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February 26, 2015

UO Environmental Studies Students to Premier a Short Film on Pesticide Drift

“I feel inside that something is going to have to change, that something is changing,” says Beau Hansen, resident of Gold Beach, Oregon, in a film to be premiered at this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon.

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James and Pamela Aldridge share their story as Lisa Arkin looks on.

On Saturday, March 7, from 2:15-3:30 p.m., residents of Cedar Valley, Oregon will join Lisa Arkin, Director of Eugene nonprofit Beyond Toxics, and University of Oregon Environmental Studies students to premier a short film about pesticide drift in a panel entitled “Just Stories: Communicating Environmental Justice.” The panel will be held in the Erb Memorial Union Oak room at the University of Oregon.

In October 2013, a helicopter spraying pesticides on private timberlands made multiple trips over a stretch of homes in Cedar Valley. Aerial spray fell on many residents directly as well as on several tributaries of the Rogue River and lands abutting the local school. In the days following, residents began reporting negative health effects. Over 45 people have come forward.

To create the film, Environmental Studies students traveled to Cedar Valley with Arkin to interview residents about their experiences and their vision for change. The film documents the aerial spray incident as well as the community’s efforts to organize locally and call for statewide community health protections.

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Lily and Ada Hansen sit beside Sandy Clinton.

To prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, residents are calling on the state government to require buffer zones for aerial pesticide spray.

“We’re not against timber. We’re against poison,” said Cedar Valley resident, Kathryn Rickard.

Currently there are no buffer zones around homes or schools, and Oregon has significantly smaller stream buffers than other states in the Pacific Northwest.

The efforts of Cedar Valley residents to speak out about this incident helped launch bill SB 613, which was introduced to the Oregon Senate in early February. If passed, SB 613 will improve advance notification of sprays, establish protected areas where pesticide application is prohibited, and empower the Oregon Health Authority to issue penalties in the case of human exposure.

Panelists will answer questions about Cedar Valley’s ongoing organizing efforts, opportunities for participation and the collaborative process of creating the film.

If you have questions, please email aylieb [at] or tchen6 [at]

February 18, 2015

ENVS Alum Launches Kickstarter in Partnership with Himalayan Farmers

Started by ENVS alum Raj Vable, the Eugene tea company Young Mountain Tea is a tea company with a social mission. Currently they are working with Himalayan farmers to grow new Indian tea ad are seeing $24,000 through crowdfunding to build the new sustainable tea region.YMT - Pour

Young Mountain Tea, based in Eugene, Oregon, is partnering with farmers in the Indian Himalayas to grow the first tea that will lay the foundation for a new tea region. The partnership is turning to Kickstarter, the popular online crowdfunding platform, to raise the funds to create this tea.
The 30-day, $24,000 fundraising campaign starts February 17, 2015.
The project was inspired by Young Mountain Tea Founder Raj Vable’s experience working in the remote Kumaon region in the foothills of the Himalayas. As a graduate student at the University of Oregon, he started working with a Himalayan non-profit named Avani that creates rural livelihoods.

In 2013, he returned to the region on a Fulbright Fellowship and struck a deal with Avani – if they would grow tea, he would buy it. Later that year he returned to India - Makaibari 2the United States, teamed up with friends also involved in social entrepreneurship and formed Young Mountain Tea.

“We named our company after the rising Himalayas, a mountain range that is still going up as the Indian subcontinent slams into Asia,” Vable noted.
After planting their first acre of tea saplings last year, this project will raise the funds to harvest, process and deliver the first tea. They are processing it as a white tea called white peony, traditionally known as Bai Mudan.
Backers of the projects will:

  • Be the first to drink a new white tea hand made in small batches, using traditional techniques and the highest quality leaves.India - Avani & Raj
  • Create dignified rural livelihoods for remote mountain communities in the Kumaon region of the Indian Himalayas.
  • Increase the resilience of mountain ecosystems by supporting organic permaculture that intercrops tea with other mountainous crops to restore biodiversity, strengthen native soils, and prevent landslides.

