulbright scholar, Bernstein will travel to the West Bengal region of India to assess the sustainability of water systems; D’Amelio will travel to Malaysia through an English Teaching Assistantship; Dieterich will travel to Salzburg, Austria, to study rehabilitation treatments for stroke victims; and Kelly will conduct sea-level research in Durban, South Africa, with Andy Green at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Alec Bernstein '11 talks David Brandes, who is sitting behind a laptop computer in his office.

Alec Bernstein ’11 (left) works on a project with David Brandes, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Bernstein, who majored in civil engineering, will partner with the Bengal Engineering and Science University, as well as with organizations such as Water for People and Engineers Without Borders, to complete his project.  He will work to determine the causes behind the failure of water supply and sanitation projects, often installed by non-governmental organizations.

“Too many of these projects fail within a few years of implementation due to inadequate maintenance or the inability to pay the costs associated with project upkeep,” he says.  “I am trying to work on designing a framework for developing and monitoring that will allow these organizations to partner with communities in a sustainable way, so projects have a higher chance of success.”

Bernstein found inspiration for his project from his experience with Lafayette’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.  President of the chapter during his time at Lafayette, Bernstein traveled to a village in rural Honduras, where the group worked to establish a clean water system.  It was during this time that Bernstein first began imagining possibilities for improving the way these systems are installed.

While at Lafayette, Bernstein was also involved in the Steel Bridge Team, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the EXCEL Scholars undergraduate research program with David Brandes, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.  He was a head resident adviser, an academic tutor, and a supplemental instructor for the Nature of Materials course.  He is completing his masters degree in civil engineering at University of Massachusetts, and plans to continue developing sustainable water systems for the global community.

Erin D'Amelio '13 stands in front of a chalkboard in a classroom in Madagascar.

Erin D’Amelio ’13 working with the LIME students

A double major in English and French, D’Amelio has committed a large portion of her time and energy to several groups and projects emphasizing literacy and community service.

She spent a summer interning with Judith’s Reading Room, a Bethlehem-based nonprofit that donates customized libraries to nursing homes, after-school programs, women’s shelters, and other groups. Through the organization, she teamed with Kirby Hall of Civil Rights librarian Ana Ramirez Luhrs to orchestrate last year’s Banned Books Week on campus, a series of events that addressed the banning of books by schools, bookstores, and libraries across the country.  One of these events was a flash mob in Skillman Library that received national media attention from The Washington Post and the New York Daily News. 

She will continue her work with Judith’s Reading Room through her Fulbright experience and will be establishing a library in a Malaysian community and promoting literacy in the area.

“Reading, for me, has been integral to who I am as a person. Providing and promoting this activity, especially in a new language, opens up these students’ minds to a new way of thinking,” she says. “This Fulbright opportunity benefits everyone, as both the Malaysian students and I increase our worldview and become more engaged global citizens.”

D’Amelio is a member of Lafayette Initiative for Malagasy Education (LIME), a peer-mentoring program in which Lafayette students help Malagasy students overcome the language barrier and other disadvantages so that they can pursue their dreams of receiving a college education at an American school. As part of LIME, she spent three weeks in Madagascar in January 2012, teaching high school students about the college application process and helping them get more comfortable speaking English.

She spent a semester studying in Paris, France, and is currently interning as an editor and writer for the non-profit Haydenfilms Institute. She is also involved in French Club, through which she teaches the language to students at Easton Area Middle School, and is a mentor writing associate with the College Writing program.

Nicole Dieterich '13 sits and discusses her experiences in Germany by a desk with a computer

Nicole Dieterich ’13 discusses her experiences in Germany during the College’s Undergraduate Research Conference in German Studies.

Dieterich, a neuroscience major and German minor, will work with the senior physician of the department of neurology at the Paracelsus Private Medical University of Salzburg.  Together, they will examine the effects of a stroke treatment involving electrical stimulation.  Despite recent advances in stroke rehabilitation, Dieterich says, only one-third of all stroke patients regain dexterity within six months.  The treatment she will be exploring has shown potential for creating lasting improvement in patients.  While in Salzburg, Dieterich will also teach English at a local school.

“I have always wanted to pursue research in the field of rehabilitative neuroscience, and I have now been granted this amazing opportunity, thanks to Fulbright,” she says.

Dieterich majored in neuroscience because she was fascinated with the brain and nervous system, and was adamant about exploring the rehabilitative aspects of this field after witnessing a close friend struggle with physical disabilities after a stroke.

At Lafayette, Dieterich is a leader in the German Club, vice president of the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society, and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.  Her sophomore year, she studied abroad in Bonn, Germany, and this summer she traveled to Mauer-Amstetten, Austria, where she conducted Parkinson’s disease research.  She was also an EXCEL Scholar, working with Bernard Fried, Kreider Professor Emeritus of Biology, and Joseph Sherma, Larkin Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, to research a parasitic disease caused by polluted water sources.  She also credits Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, professor of foreign languages and literatures (German), for encouraging her to apply for a Fulbright grant.

Chris Kelly ’13 goes over research results with Professor Kira Lawrence at a computer in Van Wickle Hall.

Chris Kelly ’13 goes over research results with Professor Kira Lawrence in Van Wickle Hall.

Kelly, a double major in geology and international affairs, has found his niche in the geoscience field of climate research. He recently presented his research on the climatic evolution of the South Atlantic Ocean throughout the past 10 million years at the 48th annual meeting of the Northeast Section of the Geological Society of America. He and his adviser, Kira Lawrence, associate professor of geology and environmental geosciences, used a geochemical analysis technique involving the algae that live at the ocean surface to estimate past ocean surface temperatures.

Kelly, who worked as an EXCEL Scholar, was interested in investigating the climate of the earth at this time because the earth was considerably warmer than it is now. He is also completing an honors thesis on the climate of the Miocene Epoch with Lawrence.

“This time period could provide a possible analogue for the climate state towards which we are headed due primarily to modern human-induced climate change,” he says.

Kelly received the Goldwater Scholarship last year, which is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. He also received a student fellowship to participate in the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass.

Kelly spent a semester studying environmental conservation and wildlife management in Namibia, and studied the evolution of life and land in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands during a three-week study abroad course taught over the January interim session by geology professors Lawrence Malinconico and David Sunderlin and Provost Wendy Hill. He also studied German language and culture in Bonn, Germany, for six weeks in a program hosted by Lamb-Fafflelberger.

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