You are here

The Michael J. Harum Memorial Prize for Students of Slavic Languages


Barbara Kornak (Agriculture and Life Sciences)

Title: "Działki: Exploring a Shifting Landscape"

Abstract: Barbara intends to examine the social, political, economic, and cultural pressures that influence Poland’s działki — their presence, their disappearance, their shift in function, and their prospects in a modern world. She plans on examining these topics by visiting Poland and learning from its community members and the land they occupy. She will conduct interviews, surveys, and field research in community gardens in rural/suburban and urban settings. She hopes to highlight the freedom and benefits community gardens provide, while charting their trends and fluctuations to hypothesize their prospects in a modern world.

Alex Mocarski (Human Ecology)

Title: "Sustainable Water Management and Fish Hatcheries in Poland"

Abstract: Water is a crucial part to life for plants, animals, and people - and a proper understanding of this hydro logic cycle allows us to understand and solve water issues. The drinkable water in the world today makes up "less than 1% of the earth's freshwater," making it a very finite source. Moreover, with "the frightening rise in the water pollution in the past few decades", this is becoming a growing environmental issue in today's world more than ever before. Specifically, in Poland, being one of the heaviest coal burning countries in the world, the thick yellow smog air dissolves into the water - leading to many issues in the water such as algal blooms, acidity, and simply more contaminated waters. Alex's research will allow him to deepen his knowledge and experience in sustainable water management and fish hatcheries in Poland.


Previous years



Emily Sullivan (International Agriculture and Rural Development) was awarded the Michael J. Harum Memorial Award for her proposal entitled “Development and Communication: The Individual Connection to Place in the Village of Roshka.” With the aid of this fellowship, Sullivan will be able to conduct on-site research in the rural village of Roshka in the Caucus Mountains of Georgia over the summer of 2018, in the hopes of contributing to a better understanding of the value of communication, identity, and community-based development in this Georgian village. Her project will culminate in a participatory research approach called ‘photovoice,’ a documentary-style essay film.


Lydia Holley

Lydia Holley (Mathematics) was awarded the Frederic Conger Wood Summer Research Fellowship for her proposed work entitled “Discovering Mathematics Education in Poland and Language Acquisition Project.” She hopes that this research will help her explore the question of if European countries – in this case, specifically Poland - teach math in secondary school in a more theoretical tan computational way. Lydia will be able to spend her summer in Poland and plans to conduct research on how prospective math teachers are educated and exploring the government guidelines for secondary school education. 

Barbara Sudol

Barbara Sudol was awarded the Michael J. Harum Memorial Prize for her work entitled “The effect of joining the European Union through the lens of Poland and the Euro”. She hopes to find the connection between Poland not switching its currency to the Euro and its recent economic growth. She plans to answer her thesis by looking into Positive Economics, the general population’s thoughts with a focus on Normative Economics. She will conduct her research by travelling to Warsaw, Poland and conducting interviews with economics professors as well as members of Poland’s National Bank, the European Union and Polish newspapers.

Elizabeth Kelley

Elizabeth Kelley was awarded the Michael J. Harum Memorial Prize for her work entitled “Religion and the State form the Soviet Union Today”. She plans to study the evolution of Russian religio-political relations from the 1917 revolution to today. She will begin with historical research regarding the emergence of universal atheism in the Soviet Union before moving on to a more modern study of the regrowth of religion visible in Russia today. She will travel to and research religious sites including St. Isaac’s cathedral as well as conduct a series of interviews with local religious leaders, professors, and leaders of restoration efforts.

Pauline Shongov

Pauline Shongov was awarded the Michael J. Harum Memorial Prize for her work entitled “A Visual Palimpsest: The Study of Bulgarian Literature and a Bridging of the Diaspora and Elderly through Documentary Film.” She hopes not only to learn, analyze, document, and better her Bulgarian, but also explore what it means to be bilingual; what it means for language to expand beyond the boundaries of its linguistic construct and exist as a gesture that yields to the artistic process, a communication that is abstracted from specified and implied structure, and through this process study what is lost in sensorial translation and the meaning of that omission. With the help of this award, Pauline will be able to spend 4 to 6 weeks for a summer program on Bulgarian literature/film in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

Yana Kost

Yana Kost was awarded the Michael J. Harum Memorial Award for her work entitled, “An Immersion in Russian Language, Culture & Western Medicine”. She will have the opportunity to, through interaction with locals and local professionals, improve her Russian language skills and to directly assist in provider-patient care and patient education concerning community health topics. These experiences will also allow Yana to learn about Russia’s practices, culture and history and helping to make a direct impact in the lives of many. With the help of this award, Yana will be able to spend a month in Moscow with the International Medical Relief organization. 

