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UT Doctoral Student Awarded Fulbright Research Award

University of Tennessee doctoral student Jenna Watson received the Fulbright Open Study/Research Award to Romania to continue her research in the field of Anthropology. Watson is studying biological anthropology and currently fulfilling a role as a graduate teaching assistant with UT’s Department of Anthropology. She will conduct her dissertation research, “A Bioarcheological Investigation of Migration, Diet, and Health in Late Medieval-Early Modern Romania” in Bucharest, Romania beginning this October.

Originally from Vancouver, Washington, Watson served as a corps member with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on disaster mitigation, response, and recovery. Following her service with AmeriCorps, she worked as an executive assistant at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in New York City. Watson completed her Master of Arts degree in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee in 2018.

Through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Watson will spend eight months exploring how age, sex, social class, diet, and migrant status influenced patterns of physiological stress in human populations from the northeast and southeast Romania during the Late Medieval to Early Modern period.

Watson recalls being interested in human anatomy since her childhood, but it was not until her freshman year at Wellesley College that she decided to focus on biological anthropology. Now as a doctoral student, Watson is excited to complete her dissertation and is looking forward to her journey in Romania.

“Being able to do my data collection on a Fulbright Award will allow me to gain so much more than just data: experience living and researching abroad, forming new relationships and future research collaborations, cultural and language exchange, and coming out of this year as a more fully developed researcher and person who is ready to take what I have learned and apply it out in the world, wherever I land,” said Watson.

Having spent a short period of time in Romania, Watson is grateful for the opportunity to spend an entire academic year doing research abroad.

“I am excited to work with my colleagues, Dr. Mihai Constantinescu and Dr. Andrei Soficaru, again at my host institution, the Francisc I. Rainer Institute of Anthropology. They have been incredibly supportive of me over the years and of my Fulbright application, so the chance to work with them again is something I have been hoping to do for many years,” added Watson.

With vaccines being administered in the U.S and Romania, Watson is hopeful that she will experience more normalcy this fall and be able to make great contributions to the field of anthropology.

Watson is also the recipient of this year’s Mae Scheib Scholarship from UT’s Center for Global Engagement.