Watson Fellows to Study Solar Power, Special Needs

April 19, 2013

Harvey Mudd College seniors Hannah Groshong and Dustin Zubke were two of only 40 students—from a pool of 700 candidates—to receive 2012-2013 Thomas J. Watson Fellowships. The fellowship provides a $25,000 grant to fund a year of independent study and travel abroad.

The awards mark the fourth time that HMC has had two Watson winners chosen in a single year.

Hannah Groshong '13 and Dustin Zubke '13
Hannah Groshong ’13 and Dustin Zubke ’13

“The Watson Fellowship is well aligned with our College mission,” said HMC Dean of Faculty Jeff Groves. “It’s wonderful to know that Hannah and Dustin will have the opportunity to pursue their interests and understand more fully the impact of their work on the world.”

Inspired by her younger sister, Bailey, who has Down Syndrome, Groshong will study how different societies support individuals with special needs. Her project, “A New Routine: Exploring the Transition into Adulthood for Individuals with Special Needs,” will include travel to Germany, Japan and Jordan.

“I chose those countries to ensure a diverse set of experiences. Their cultural and economic differences will add richly to the picture of special needs inclusion,” said Groshong, an engineering major. “I will also focus on the connection between disability policy and advocacy. By seeking out creative programs, engaged people and innovative policies, I will gain unique insight into how these countries include special needs individuals in meaningful ways.”

After her fellowship year, Groshong plans to study technology and policy at MIT.

Zubke will explore how to position solar power to compete successfully with fossil fuels as a key energy source. His project, “Chasing the Sun: Solar Power Across Cultures,” will take him to Germany, Spain, Australia, China and India.

“Each country’s solar industry offers a unique perspective,” said Zubke. “I want to synthesize the best practices from each into a model solar industry that I can strive to create in the market where I decide to work.”

Zubke will speak with past and present solar energy customers, along with people in industry and in government, to examine the challenges inhibiting the growth of solar power. He also aims to discover ways to meet and overcome those challenges.

The physics major hopes to draw upon the skills and experience he gained working with physics Professor Richard Haskell, director of HMC’s Center for Environmental Studies, on the research project, “Irrigating The Claremont Colleges with Reclaimed Water.” That project secured funding to do a feasibility study for a water reclamation system that may reduce The Claremont Colleges’ water consumption by 42 percent.

After his fellowship year, Zubke plans to work in the solar industry, potentially with a global firm.

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation established the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 1968. The program offers college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel outside of the United States to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness and leadership, and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.

Twenty-nine HMC students have received the award.