Madeleine Traverse

Madeleine Traverse was awarded the Michael J. Harum Memorial Award to participate in a study abroad program to enrich her knowledge of the Russian culture and improve her Russian language skills. With the help of this award, Madeleine will be able to spend twelve weeks in St. Petersburg taking intense language courses and participating in excursions to further her appreciation of Russian culture. 

Cait O'Neil

Cait O'Neil (Government) was awarded Michael J. Harum Memorial Award. She plans to spend two months in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She will be focusing on increasing her fluency of the Russian language, and will also be interning with a Non-Governmental Organization. She is also minoring in Business, Russian, and Law in Society. She believes that this experience will, in her own words, “…result in incredible learning experiences and a fantastic understanding of a city that most never even know exists.”

Hannah Sawyer

Hannah Sawyer (Government) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award to attend Brown University's Russian Language & Culture Summer 2013 program in St. She intends to engage in about 25 hours of language studying per week, while also making time to connect with her host family. After this experience, Hannah intends to continue studying Russian at Cornell and continue working toward fluency. 

Tim Oldeman

Tim Oldeman (Philosophy) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award to attend Smolny College in St. Petersburg. He was excited to get a rich and genuine experience from his time in Russia and was overjoyed that he was able to adapt to and fully immerse himself in Russian culture.

Jake Burton

Jake Burton (Comparative Literature) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award to attend the Bard-Smolny program at St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg. He is researching the development of the Russian symbolist movement, the contrasts between Symbolism and Acmeism, and the differences between the first and second waves of Russian symbolism.


Venus Wu (Economics) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award to study Russian at the Bard-Smolny program at St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg. She was able to immerse herself in Russian literature, art and media and interact daily with Russian university students. As an international Chinese student, Venus was also able to learn more about China from the Russian perspective. Overall, Venus believes that her experience was invaluable and contributed significantly to her understanding of the "Russian soul". 

Cecilia deLencquesaing

Cecilia deLencquesaing (College Scholar) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award Prize to study Russian at the CIEE Study Center at St. Petersburg State University. Focusing on nineteenth century literature, she learned that Russia was an important place for intellectual creativity, especially in St. Petersburg. Excited to improve her language skills, Cecilia is also looking forward to a comparative understanding of Russia, France and the United States.

Hope Rainbow

Hope Rainbow (History of Art) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award to attend the Bard-Smolny in St. Petersburg to pursue her study of Russian art from medieval religious iconography to 20th and 21st century political, subversive and avant-garde art. She was able to give important presentations, volunteer for an avant-garde art collective and began a research project examining contemporary Russian art and artistic identity.

Megan Ausen

Megan Ausen (ILR) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award Prize to study at St. Petersburg State University. After returning from studying abroad, her life goals changed completely. She decided to pursue graduate studies focusing on Central Asia, the Ukraine and Russia. Megan’s most formative experience of her undergraduate career was studying in St. Petersburg and she is grateful for being awarded the prize. 

Jennifer Neubauer

Jennifer Neubauer (Russian Language and Literature) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award Prize to study at Bard-Smolny College in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She enrolled in Russian language courses and was excited to live in St. Petersburg getting a fully immersed experience. Although Jennifer was undecided before leaving for Russia, upon returning she was sure that she wanted to continue her study of the Russian language and literature. This experience, Jennifer says, truly changed her life. 

Alexandra Wiktorek

Alexandra Wiktorek (Russian) was awarded a Michael J. Harum Memorial Award Prize for a semester of study in Moscow. Upon the program’s semester completion, she enjoyed her experience so much so that she stayed on for the summer session. This experience invigorated her passion for learning Russian, which she majored in, and her doctoral work focused on the post-communist region. Alexandra hopes that the prize will continue to enable future students to pursue their goals and have an unforgettable experience.

Larissa Paschyns

Larissa Paschyn (Russian) was the first Michael J. Harum Prize recipient and the first Cornell student to study abroad in Russia. She was able to witness firsthand Russia-Eastern Europe-US relations and found her calling in international development and defense management. Her future has forever been shaped by her first trip to Russia and Larissa says that without it, she doesn’t know where her life would be today.