Seniors Kevin Rowe and Max Wall Awarded Prestigious Watson Fellowships

Hamilton seniors Kevin Rowe and Max Wall have been awarded prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for 2010-11. Rowe’s project is titled “Farm to Table: New World Cities and the Changing Landscape of Cuisine” and Wall’s is “Preserving Cultures: Exploring Fermented Foodways.” The two were among only 40 national winners of the Fellowships. This year, 150 finalists competed on the national level, after their institutions nominated them in the autumn. Each fellow receives $25,000 for a year of travel and exploration outside the U.S. 

In his proposal Rowe wrote “More than ingredients and methods of preparation, a cuisine is a body of wisdom for maintaining an enriching harmony with fellow inhabitants and with nature. Every traditional dish tells a story about a human food chain that progresses from farm, to market, kitchen, and table—and, more importantly, about all the human relationships and interactions with nature along the way.” He will follow this food chain for one traditional dish in each of five cities, learning how new technology and systems are altering the ways we eat and ways we live together in and around cities. Rowe hopes to explore all of the processes along the food chain that bring a traditional dish to the table. He will travel to Cyprus, India, China, Nicaragua and Chile. 

Wall describes his proposed project as this: “Traditional methods of fermentation are important nutritionally and culturally. By working alongside people who ferment using traditional techniques, I will explore why people ferment their food and how communities create, negotiate, and sustain cultural identity through fermentation.” Wall plans to investigate what motivates people to employ techniques that rely more on industrial and technological systems. He hopes to gain a clearer understanding of the consequences produced by our choice of fermentation techniques. 

Wall will travel to Ghana, India, France, countries with diverse cultural traditions surrounding fermented foods. He hopes to understand how and why people in different communities around the world decide to incorporate new technologies into their traditional fermentation practices, and consequently, how that choice is affecting their lives. 

A Dean’s List student, Rowe is a government major at Hamilton, and a graduate of East Grand Rapids High School. At Hamilton, Rowe was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in March. In 2009 he studied abroad at Oxford University in the UK. Rowe was a 2009 Levitt Center Research Fellow, selected to carry out a 10-week fully-funded independent research project with a Hamilton faculty member. He was the recipient of the Class of 1979 Travel Award; is a member of Pentagon Honor Society; is a Writing Center tutor; a member of Democracy Matters, of Hamilton College Community Farm Garden and the Hamilton Environmental Action Group. He also presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Western Political Science Association in Vancouver in 2009. 

Wall is an interdisciplinary cognitive studies major at Hamilton, and a graduate of Northfield Jr.-Sr. High School. At Hamilton he is the president and founder of the LAFBAF fermentation club, and was elected to the Doers and Thinkers honor society. He is employed at Café Opus and has served as a leader of Adirondack Adventure, Hamilton’s eight-day outdoor program for incoming students. 

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was established in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The Watson Foundation regards its investment in people as an effective contribution to the global community. 

In the history of the program, approximately 2640 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey. The Watson Year provides fellows an opportunity to test their aspirations and abilities and develop a more informed sense of international concern. Fellows have gone on to become college presidents and professors, CEOs of major corporations, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, politicians, artists, lawyers, diplomats, doctors, journalists, innovators and researchers across a wide range of sciences and engineering disciplines.
Back to Top