A perspective view of an old stone street and historic buildings lit up in the foreground framing the distant Agua volcano in Antigua, Guatemala during the blue hour of the evening.

Faculty Members Awarded Global Career Launch Grants for Transnational Student Internships in 2022

  • Dec 20, 2021
  • Education Abroad

Five professors at The University of Texas at Austin will take students to Botswana, Guatemala, Panama, Portugal and Russia in 2022 to engage in immersive research and hands-on work, thanks to grants from Global Career Launch. The faculty-driven internship program provides undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to garner transnational career experience while allowing faculty to deepen and leverage their connections with peers at universities across the globe.  

Faculty members initiating projects in 2022 constitute the fourth cohort funded since the 2020 inception of Global Career Launch. These projects will inspect wildlife recovery and vegetative response to disturbances in Botswana; connect low-income women to employment, education and entrepreneurial opportunities in Guatemala; explore issues of democracy, gender rights, and political participation in Panama; develop, fabricate and test textiles for specialized medical garments in Portugal; and study and implement sustainable textile design and inclusivity in merchandising in Russia. 

Global Career Launch aims to strategically increase participation in international internships with support in the forms of funding, advising and sustained academic engagement. The program awards each faculty member a travel grant and stipend to oversee up to ten students per project. Students each receive a grant of up to $4,000 to support their internship abroad. 

2022 Grant Recipients and Projects 

Thoralf Meyer

Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography and the Environment 
College of Liberal Arts
(Thakadu Bush Camp and MODISA Wildlife Project, Botswana)

Thoralf Meyer, Ph.D., focuses his current scientific research on vegetative response to various forms of disturbance, such as fire, herbivory and land use/ land cover change, both in the Kalahari region of Botswana and in Texas. For Global Career Launch, Dr. Meyer will expand upon his long-term partnerships with Thakadu Bush Camp and MODISA Wildlife Project in Botswana. Selected students will have the opportunity to conduct wildlife recovery research projects across the Kalahari and Tsabong regions of Botswana.  

Marilyn Felkner

Clinical Assistant Professor, Public Health Program 
School of Human Ecology, College of Natural Sciences 
(Asociación Nuestros Ahijados, Antigua, Guatemala) 

Marilyn Felkner, Ph.D., works toward preventing disease and promoting health at a population level, and helping people reach their potential on an individual level. For Global Career Launch, Dr. Felkner will partner with Asociación Nuestros Ahijados (ANA), an organization in Antigua, Guatemala, that focuses on health and education for low-income women and children. Selected student interns will work with ANA on a program that connects women to employment, education and entrepreneurial opportunities.  

Zachary Elkins

Associate Professor, Department of Government
(International IDEA, Panama City, Panama) 

The research of Zachary Elkins, Ph.D., examines issues of democracy, institutional reform, research methods and national identity, with an emphasis on cases in Latin America. For Global Career Launch, Professor Elkins will expand upon his current partnership with International IDEA, one of the world’s leading organizations devoted to strengthening democratic institutions. Selected student interns will be based in Panama City, Panama, and will support projects and research in Latin America focused on electoral assistance, constitution building, democracy, peace building, gender rights, or political participation and representation.  

Luisa Gil Fandino

Assistant Professor, Division of Textiles and Apparel 
School of Human Ecology, College of Natural Sciences
(CITEVE-Textile Technology, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal) 

Luisa Gil Fandino, Ph.D., researches smart technical textiles in the garment industry as well as medical, architectural and performance apparel. For Global Career Launch, Dr. Fandino will partner with CITEVE-Textile Technology, a premier textile technology research center in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. Selected students will work in CITEVE’s lab to investigate, fabricate and test textiles for next-to-skin medical garments used after surgery or as support for ongoing conditions such as varicose veins or hernias.   

Jessica Ciarla

Assistant Professor, Division of Textiles and Apparel
School of Human Ecology, College of Natural Sciences 
(ODEVAIWear, St. Petersburg, Russia) 

Professor Jessica Ciarla, M.A., is also a fashion designer with more than fourteen years of experience in the industry. Her current research explores sustainable product design and material development. For Global Career Launch, Professor Ciarla will partner with ODEVAIWear, a women-owned fashion brand that focuses on inclusivity and sustainable design in St. Petersburg, Russia. Students interning with ODEVAIWear will gain hands-on experience in a variety of areas including design, merchandising and promotion.