Backer rewards range from a $15 pouch of this new tea to a $2,500 authentic Indian Tea Pilgrimage, including spending time in the new tea region with Vable and the team.

To learn more, check out the Young Mountain Tea website.

February 9, 2015

UO Environmental Justice Students Make the Front Page

students-cedar-valley-webUniversity of Oregon students in an Environmental Justice course and the “Just Stories” 411 were recently featured on the front page of the Curry Coastal Pilot. The students visited the Curry County community of Cedar Valley to hear and document their stories about an herbicide spray that encroached on residential areas in October 2013.The students are producing a film documentary of the event to raise awareness that will be presented at the 2015 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference on March 5-8th at the UO School of Law.

Read the full article here.

February 2, 2015

Nicolae Morar joins Environmental Studies Faculty

The Environmental Studies Program welcomes Nicolae Morar to a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies beginning in Fall 2015.

Nicolae-Morar-PhD-Sept-2012-003_2-1tjq3gzProfessor Morar specializes in bioethics (especially biomedical, genethics, environmental, and research ethics), philosophy of biology and ecology, and recent continental philosophy. His other interests include ethical theory, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of sexuality.

Morar earned his PhD from Purdue University in 2011 and has subsequently been a Visiting Scholar at The Hastings Center and a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Rock Ethics Institute at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE). Currently, Morar is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Biology and an Associate Member with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon.

Morar is the editor, with Jonathan Beever, of Perspectives in Bioethics, Science, and Public Policy(Purdue University Press, 2013); and, with Thomas Nail and Dan Smith, of a Foucault Studies Special Issue on Foucault and Deleuze (2014). Forthcoming publications include Biopower: Michel Foucault and Beyond, edited with Vernon Cisney (University of Chicago Press, 2015); Between Foucault and Derrida, edited with Vernon Cisney and Yubraj Aryal (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), and Pierre Klossowski, Living Currency, translated with Vernon Cisney and Daniel W. Smith (Bloomsbury Press, 2015).

Morar is currently completing a monograph titled Biology, BioEthics, and BioPolitics: How To Think Differently About Human Nature. To learn more about Morar, visit his website at 

January 23, 2015

UO Environmental Philosophy Program Featured in the High Country News

In a review of the West’s top Environmental Philosophy programs, High Country News recently featured the University of Oregon’s Environmental Studies Program as “one of the strongest interdisciplinary environmental studies programs in the nation.”

Read the full article here.

December 2, 2014

Sarah Wald receives New Junior Faculty Research Award

We are pleased to announce that the Office for Research and Innovation has awarded Sarah Wald a New Junior Faculty Research Award. New Junior Faculty Research Awards are designated to support a new faculty member’s research program as they begin their appointment here at the UO. Dr. Wald joined the University of Oregon this year as the first joint hire between the Environmental Studies Program and the department of English.

To read more about Dr. Wald and her research interests, please click here.

Featured Student: Adrian Robins

adrianMany students entering the University of Oregon think of Environmental Studies as a potential major from the day they arrive, but Adrian Robins was not one of them. He initially planned on studying psychology, so when he and a friend signed up for an introduction to environmental humanities, it was as a freshman year elective. “I wasn’t expecting what happened,” Adrian remarks. “I had taken a class in environmental science in high school, but reading people like Emerson and Leopold in ENVS 203, and learning about [organizations dedicated to food sovereignty], something about that woke me up and made me want to do more with my life.”

Adrian has since taken the opportunity to not only continue his classroom studies in the field of environmental studies, but to actually visit the field. He travelled to India for a study abroad program, where he learned from subsistence farmers. “I hadn’t really thought about alternate ways of dealing with food before because I’d never had the chance to see subsistence (plus it’s easy to ignore when you go to the supermarket for everything), but there are communities where the crop is everything, and control of that crop is critical.” This perspective has led him to a devoted interest in food sovereignty and the fight to protect it—including some time after his study abroad program with Navdanya, one of the organizations he first heard of in ENVS 203.

