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Steve Hinnefeld
IU Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013

IU Bloomington 2012 graduate named Luce Scholar

March 5, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tarlise Townsend, a 2012 graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, has been named a Luce Scholar, one of 18 recipients of a nationally competitive award designed to enhance understanding of Asia for future leaders.

She is the first person to be named a Luce Scholar after receiving an undergraduate degree from Indiana University. IU is one of 75 colleges and universities eligible to make nominations for the program.

Townsend graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with highest honors, with a dual degree in neuroscience and Germanic studies. She was a Wells Scholar and a member of the Board of Aeons, conducted research in an IU neuroscience lab and studied for a year in Freiburg, Germany. She interned at the Environmental Protection Agency through the Washington Leadership Program in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She grew up in Bloomington, Ind., and graduated from Edgewood High School in Ellettsville, Ind.

Townsend, Tarlise

Tarlise Townsend

Print-Quality Photo

She is currently a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where she is studying environmental decision-making and the role of psychology in policy-making. She plans to pursue a career in global and environmental health.

As a Luce Scholar, Townsend anticipates working at a research institute or think tank that examines issues at the intersection of health, the environment and policy. She also hopes to be involved in local education, possibly as an English tutor. She is looking at placement opportunities in Southeast Asia.

"I'm deeply honored by and grateful for this opportunity," she said. "It's an awesome chance to learn from experts about public health concerns in Asia, and to gain insight into a region of growing global relevance. I have to shout out a 'thank you' to my many mentors at IU -- without their guidance and support, I would be far less prepared for the coming year's challenges."

Ben Robinson, associate professor of Germanic studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, served as Townsend's mentor for an honors thesis on inequality in the German education system, for which she received the 2011-12 Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.

"It's of course terrific news that Tarlie has been named a Luce Scholar," Robinson said. "She will bring distinction to the program, and no doubt her experiences in Asia will contribute to the development of a singularly promising young professional in the field of global environmental health.

"Not to put undue pressure on her, but I am terrifically excited to follow Tarlie's achievements in research and policy development," he said. "In the Germanic Studies Department at IU she is already a legend for the intelligence, insight and inspiration she brought to her work and shared with faculty and peers, as well as for the distinction she lent to our honors program. I can't imagine a better ambassador for the humane aspirations of U.S. environmental policy."

The Luce Scholars program, launched in 1974 by the Henry Luce Foundation, provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placements. Applicants may be college seniors, graduate students and young professionals. The program is unique in that it is intended for young leaders who have limited experience of Asia through previous schooling, work and travel.

Scholars may be placed in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. They meet for orientation in June, engage in intensive language study in Asia in July and August, and work as scholars from September until the following summer. The program is administered by the Asia Foundation.

In other Indiana University connections to the program, Ron Benioff was a Luce Scholar in Indonesia after earning a master's degree from IU and Lauren "Ming" Holden, recipient of the 2012-13 Wells Graduate Fellowship, was a Luce Scholar in Mongolia before enrolling at IU.