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Two Cornellians chosen to study in Asia as Luce scholars

Michael Gründler '10 and Perla Parra, an M.P.A. student in the graduate field of public affairs who anticipates receiving her degree in May, are among 18 new Luce scholars. The Luce Scholars Program -- begun in 1974 to increase awareness of Asia among future leaders in American society -- provides stipends and one-year internships in Asia. Cornell is one of only two institutions that have two Luce scholars this year.

Gründler, a herpetologist at Archbold Biological Station in Florida who studies the population biology and ecology of the Florida sand skink, graduated magna cum laude in biological sciences. He has conducted field research in the Mohave and Chihuahuan deserts, Trinidad and New Guinea, where his work in the Morobe province led to the discovery of a new frog species. As a junior, he won the Goldwater Scholarship for academic excellence in science. After his Luce year he will work toward a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology.

Parra is senior managing editor of the public policy journal The Current, president of Cornell Women in Public Policy and chair of the Latino Graduate Student Coalition. Last summer Parra analyzed urban population data at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs; in winter 2010 she conducted market research in Stellenbosch, South Africa, for the country's sole black-owned winery and fruit-processing company. She will study law after her Luce year.

Before coming to Cornell, Parra worked as an analyst and as a bilingual case manager for the Marin Child Care Council. Her long-term aim is to work with an international organization or government on poverty alleviation.

Dating from 1974, the program's purpose is to increase awareness of Asia among future leaders in American society. Luce scholars have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability and a clearly defined career interest with evidence of potential for professional accomplishment, according to the foundation.

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Blaine Friedlander