BRITISH SCHOLARS AT PENN
Master’s in Law
Large Animal Surgery, Medicine & Emergency Care
Doctorate in English
Master’s in Law
Master’s in Business Administration
Master’s in Public Health
AMERICAN SCHOLARS IN THE U.K.
ALEXIS MONTOURIS CIAMBOTTI
JOHN PAUL HAGAN
University of Oxford
MPhil in Political Theory
University of Oxford
Master’s of Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation
SPOTLIGHT ON ALUMNI
FRANCES STEAD SELLERS
When Donald Trump returned Frances Stead Sellers’s call, he didn’t reach her at the Washington Post’s high-tech newsroom on K Street — she was at her kitchen table, so that’s where she interviewed him about how his reality TV experience helped him run for the U.S. presidency. It was near the end of the tumultuous campaign of 2016, in which Frances’s job as a senior writer also had her interviewing skeptical Germans in Trump’s ancestral village and drinking moonshine from a jam-jar with Appalachian voters. This wasn’t the career path she expected when she got her master’s in linguistics at Penn (though her German came in handy at Kallstadt, as her French did when she interviewed heroic doctors after the Paris bombings). “Being a journalist means that I am paid to do what all Thouron scholars like doing most of all – talking to people about how their world works. It’s a license to trespass not only into other people’s lives but across topics — in my case, from the arts and sciences to politics. I get to work on what might, rather grandly, be called the search for truths.”
Doug Antczak took up polo during his Thouron years at Cambridge, and loved playing so much he almost dropped out of school. But he dislocated a hip in a fall, and while convalescing from the “lucky break” immersed himself in immunology research. The horse — that “magnificent animal” — has been the focus of a lifetime of authoritative research; today he is an academic veterinary scientist at Cornell University, member of the Equine Research Hall of Fame and 2010 winner of the International Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist Award. He bred Twilight, the mare chosen by the U.S. National Institutes of Health as the DNA donor of the Horse Genome Sequence. His most recent project has sent him to Qatar, to study the comparative genetics of the Arabian horse, the Arabian oryx and the dromedary camel.
As special assistant to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (left), part of Luke Butler’s job was coordinating meetings with such visiting dignitaries as Tony Blair (center). Now, as chief of staff to the city’s deputy mayor, Luke works to attract new businesses to the city, support local entrepreneurs and help deal with the day to day crises of city government. He credits the Thouron Award with launching his life in a new country, and is proud to repay as he can. “One of the very first Thourons – David Leslie Hughes – had been trying for decades to get an elected official from Pennsylvania to visit William Penn’s gravesite in Buckinghamshire. So when Mayor Nutter visited the U.K. in 2013 we arranged for that to be our first stop. We drove straight from Heathrow to Jordans Quaker Meeting House just outside of Amersham, where the mayor visited Penn’s gravesite and planted a tree from Pennsylvania.”
Michelle Peluso is the CEO of GILT – an online fashion shopping destination with more than eight million members around the world. That’s just the latest entry in the astonishing resume this “digital exec” has acquired since leaving Oxford two decades ago: founder of the online travel business Site59, which Travelocity acquired in 2002; CEO of Travelocity; global chief marketing and digital officer for financial giant Citigroup’s consumer businesses. She serves on the board of directors of Nike, as well as the board of Technoserve, a nonprofit seeking business solutions to poverty in the developing world.
“The energy of London in the early ’80s was electric,” recalls artist and jewelry designer John Wind. It was during his Thouron year at the Slade School of Fine Arts that he discovered the treasures of Portobello Road, followed his passions for fashion and popular culture and began making jewelry. “By the time I graduated I was supporting myself at it, and my future was clear.” Today his Maximal Art creations are sold in hundreds of boutiques, museum stores, gift shops and online, and have been featured in Vogue, Oprah and other media. His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Lorene Cary, an arts administrator and senior lecturer at Penn, is most widely known as a writer, whose works include the acclaimed memoir “Black Ice” and the novel “The Price of a Child.” “Before I left the States, I thought of myself, an African American woman, as a minority,” says Cary. “The Thouron year made me understand how wide – and how black and brown – the world is. It gave me confidence I could not have developed here in the U.S.” Her year at Sussex University not only put her in touch with English and African students, it gave her, for the first time, the open-ended opportunity “to read and write luxuriously.”
