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2022 NEXT Award Winners Prepare to Explore the World

University Libraries are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s Newman Exploration Travel Fund (NEXT) Award.

The NEXT Award program is intended to support students, faculty, and staff at Washington University who wish to explore this vast world. Travel is a valued means to expand one’s horizons and inspire growth, excellence, and innovation while pursuing both personal and professional goals.

This year’s awardees include one faculty member, one staff member, two undergraduate students, and four graduate students.

Faculty & Staff Winners

Brian Carpenter, professor of psychological and brain sciences, was awarded a travel grant to visit Japan, with the intent to explore end-of-life care in Japan—including how this is related to Buddhist teachings, and how clinical psychologists can better care for people at the end of life.

Javier Ventura, video editor and motion designer in University Marketing and Communications, is interested in the concept of complicated borders. While his interest stems from his childhood growing up in Juarez, Mexico, which shares a border with the city of El Paso, Texas, he is interested in the dynamics of another city with a fraught border—Jerusalem in Israel—and he will utilize his background as a video editor to explore these issues through film and other means.


Olivia Dres is an Arts & Sciences student majoring in Spanish and the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program. She will visit Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Greece to learn more about cultures, history, and art from those areas and experience day-to-day life in different regions of the world.

Kyle Melles is majoring in history and economics in Arts & Sciences, and plans to travel to Kenya to delve into their political and legal history and better understand the legacy of British colonial rule.


Ganesh Chelluboyina, PhD candidate in the Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering Department at the McKelvey School of Engineering, is planning to explore the glaciers, wildlife, and fjords of Iceland, and see how they are changing amidst climate change.

Asha Futterman is in the poetry MFA program in Arts & Sciences. Her poetry is inspired by Black archives, and she will take a trip to the Netherlands to conduct research in the national archives there, specifically focused on documents and other primary source materials that pertain to the transatlantic slave trade.

Danielle Ridolfi is a graduate student in the MFA in Illustration and Visual Culture program at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. She will visit Italy to examine the work and legacy of Maria Montessori and Bruno Munari, and plans to draw from this trip to create her master’s thesis, which is slated to include a children’s picture book and a suite of related pedagogical materials.

Donna Vatnick is pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction writing and plans to travel to France and learn more about the production and consumption of foie gras as a part of research for her thesis which focuses on the liver.

The University Libraries look forward to sharing more details about the awardees’ adventures in the coming year.