| by Jason Warburg

News Stories

Noemi Agagianian
Noemi Agagianian MAIEP ’22 (center, with microphone) teaches elementary school students about water conservation as part of her education outreach work for Valley Water in San Jose.

Middlebury Institute student Noemi Agagianian MAIEP ’22 recently won a Boren Award, providing up to $25,000 in fellowship funding for graduate students to learn “less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests.”

A second-year MA in International Environmental Policy student, Agagianian will be traveling to Hanoi, Vietnam, where she will be learning Vietnamese while studying wildlife trafficking issues.

“With my host organization, Education for Nature, I will be working on policy advocacy campaigns to establish and increase regulation for noncommercial conservation facilities, the exotic pet trade, and other wildlife crime,” says Agagianian. “I also plan to complete a research project assessing the viability of demand-reduction strategies among Vietnamese nationals.” 

Agagianian’s goal is to work on conservation and health issues at national and international levels. 

“I want to reduce (human-generated) pressure on biodiversity while also protecting local communities and vulnerable populations,” she says. “Combating illicit wildlife trafficking is a win-win for my career goals, where I can help reduce demand for and access to endangered species and also reduce the risk of future pandemics resulting from animal-borne viruses.” 

Her short-term goal is to work with the federal government, possibly within the Department of Interior or USAID. Over the long term, she hopes to work on wildlife trafficking issues at an intergovernmental agency.

In addition to her graduate studies, Agagianian currently conducts education outreach for Valley Water in San Jose. She learned about the Boren program in Professor Jeff Langholz’s Applied Conservation course, when he invited alumnus Bryce Bray MAIEP ’18 to speak about his Boren Award and career path.

“After hearing about his experience, I was inspired and started brainstorming ideas for a project of my own,” says Agagianian, citing Professor Langholz, David Wick, Edy Rhodes, and Carolyn Meyer as being “extremely helpful in encouraging me and assisting me through the project development and application processes.”


Noemi Agagianian
Noemi Agagianian MAIEP ’22

“I want to protect nature and biodiversity. This fellowship is an opportunity to pivot my career towards my passion and develop expertise in wildlife trade issues right at the center of the action. Having lived in Thailand for a year, I am excited to return to Southeast Asia, start learning Vietnamese, and immerse myself in all aspects of the culture,” said Agagianian.

She is the third Institute student to win a Boren Award this year, joining Jordyn Dezago MPA/MAIEM ’23 and Irene Fernald MAIEP ’23. Boren Awards are an initiative of the U.S. Defense Language and National Security Education Office. Students who accept them also commit to working for one year in public service in the U.S. government.