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ACES graduate grants allow students to complete international research

Published November 20, 2014

The Office of International Programs (OIP) is pleased to support the internationalization of graduate education. Through generous funding from donors Bill and Mary Lee Dimond and the Arlys Conrad Endowment Fund, OIP was able to issue a competitive call for proposals for graduate students in the College of ACES who needed financial support to complete research activities that required international travel. Two of these recent winners are profiled below.

Brett Barkley, a joint M.S. student in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning advised by Dr. Nicholas Brozovic, visited Jordan this past summer to learn about the country’s challenges in hosting the growing Syrian refugee population.

Barkley explained, “Before the Syrian crisis started, Jordan was already the third most water insecure nation in the world. With nearly two million additional people suddenly living within its borders, their water security is that much more vulnerable.”

During his 10-day trip, Barkley met with government agencies and visited the Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border, one of the largest refugee settlements in the world, where he saw the grave circumstances firsthand and conducted field interviews.    

Barkley learned that given the environmental constraints the two most feasible options to provide water for the refugees in the foreseeable future are either to rehabilitate current infrastructure and/or build new wells.

“Understanding how various manifestations of such decisions could impact Jordan’s water resources moving forward is the focus of my research, which I hope will contribute to better understanding of the complex challenges in water resource management and humanitarian assistance,” said Barkley.

Barkley plans to finish and defend his thesis in December 2014.

Atul Nepal, a doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics advised by Dr. Barrett Kirwan, visited Nepal in late spring 2014 to study the relationship between foreign employment and remittance among Nepalese households.

Nepal explained, “As a developing country in South Asia, bordering India and China, Nepal’s economy depends largely on remittance from abroad.”

During his trip, which was funded by a generous donation from Bill and Mary Lee Dimond, Nepal visited Pokhara, Butwal, and Bhairahawa - famous for British Gurkha Soldiers and Indian Gurkha Soldiers. “It was interesting to learn how the participation of former British and Indian troops helped improve the livelihood Nepalese families. This is primarily due to constant source of income for their services, which includes retirement benefits,” he said.

Nepal participated in the country’s annual Portfolio Performance Review, an event hosted by the Government of Nepal, where he leaned about the public programs in Nepal and had the opportunity to conduct several one-on-one meetings with various government officials.

The trip allowed him the opportunity to gather information from several perspectives.

“I also met with aspirant migrant workers who numbered in the thousands in the passport office and were in transit with me from Qatar. I was able to learn about their working environment and how they felt working abroad. I explored the feasibility of conducting an official survey on potential migrants and established contact with an independent government organization Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), a group that is actively working to reduce the poverty in Nepal that provided me with a data set they had collected, which I will use in the third chapter of my dissertation,” he said.

Nepal plans to finish his dissertation in August 2015.  


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News Writer:

Leslie Myrick, 217-244-5373