Beyond Vassar

Way To Go, Vassar!

By Debbie Swartz

Vassar College: Among the Top Producers of Fulbrights

Once again, Vassar is among the national leaders in producing winners of the prestigious Fulbright fellowships. Vassar is one of only 12 schools that appeared on the lists of top producers for both Fulbright students (recent graduates, master and doctoral candidates, and young professionals) and Fulbright Scholars (faculty and experienced professionals) during the 2014–15 academic year.

Funded by Congress through the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Fulbright Fellows spend a year in one of more than 150 countries, either teaching, conducting research, or attending graduate programs. The Fulbright Program was established to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.

This year, seven recent Vassar graduates were selected as Fulbright Student Fellows; six of them accepted fellowships. Ilse Heine ’15 will be teaching at a school in Berlin. Nicholas Hoffman ’14 will pursue a master’s degree in medieval Icelandic studies at the University of Iceland. He plans to pursue a PhD in Anglo-Saxon and Norse literature. Luke Kachelein ’15 will study for a master’s degree in photonics, a subfield of physics, at the Abbe School of Photonics at Friedrich-Schiller Universität in Jena, Germany. Lorraine Kwok ’15 will study vaccination rates and other issues pertaining to women’s health and preventative-care policies in Hong Kong. Zoe Ripecky ’14 will study energy reform policies in Ukraine as the country pursues energy independence and will work with two organizations in Ukraine that are advocating alternative energy policies. Nathan Tauger ’14 will study the history of British health policy at the University of Manchester’s Center for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Manchester, England.

Kathryn Dominguez '82: Federal Reserve Board Nominee

Kathryn Dominguez '82
Kathryn Dominguez '82

This summer, President Obama announced the nomination of Kathryn M. Dominguez ’82 to a seat on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Dominguez, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan and an expert on the behavior of currency markets, will join the seven-seat board following confirmation by Congress.

In making the announcement, Obama noted that “Dr. Dominguez has the proven experience, judgment, and deep knowledge of the financial system, monetary policy, and international capital markets to serve at the Federal Reserve during this important time for our economy. She brings decades of leadership and expertise from various roles, particularly from her years as a leading economist and academic.”

Those decades of experience include more than 13 years as research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research and stints as a visiting professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California and the London School of Economics and Political Science. In addition, Dominguez taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 1987 to 1997 and in the Department of Economics at Princeton University from 1990 to 1991. 

Dominguez, who received a PhD in economics from Yale University, is intimately familiar with the workings of the Federal Reserve, having served as a dissertation scholar in the International Finance Division for its Board of Governors from 1985 to 1986. She also has been a member of the research staff of the Congressional Budget Office’s Financial Analysis Division; a member of the Academic Advisory Panels for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. In addition, she has served as research consultant for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank for International Settlements. 

John Carlstrom '80: Reaching Beyond the Stars

John Carlstrom '80
John Carlstrom '80

John E. Carlstrom ’80, a professor in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, won the 2015 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize for his pioneering work on the origins and evolution of the universe.

The prize—bestowed in August at the XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu—honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astro-physicist, or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual, or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the universe. Carlstrom will share a $250,000 prize with fellow scientist Lyman A. Page. Both were heralded for their study of the cosmic microwave background—remnants left from the universe’s beginning.

As described by the Gruber Foundation in its announcement, “When the universe was 380,000 years old, it had cooled enough for hydrogen atoms and photons to decouple and go their separate ways. That ‘flashbulb’ moment has survived as a sort of snapshot—a ‘baby picture’ of the universe—though over the past 13.7 billion years the expansion of space has stretched the light from the image all the way into the microwave end of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

Carlstrom, a 1998 MacArthur Fellow, is the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and also teaches in the physics department. He is the director of the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica.

David Ambroz '02: Fostering Change

David Ambroz '02
David Ambroz '02

Spending time in the foster care system as a teenager made a significant impact on David Ambroz ’02. Since that time, he’s been dedicated to helping youth and families who find themselves embroiled in foster care. For this work, he was recently named one of the White House’s Champions of Change, an honor recently bestowed on 12 former foster care youth who are working to better the lives of others.

A graduate of UCLA School of Law, Ambroz ’02 is the executive director of Corporate Citizenship & Social Responsibility for Disney/ABC Television Group, where he created, a multimedia effort to educate the public about the “child welfare industrial complex.” The campaign brought more than 100 collaborators—companies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations—together to help publicize success stories of some of the 400,000-plus youth in the foster care system, Ambroz says.

Its website allows anyone—anywhere in the country—to determine how to get engaged in their area, he adds.

The website raises funds for Foster Care to Success, which helps provide educational opportunities to foster youths: mentors, college scholarships, and financial assistance for textbooks and others supplies.

Over the years, Ambroz has worked with several child welfare organizations, helping to establish the National Foster Youth Advisory Council, the GLBT Foster Care Joint Initiative, and the California Child Welfare Council. While he’s thrilled to receive the Champions of Change honor, he’s also pleased to see the White House acknowledge the issue of foster care.