History Graduate Students Win Cosmos Foundation Grants
Ala Creciun, Samuel Miner and Roger Bailey are winners of this year's Cosmos Scholars Grant Program. Initiated in 1998, the grant has provided research support not covered by other funds. Over the years, the program has provided over 300 grants to master's and doctoral students at local Washington-area universities, including 111 to Maryland's graduate scholars.
According to its mission statement, the "Cosmos Club Foundation trustees receive 200 or more applications across a veriety of disciplines from eligible institutions within the Washington, D.C. area. Applicants are ranked according to merit and the likelihood of significant research results. The process is very selective; only about 10% of the proposals submitted are funded, and they are of such high quality that the results of the research are likely to be widely recognized. The program thus has a two-fold public benefit—graduate-student financial support and increase in knowledge. About a year after receipt of their grant, grantees are invited to present the results of their research at a dinner hosted at the Club by the Foundation."
This year's Maryland grant recipients are all doctoral students in the Department of History. Past UMD winners have come from Biology, Art History and Archaeology, Animal and Avian Sciences, and Anthropology. The university's first awardees were in 1999. Jennifer Strychasz was chosen for her work on race and Christianity in African American church art while Dhanurjay "DJ" Patil was selected for his work in applied mathematics.
Before coming to UMD, Bailey worked in the Civil War Trust's Education Department designing virtual battlefield tours, producing educational films, and writing articles. He specializes in nineteenth century U.S. military and cultural history. His dissertation examines American naval officers' beliefs about race, slavery, and regional loyalty and its affect on public debate and foreign policy leading up the Civil War. "This timely and important grant will allow me to travel to archives in California to study the correspondences of several important naval officers who were active in the Pacific during the antebellum era. I hope to clarify how these officers felt about pro-slavery territorial expansion," says Bailey.
Miner, meanwhile, studies 20th-century Europe with a focus on postwar Germany. His work examines the reconstruction of a democratic legal system in occupied West Germany. Miner is most interested in the prosecution of war criminals in West German courts and the writing of West Germany's constitution in 1949. This award will allow him to do research in the British National Archives before his year in Germany as a Fulbright semi-finalist. "I have made extensive use of American archives to supplement material that doesn't exist in German archives, but have yet to look at the British occupation records to find similar material. This grant is a fantastic opportunity to begin my overseas work earlier," remarks Miner.
His colleague Ala Creciun will also travel abroad. Born in Moldova, Creciun came to College Park after earning her Open Society Foundation-funded Master’s degree from Budapest's Central European University. She came to the History Department to focus on late 19th century Russia and the manner in which the Russian monarchy and state sought to rebuild their popular appeal during the 1880's and 1890's in the face of mounting revolutionary threat. The Cosmos Scholars Grant Program will enable Creciun to travel to Russia to conduct archival research for her forthcoming publication Reform on the Eve of Revolution: Russian Press and Competing Visions for the Monarchy in the 1880's. "The distinguished mission and membership of The Cosmos Club make this award a true honor. I think we can all be grateful to the Foundation for their critical support at this early stage in our careers, as we research, publish, and build our academic profiles," says Creciun.
(Photo A. De Cheke Qualls)