Food sovereignty and the importance of crop diversity has also followed Adrian into his thesis work. He is now a senior, graduating in June, and is in the process of gathering information about local seed saving networks. He is interested in the hows and whys that influence which seeds farmers choose to save. A number of crop varieties, he explains “are extinct or going extinct, and it’s a form of biodiversity that I think people don’t really pay attention to. But we’re heading to big changes environmentally, and the only way to ensure that we have food in the future is to have a diverse number of crops that can potentially survive.” Although Adrian initially planned for an environmental studies major, this focus on the applications of ecology to agriculture has led him to pursue a major in environmental science, with a minor in biology.

Many students have a similarly windy path through their college experience, and Adrian enjoys helping them out: he works currently as an Ecopeer, a position he has held for a year an a half, where he has the chance to advise undergraduate peers about the Environmental Studies Program. “It’s a pretty complicate major because we’re so interdisciplinary and it’s a big program, but I think my brain just works well with scheduling and organizing. Plus, I’ve liked my work because I’ve made a lot of connections to my peers in ENVS.”

Now that his undergraduate schedule is mostly set, what is Adrian planning for his own future? It’s a bit early to decide, but he’s considering agriculture-oriented positions with the Peace Corps or—perhaps—applying for a Fulbright scholarship to go back to India. Stop by the main ENVS office to chat and learn more!

Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.

December 1, 2014

Featured Alumnus: Ezra Markowitz

Ezra Markowitz, who graduated from the University of Oregon with a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, Studies & Policy, joined the faculty of UMass Amherst this fall as an Assistant Professor, and is completing his first course, entitled “Environmental Decision-Making.”

Dr. Markowitz has always been interested in both psychology and environmental issues, although it wasn’t always clear how to merge them. He entered his undergraduate studies at Vassar College knowing that he wanted to major in psychology, and quickly became active within the school’s student environmental group. However, Markowitz explains that “they didn’t immediately seem to mesh. It wasn’t until my third year that my advisor in psychology told me ‘you know, you can combine those two interests of yours.’”

By the time he began looking for graduate schools he knew he wanted to study sustainability and decision-making, but “it wasn’t really clear how to do that in graduate school because there weren’t many programs available on the East coast. It ends up that the University of Oregon had what I was looking for, so it won out.” In Markowitz’s mind, Environmental Studies’ resources worked well with his professional goals because he was focused in his interests: “I get a lot of prospective graduate students looking at the program, and what I tell them is that it’s a really great place for people who have a good sense of what they want to study. Which is not everybody. But for me, the U of O gave me that support to explore and figure out on my own what had already been done in this new field, and what needed to be done.”

This interdisciplinary training, in which Markowitz drew from multiple departments to round out his education, also prepared him for his experiences after graduating. After defending his dissertation, he spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate with Princeton University’s Research Community on Communicating Uncertainty, where he worked with a group of political scientists, climate scientists, philosophers, and economists on the question of how to communicate scientific uncertainty regarding environmental change problems, both to policy-makers and the public. “It was a perfect extension of being at the U of O, he recounts, “because it was an incredible multi-disciplinary group. We certainly had challenges in terms of how to all talk and work together, but it was exciting. I spent the year running studies and finding that contrary to popular belief, you can actually increase people’s trust in climate scientists and in science more generally by being more open about the uncertainties that exist.”

Markowitz did get the chance to study among peers, though, when in 2013 he was invited to the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. “For the first time in my life I was around people who do pretty much what I do. Everybody was a behavioral scientist doing environmental stuff, which was cool.” The group does much of its work on individuals’ decision-making under uncertainty, so “it was a nice flow from my work at Princeton.”

His position at Columbia University could have lasted for three years, but Markowitz was browsing faculty job postings and noticed one advertised by UMass Amherst “for something like human decision-making in environmental conservation. So I figured it was a pretty good fit.” It was: after a lengthy interview process, Markowitz found himself with a tenure-track position in a location that he is excited to explore. “I hadn’t applied to many jobs,” he admits, “but this seemed right for me. It’s in a place that reminds me a lot of the Willamette Valley in terms of politics and the physical layout of the valley around the river, with little mountains all around. I really did enjoy my time in Oregon.”

