Five Bates College students receive Philip J. Otis Fellowships

Five Bates College students have received Philip J. Otis Fellowships to support exceptional research into the relationship among individuals and societies and the natural world, the Dean of the Faculty’s office at Bates has announced.

The five are Colin Hollister, a sophomore from Pittsfield, Mass.; Peter Keays, a sophomore from Madison, N.J.; Nicholas Martin, a junior economics major from Hopkinton, N.H.; Khoabane Phoofolo, a sophomore from Maseru, Lesotho; and Brian Wilmot, a junior political science major from Bellingham, Wash.

For their project “The Appalachian Trial and a Sense of Self,” Hollister and Keays will hike the entire Appalachian Trial to better understand why individuals become through-hikers and how the experience influences one’s sense of self and relationship with the natural world. Through interviews, photography and personal experiences, they will investigate the AT’s “through-hiking culture.”

Martin, for a project titled “Mining in Mongolia: How Do the Herders Fit In?”, will explore the effects of the Ivanhoe mines in Mongolia on the traditional nomadic people of the area around the mines currently under development. He will speak and interact with the herders to learn more about the place of Mongolian culture in a changing world.

For his project “Lesotho’s White Gold,” Phoofolo will take part in a grassroots project to bring water security and improved sanitation to Lesotho. He will also explore the human impact of four major dams constructed as one of Africa’s most ambitious engineering schemes, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Wilmot’s project is titled “How Individuals, Governments and NGOs Balance Environmental Preservation and Economic Growth.” He will spend the summer in the region of Russia around Lake Baikal, an enormous freshwater lake of great environmental, economic and spiritual importance to Russians, Siberians and Mongolians.

Established in 1996 by Margaret V.B. and C. Angus Wurtele, the Philip J. Otis Endowment commemorates their son, Philip, a member of the Bates class of 1995. A park ranger, Otis died attempting to rescue an injured climber on Mount Rainier.

Otis was deeply concerned with nurturing a sense of responsibility for the natural environment. The Otis Endowment sponsors opportunities for study, exploration and reflection by students, faculty and other members of the Bates community. The endowment also supports an annual lectureship on environmental issues and the spiritual and moral dimensions of ecology.

Each year a small number of students, usually two to five, are selected as Otis Fellows to receive grants between $2,000 and $5,000 to support off-campus projects that explore an environmental and/or eco-spiritual topic. Otis projects typically involve substantial off-campus research or reflection, usually accomplished during the summer or a Short Term leave.

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