Fulbright – National Geographic Fellowship brings biologist Rubén Madriz Villanueva to study Chilean deglaciation


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For nine months, biologist from Iowa State University, Rubén Madriz, winner of the Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship will study the deglaciation of the northern Chilean Patagonia ice field. In the southern región of Aysén he will focus his investigation on the vanishing aquatic insect diversity before climate change continues to transform the local biodiversity forever. Such is the plan he explained to Fulbright Executive Director, Antonio Campaña on arrival in Santiago.

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The announcement was made by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,ECA,  Office of Academic Exchange Programs, which provides  opportunities for U.S. students and young professionals to share incredible stories about important issues and enhance mutual understanding between U.S. audiences and citizens of host countries through this new Fellowship.   National Geographic  will provide editorial assistance to Fellows and posts the digital stories that they produce during the grant period while in country on a dedicated program blog hosted on National Geographic’s website.

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Over 860 applications were received. Approximately 200 applicants were eligible before the National Screening Committee (NSC). Only five were ultimately selected for the 2017 grant.  Applications for this program were accepted for single or multi-country proposals.  This new Fulbright opportunity is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society. This partnership provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of project activities and digital storytelling in up to three countries each, on a globally significant social or environmental topic.
Through this Fellowship, Fulbrighters will undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue or issues, comparing and contrasting how that experience accross borders. For the Fellowship’s inaugural year of 2014, applications were accepted on the following themes: biodiversity, cities, climate change, cultures, energy, food, oceans, and water.  Using a variety of digital storytelling tools – including text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media – Fellows, like mexican born Rubén Madriz, will tell their investigation stories by publishing their work on National Geographic digital platforms, with the support of National Geographic’s editorial team.

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The Fulbright Commission in Chile strongly supports Ruben Madriz Villanueva’s project as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile had identified Oceans, Astronomy and Antarctic Studies as the three most strategic areas of scientific research and collaboration needed. Furthermore, Madriz Villanueva´s investigation will benefit of the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH)´s recently established partnership with Fulbright Commission,  whereby U.S. scientists under the U.S. Scholar Program would have access to INACH’s facilities.

Rubén Madriz Villanueva will travel to Aysén this week and start work immediately to explore “the story of deglaciation of the Northern Patagonia Ice Field (NPIF) in southern Chile, focusing on its vanishing aquatic insect diversity through images and stories of exploration and science bound to be transformed by climate change and human development.” This still remains a territory considered by the rest of the world as the reservoir of humanity.