At UMass, Markowitz expects to keep his steady focus on how to blend research with practical application. Not only will he continue to offer consulting to policy groups outside of academia, he remains dedicated to investigations that support smart activism. “I don’t necessarily have the tools to put my findings into practice, but my goal is always for the research that I’m doing to be both practical and applicable. I want to help inform the work that’s happening on the ground.”

Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.

November 12, 2014

Ecotone 2015 Call For Submissions

Ecotone 2015 PosterThe Ecotone: The Journal of Environmental Studies at University of Oregon is soliciting submissions for our 2015 issue. The Ecotone is the annual interdisciplinary journal produced by the graduate students of Environmental Studies. (To view the 2014 issue, click here!)

Graduate students and faculty in any department are invited to submit work for review. Submissions may include academic work, creative writing, journalism, visual art, book and film reviews, and interviews.

The deadline for all submissions has been extended to 5:00 pm on Saturday, January 31st, 2014. Email questions and submissions to Katrina Maggiulli at

November 3, 2014

ESCI seniors win award for ELP presentation

ELP at SERESCI seniors Kathryn Alexander and Kathy Fioretti recently presented their Environmental Leadership Program project at a regional conference held by the Society for Ecological Restoration. We’re also pleased to add that their poster won an award by popular vote for best student poster!

October 28, 2014

ELP Featured in Clearing Magazine

ClearingMagClearingMagClearingMag copyAn article about ELP’s 2013 environmental education projects has recently been published by Clearing, the Pacific Northwest Journal of Community-based Environmental Literacy Education. Not only does the article offer a summary of each project, but features collaborative writing by the undergraduate students who participated.

Where does your drinking water come from? This central question drove the trajectory of several of last year’s Environmental Leadership Project programs, which focused on helping students develop a connection to the sole source of their drinking water, the McKenzie River. “The two main goals of the new EE effort,” writes ELP Co-Director Katie Lynch, “were to: 1) create a year-long program for UO students interested in EE careers (that would provide them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to develop and implement place-based, experiential programs) and 2) develop age-appropriate, engaging MyMcKenzie curricula for local youth, grades 1-8, that promotes the stewardship of the McKenzie River.”

One EE project, Critters and Currents, strove to give elementary school students a sense of connection and kinship with the McKenzie River watershed, while another, Canopy Connections, helped students climb 90 feet into a Douglas fir.

To read more, please visit Clearing here.

October 12, 2014

Theresa May interviewed on KHSU Radio’s Econews

KHSU Radio’s Econews recently aired an interview with ENVS Affiliate Faculty Theresa May about her powerful new book Salmon Is Everything: Community-Based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed. A new resource for educators teaching environmental education, Native studies, the humanities and performing arts, it tells how theatre artists worked with tribal communities to create documentary theatre about the salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest. After a devastating fish kill on the Klamath River, tribal members and theatre artist Theresa May developed a play to give voice to the central spiritual and cultural role of salmon in tribal life. The book contains the complete script of “Salmon Is Everything” with production information, as well as insightful essays about arts and activism, the role of salmon in Native culture.  This interdisciplinary book bridges knowledge in science, social studies, and theatre arts by showing students how the arts can help us understand diverse cultures and care for our environment.

To listen to the interview, click here. Dr. May’s interview begins roughly 3/4 of the way through the program.

October 10, 2014

ENVS student Shahnaz Mooney featured in Cascade Magazine

Recent University of Oregon graduate Shahnaz Mooney is featured in this fall’s issue of Cascade, the magazine of the UO college of arts and sciences. Not only did she complete double majors in environmental studies and philosophy, but her thesis, which explores the ethics of feeding antibiotics to animals in industrial farming, was awarded the college’s interdisciplinary thesis award. She has always been fascinated by epidemics, which drove the subject of her research: she notes that “80 percent of (US) meat randomly tested . . . shows traces of antibiotic-resistant bacteria” like salmonella and E. coli. The threat to public health is very real, she argues, and her work offers suggestions for preventing a global epidemic.

To read more about Shahnaz Mooney, her research, and experience at the University of Oregon, please visit Cascade‘s website here.

