Katherine Cornell ’15 has been selected for a prestigious 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to India where a highly prized research grant will give her the opportunity to study the conservation and preservation of historic sites and structures in New Delhi.
Known for its competitive field of applicants, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. This year, Cornell is one of seven members of the Classes of 2015 – a record number for a single year at the Colleges – who have earned Fulbright awards, including Cydney Chibnall ’15, Jeanine Cryan ’15, Georgia Decker ’15, Kathryn DePietro ’15, Jordyn Dezago ’15 and Christopher Troy ’15. HWS was also recently recognized as a top producer of 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Students.
“I hope that by studying the visual heritage of New Delhi that its history will become more tangible for myself and for others,” says Cornell, an art history major with minors in Asian studies and European studies. “From my research, I will investigate how ‘heritage’ is defined by conservation companies in India and I would also like to achieve a firm understanding of how the conservation and preservation processes work.”
During her Fulbright experience, Cornell will carry out research on the conservation and preservation of historic New Delhi sites as a way to better understand motivations, goals and roles of organizations such as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Through her research, Cornell will observe on-site conservation processes, as well as the function of each organization. She will be conducting interviews with community members, visitors and individuals from each of the preservation groups.
In addition to her research, Cornell also anticipates engaging with local Indian communities, including through cultural experiences, immersion through language and community service projects. She also intends to enroll in Hindi language courses.
During her time at the Colleges, Cornell spent her entire junior year abroad thanks to the nationally lauded HWS study abroad program. In the fall she went to India and during the following semester she participated on the trip to Rome. While traveling throughout Northern India, Cornell studied Indian culture, history, language and politics, as well as gained a richer understanding of textiles in India. She also had the opportunity to travel extensively across Europe during the Rome trip.
Cornell says her Fulbright research grant is – in a way – a culmination of both her HWS abroad experiences; that is, the continued and focused study of architectural conservation of historic monuments and sites.
As Cornell gets ready for her time in India, she credits HWS for preparing her for the Fulbright experience, including mentorship from Associate Professor of Political Science Vikash Yadav and Associate Professor of Art and Architecture Michael Tinkler. Yadav and Tinkler served as faculty study abroad leaders during the India and Rome programs, respectively. They also offered guidance and support during her application process. In addition, Cornell says HWS Health Professions and Fellowships Adviser Scott MacPhail provided feedback and encouragement throughout the application process
At the Colleges, Cornell is a recipient of a GOLD Challenge Annual Fund scholarship and also has made the Dean’s list. She also is a gallery manager at the Davis Gallery at Houghton House, an archive intern with the Geneva Historical Society, a collections intern with the Rochester Museum and Science Center, a tutor with America Reads and America Counts, and has been a note taker in the Center for Teaching and Learning. She’s also president of the Art History Society and a member of the Arts and Design Collective.
Cornell says she hopes to use her background and passion for Indian culture to carry out her studies in conservation, preservation and history. In light of that work, she says she’s looking forward to returning to India as a researcher and ambassador.
“It is my goal to generate valuable information about the development of the Indian identity as India enters the global sphere and to enhance a relationship between India and the United States based on mutual interest and scholarship,” Cornell says.
As a Fulbright research grant winner, Cornell has deferred her start date for the University of Rochester joint master’s degree program in photographic preservation and collections management. She anticipates commencing her studies there in fall 2016.