Linda Uyeda (PhD Wildlife Science, 2015, MA International Studies, 2010) wrote her dissertation on water monitor lizard behavior and human dimensions on Tinjil Island, Indonesia. Her research combined both conservation biology and international conservation. Linda took her first trip to the island through the University of Washington International Field Study Program in 2008. At the time, she “didn’t really know much about Indonesia.” So, after the trip, she “wanted to really get serious about Indonesian language study.”
Thanks to the FLAS Fellowship, Linda was able to improve her Indonesian for research. For subsequent trips, she “interviewed local Indonesian villagers to learn about their perspectives and attitudes towards wildlife.” Linda commented, “I feel for conservation measures to be successful, the two [STEM and Southeast Asian studies] must often go hand in hand.”
Beyond research, knowing Indonesian helped Linda connect with Tinjil Island on a personal level. “Being able to speak Indonesian allowed me to have much more meaningful experiences beyond my research; after a while, living on the island was like being with friends and family,” she explained. Also, the alternative is rather grim. “It would have been very lonely staying on the island for months at a time without being able to have conversations in Indonesian!” Linda said.
Like her research, Linda is not typical. She’s very brave and inspiring. Before entering the PhD program, she already had two careers under her belt: 10 years as a gymnastic coach and 5 years as an informal educator and zookeeper. Of course, she “was really nervous about going back to school” after such a long break. “Back when I was an undergraduate, we used to have to register for classes by using a touch-tone telephone,” Linda recalled. But the transition wasn’t as difficult as she had expected. Her advice for balancing work and school was to focus on one thing at a time – and be in the moment.
FLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education Office of the U.S. Department of Education. FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply. Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.