River Stories 2014 at the Lane County Historical Museum

RiverStoriesSmilesIn January of 2014, the Environmental Leadership Program’s River Stories Team asked itself two questions: “what if we could listen to our water source?” and “what would the McKenzie River tell us?” What followed was an intensive process involving 30 interviews with McKenzie River community members, multimedia products drawing on text, photography, audio, and film, and four major community events where the students showcased their work.

The McKenzie River cascades 90 miles from its headwaters at Clear Lake to its convergence with the Willamette River in Eugene; its cold, clear waters are home to McKenzie Red Sides, endangered Chinook Salmon, and countless other species. Together with community partners including the Lane County Historical Museum, McKenzie River Trust, and the McKenzie River Drift Boat Museum, students operated under the conviction that storytelling matters, and that stories about the McKenzie can help preserve its unique heritage, promote stewardship, and draw residents from the greater Eugene area into a closer and more communicative relationship with their only water source.

An ongoing exhibit at the Lane County Historical Museum, scheduled to run until January 2015, is currently serving as the team’s capstone collaboration. “McKenzie River Stories” showcases the work of the team by featuring stories of the original McKenzie River drift boat builders, stories and audio clips from current residents, vivid river photographs and video footage, and a white water boat made by Woodie Hindman for Prince Helfrich. The team describes the many voices featured as similar to “one of the many springs and streams that converge in the McKenzie River; before we can hear the ripples echo, we must first step in.” In the exhibit, the River Stories team encourages visitors to think about their own connection to the McKenzie and how to sustain a conversation with their water source.

RiverStoriesExhibitSupporting the main exhibit, the team has also installed “River Stories” around town at water fountains and other locations where people interact with the McKenzie. These posters feature photography and quotes about the river and further the team’s goal of promoting awareness, connection, and stewardship of the McKenzie River. To hear these stories and for more information, please click here.

The River Stories Team has also emerged from their experience with a new respect for how difficult some stories can be to access. “Countless unheard voices along the McKenzie River,” they write, “resound in the shadows of the stories that rise to the surface. Many historical and social factors combine to create these silences, but if considered thoughtfully, they can be as transformative and as revealing as the oral histories we do hear . . . For instance, the indigenous names for the river have been dislocated, replaced by the name of a passing fur trader. Our team acknowledges that we have only skimmed the surface of the depth of stories that exists at the intersection of people and place along the McKenzie River.”

What is your McKenzie River story? What if you could listen to your water source? Stop by the Lane County Historical Museum for a chance to explore with the students of UO’s Environmental Leadership Program.

ELP is currently recruiting students for winter and spring of 2015. Click here for more information.

September 28, 2014

Kathy Lynn helps issue guidelines with Climate and Traditional Knowledges Working Group

ENVS Core Faculty Kathy Lynn has coordinated the development of the Climate and Traditional Knowledges Working Group, and served as a contributing author to the Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives.

The Third National Climate Assessment issued in May 2014 contained a chapter dedicated to the impact of climate change on tribal peoples. In light of the increasing recognition of the significance of traditional knowledges (TKs) in relation to climate change, a self-organized, informal group of indigenous persons, staff of indigenous governments and organizations, and experts with experience working with issues concerning traditional knowledges (The Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup – CTKW), felt compelled to develop a framework to increase understanding of issues relating to access and protection of TKs in climate initiatives and interactions between holders of TKs and non-tribal partners.

The Guidelines were originally developed to inform the Department of Interior’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS) in May 2014. An annotated bibliography is also provided for reference and further information. These Guidelines are not intended to promote the exchange of Traditional Knowledges. Rather, they are to increase understanding of the role of and protections for TKs in climate initiatives, provide provisional guidance to those engaging in efforts that encompass TKs and increase mutually beneficial and ethical interactions between tribes and non-tribal partners. The Guidelines are a work in progress and intended to spur active deliberation and discussion for further development.  For more information and a question/comment form, visit:

August 22, 2014

Scott Bridgham featured in The Oregonian

ENVS core faculty Scott Bridgham has recently been featured in The Oregonian. The article discusses research he and his team are conducting which investigates the impact that climate change will likely have on the Northwest’s native prairie plants. The study involves three sites spanning the coasts of Oregon and Washington; predictions “suggest that the Washington plot’s site will become more like Southern Oregon and that Southern Oregon will be more like California come the turn of the century.” How will native plants cope with these changing conditions? Dr. Bridgham is using infrared lamps and irrigation to simulate the future, and his results may well offer a glimpse into what we can expect from the next 100 years.

