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.”
“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.”
“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.
Bryce Bray MAIEP ’18 has been awarded a Boren, a Fulbright, and most recently an Institute of Current World Affairs fellowship, all of which are helping him continue to develop expertise and expand his professional network in his chosen field of climate policy.