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Alexandra McDougle, center front, during the 2014 archaeological field season.

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa alumna Alexandra McDougle, a 2015 graduate from the anthropology department in the College of Social Sciences, has been named one of the 2016 Luce Scholars. Selected from a field of approximately 175 nominees nationwide, McDougle is the first Luce Scholar nominated by UH Mānoa and is the first selectee in the program’s history with a physical anthropology background.

The Luce Scholars Program is a national fellowship program that was established in 1974 by the Henry Luce Foundation of New York City. The program, which identifies promising young leaders for a yearlong experience of working in Asia, is designed to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders of American Society. Seventy-five top universities and colleges in the United States are invited each year to nominate up to three candidates per campus, with a total of 15 to 20 Luce Scholars selected from the pool.

McDougle was drawn by the Luce Scholar Program’s focus on identifying promising young leaders for a yearlong experience of working in Asia that is designed to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders of American Society developing future leaders.

“By actively creating a space for women and minorities in academia, I make room for the future anthropologists and leaders who will follow me. My commitment to increasing diversity and inspiring change are in line with the Luce Foundation’s mission to bring important ideas to the center of American life and strengthening international understanding. The Luce Foundation will give me the opportunity to represent the complexities of the modern day American leader,” said McDougle.

An understanding of diversity and inequality to what constitutes a good leader is only part of what drives McDougle. She also hopes to bring her training to bear on the interplay between biology and culture, and ensure that stories are told as objectively and as honestly as possible.

“It’s a year to go out and try new things. A year to go out and find yourself. Learning about different Asian cultures is a priority for Luce Scholars. We are encouraged to travel to other Asian countries, to experience modern day Asia and to bring these ideas to the center of American life,” she added.

“Alexandra is a wonderful example of type of students within the College of Social Sciences. Like many of her peers, she is bold and engaged. We are proud of her achievements, and even prouder that her potential is being recognized on a national level,” said Denise Eby Konan, dean of the College of Social Sciences.

“This is the first year that the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa was invited to nominate students to the Luce Scholars Program. For Alexandra to be selected as one of this year’s awardees is a testament to the tremendous value she brings to her field of study,” added Konan.

Alexandra McDougle crosses a landslide while traveling through the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

More about Alexandra McDougle

McDougle, whose long-term professional goal is to become a forensic archaeologist, built her skills on fieldwork in the Philippines. Funded by the UH Mānoa Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, her fieldwork involved the study of skulls of juvenile skeletons in the Ifugao region. She graduated in spring 2015 with high honors in anthropology, under the mentorship Michael Pietrusewsky and graduate student Adam Lauer.

Aside from her archaeological studies in the Philippines, she also participated in a biomedical studies program under the direction of David Haymer, the excavation of a North Shore field school focused on an ancient Hawaiian temple ground and an outreach and archival project on the Honouliuli Internment Camp site, a World War II internment camp in Hawaiʻi.

Currently, McDougle is participating in a field experience in the island of Betio in the Republic of Kirbati with History Flight, a non-profit organization that seeks to locate and recover fallen U.S. military personnel.

For more on McDougle read the College of Social Sciences news release.

—By Lisa Shirota

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