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UW Students Receive Prestigious Awards from Center for Global Studies

April 18, 2017
pictures of Eric Nigh, Yara Thomas and Lukas Lindquist

Three University of Wyoming students are the recipients of the most prestigious awards presented by the Center for Global Studies at UW.

Eric Nigh, from Cheyenne, a master’s degree candidate in international studies, is the 2017 David and Jade Walsh Graduate Fellowship in Global Studies recipient; Yara Thomas, from Jackson, a master’s degree candidate in architectural engineering, received the 2017 Nielson Graduate Excellence Fellowship; and Lukas Lindquist, from Fort Collins, Colo., an undergraduate in geology, and environment and natural resources, is the recipient of the 2017 Nielson Undergraduate Scholarship.

The Center for Global Studies (CGS) taps the potential of interdisciplinary, collaborative and international expertise at UW to invigorate faculty interactions, faculty-student international research, enrich teaching and to serve as a central “clearinghouse” for global academic expertise at UW.

“The CGS advances UW to the next level of excellence in internationally focused research in order to find solutions to complex global problems,” says Director Jean Garrison. “The center, with links to the social sciences, humanities and STEM fields, brings the world to Wyoming and Wyoming to the world.”

About the students and their awards:

-- Before his master’s degree candidacy at UW, Nigh spent more than 12 years working in USAID development programs in Iraq and speaks fluent Iraqi Arabic. His research examines the complicating factors behind the United States’ attempt to bring development and democracy to post-conflict Iraq. In his research, Nigh cites an Office of Inspector General’s Office of Inspections March 2016 report that nearly one-third of Iraqis believe that the United States is supporting terrorism and ISIL.

U.S. foreign policy decisions concerning Iraq are based on certain priorities that are important to American policymakers and broad-based constituencies, Nigh says. Through his interviews in Iraq during summer 2016, he learned Iraqi perspectives on what is needed to achieve stability in Iraq. Nigh hopes that the results of his research will help better inform U.S. policymakers and encourage developments in U.S. foreign policy orientation that will ultimately contribute to greater stability in the Middle East.

-- Thomas’ research project focuses on greenhouse design and the potential for agricultural sustainability. As global food demand is projected to double in the next 50 years, greenhouse agricultural operations are a viable option for food production, yielding 20-30 times more produce per acre than field production, while having the potential to satisfy much of the growing agricultural demand, she says. Greenhouses also are more energy-intensive then open field production. Her research explores options to increase the efficiency of greenhouse production, which will increase the viability of this method of production.

“They have the potential to reduce water consumption, limit the use of pesticides, cut down on transportation emissions and provide greater food security,” she adds.

Her study uses examples from the Netherlands as well as building simulation and life cycle analysis software to determine the total environmental benefit of an innovative greenhouse vs. open-field production. Thomas’ research is one of the first studies that compares the total energy requirement of open-field agriculture vs. an efficient greenhouse. In her research work, Thomas is looking at how the waste heat from the Lovell sugar beet factory may be used to build a greenhouse.

-- The Nielson scholarship funds will allow Lindquist to continue conducting research on groundwater recharge rates in sagebrush dominated drylands across Wyoming. The goal of his project is to understand how groundwater recharge (GWR) will change in magnitude and seasonality in multiple sites across the state in the future.

Lindquist used a combination of fieldwork and simulation modeling to explore key climatic and ecohydrological drivers of GWR. Groundwater is of global concern, and he hopes his project finds that parallels can be made across spatial and temporal gradients applicable to other dryland regions.

He says receiving the Nielson undergraduate scholarship allows him to continue pursuing research focusing on the water balance in dryland ecosystems across the American West and around the globe. After graduating from UW in May 2018, Lindquist plans to pursue graduate work in hydrology.

About the awards:

The David and Jade Walsh Graduate Fellowship in Global Studies supports one $10,000 graduate fellowship for a student completing a thesis or dissertation project focused on internationally oriented topics related to energy security and/or international security with consideration for projects also focusing on international aspects of environment and natural resources/development.

The Center for Global Studies-School of Energy Resources Nielson Awards support one $10,000 graduate fellowship and one $5,000 undergraduate scholarship for students whose coursework, research and career goals focus development of the human resources and the “know-how” required to solve critical energy and natural resource challenges faced by society.

The Nielson Graduate Excellence Fellowship and Nielson Undergraduate Scholarship represent a partnership between the Center for Global Studies and the UW School of Energy Resources to promote interdisciplinary academic and research programs in a broad range of disciplines across UW.

For more information, call Garrison at (307) 766-6119, email, or visit the Center for Global Studies website at

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