To read the full article, please click here.

August 20, 2014

Trudy Ann Cameron awarded “Best JEEM Paper” of 2014

We are delighted to announce that a paper co-authored by ENVS core faculty Trudy Ann Cameron has been awarded “Best JEEM Paper” of 2014 by the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. The Journal of Environmental Economics and Management is widely considered the best field journal of its field, so this award is quite the honor!

Cameron’s paper, co-authored by J.R. DeShazo of UCLA, is entitled “Demand for health risk reductions.” It presents a new model for measuring individuals’ willingness to pay for health risk reduction measures (for example: expenditures on medical research or environmental regulation). “Understanding the value people place on health risk reductions,” the authors write, “can help us decide upon appropriate levels of regulations for road, workplace, and household safety, or how much we should spend on publicly supported health care.” They argue that their model can help gauge that value by providing one estimate for subjects’ response to varied illness risks, rather than forcing researchers to focus on a single risk of death at a time.

A complete copy of “Demand for health risk reductions” can be found here.

July 31, 2014

Wen Lee and Chris Stratton celebrate wedding on Amtrak

ENVS alumni Wen Lee and Chris Stratton are getting married, and they’re doing it in an unusual way: by train. The couple is no stranger to the rails, having travelled 60,000 miles over the past five years, and as they began planning their wedding and honeymoon, they decided to combine the two in an epic cross-country train trip. Instead of asking relatives to travel for them, they are doing it the other way around. Over 30 days, they are holding four receptions in four far-flung locations: Lawrenceburg, KY, Boston, MA, Los Angeles, CA, and Oakland, CA. The journey has not only saved on airfare and carbon emissions, but has allowed them to include relatives who would otherwise not be able to attend a reception in California, including Chris’ 90 year old grandfather and 96 year old grandmother.

Wen and Chris’ adventure is currently being featured on Amtrak’s blog, which you can access here. Reading through their interviews, it’s clear that the train is more than their means of getting from place to place, but an experience in its own right. They enjoy being “unplugged” while they travel, and between games of backgammon and conversations with fellow travelers, they have been enjoying spectacular views of the Sierras, the Rockies, the plains, and the Appalachians cruise past their window.

To read more about Wen and Chris’ wedding exploits, visit Amtrak’s first and second interviews with them. Stay tuned for updates as they continue the journey!

July 10, 2014

ReNews 2014 is here!

ReNewsCover1ReNews, the newsletter of the Environmental Studies Program, was established in 2013 when faculty, staff, and graduate students decided to separate out the two main functions of the program’s journal, The Ecotone: that of a journal and that of a newsletter. While initially a short bulletin, The Ecotone has matured into a journal that serves as a space for interdisciplinary academic dialogue and creative expression. ReNews was created to provide an annual report to alumni, donors, prospective students, and general supporters and friends about the Environmental Studies Program, people, and accomplishments.

To view ReNews, please click here for an easy-to-read online magazine format.

June 16, 2014

Sierra Deutsch receives Sylff Fellowship

ENVS doctoral student Sierra Deutsch has been selected to receive a Graduate Fellowship for International Research through and endowment to the Oregon University System by the Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff). Sylff Fellows demonstrate a sustained commitment to international concerns and pursuits, exemplify broad vision as well as a focus on a specific issue, and exhibit leadership in collaborating with others in cross-cultural contexts. The fellowship of $12,000 is given for one academic year of full-time pursuit of a graduate degree in an Oregon University System institution. Dependent upon the individual fellow’s status within the graduate program, fellowship monies may be applied to tuition and fees, living expenses, research costs and travel associated with the conduct of research, and other expenses related to graduate study.

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