“In the early 1980s, the world of equine veterinary practice was completely male-dominated, and I had little chance of entering it, ” says Sue Dyson. “My entire professional career was jump-started by the Thouron Award” – which enabled her to complete an internship at Penn’s New Bolton Center, one of the leading veterinary schools and hospitals in the world. Today Dyson, based in Suffolk, is an internationally renowned expert in equine orthopaedics – “I’m a sports medicine specialist for horses,” working with animals from all over the United Kingdom and Europe. She lectures and teaches extensively, and provides case management advice and image interpretation to colleagues around the world; she’s also continually involved in clinical research, supervises PhD students and guides two interns a year.
Bruce Kuklick can’t remember how he got the audacious idea of applying for a Thouron – the first person in his family to graduate from high school, he commuted to Penn from his blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood and thought of a trip downtown as a dangerous adventure. “It blew me away, seeing the spires of Oxford for the first time.” That naïve youth became an important historian and professor; in 2004 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society, a distinction that has come to very few American scholars. “The Thouron Award changed everything” he says. “It opened my eyes to the world, made me think differently about life; it gave me an enduring international perspective and created lifelong friendships.” Photo by Michael T. Regan.
Hilary Moore has made her mark in several widely disparate worlds. She loves her day job as a communications specialist with the consulting giant McKinsey & Company. An accomplished musician and author of “Inside British Jazz” (based on her PhD work at Penn), she performs harp or piano in concerts. Most recently, she’s the author of a series of children’s books called “Brave, Strong Girls” – some of them original stories, some retellings of fairy tales like “Brave, Strong Snow White.” And she’s a founding trustee of Positive Women, which supports women and AIDS orphans in Swaziland, where she once did a year of volunteer work. It was at a fundraiser for that charity that she met and was charmed (above) by Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu.
David Bendell is a registered nurse, recently completed research at the famed Cleveland Clinic, creator of educational YouTube videos and advocate for improved health care worldwide. He credits the breadth of his work to his experience at Penn, where he took classes not only at the School of Nursing but at the Wharton School of Business and the Department of Organizational Dynamics. “The array of pedagogy at Penn enabled me to improve my level of independent inquiry, critical thinking abilities, and intellectual curiosity beyond what I could have gained in comparable courses in the U.K.”
With a background in molecular biology, Daniel Simon used his Thouron Award to get an MBA from Wharton and now works at the intersection of science and business: He leads business development for pharmaceutical applications for Guardant Health, a Silicon Valley start-up that puts technology developed for digital communications to work for cancer diagnosis, treatment and research. Like many Thourons, he notes that the fellowship has also given him a “rich vein of friendships and inspiration” – and he adds: “Rupert Thouron’s annual Vermont ski vacations for the scholars are legendary.”
Hollywood writer/director Andy Wolk (“Gossip Girl” and “The Sopranos” are among his many film and TV credits) recalls arriving for graduate school at the Royal Holloway College of the University of London and hearing a talk by a director of the National Theatre. “I was enthralled. I introduced myself, told him I had this great scholarship, and all I wanted to do was work in the English theatre and I didn’t need any money because it was all being paid for. Did he know a theatre I could start in? Did he ever! He said, why not start at the National? I went to work and never looked back. I became an assistant director on one production after another — learning like crazy — until I got to direct my first professional play in London. I was 22 years old and a Thouron Scholar.”
During her years as a student, Bernadette Tiso focused sharply on health care: She used her Thouron Award to study health policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford, then returned to Penn Law with a focus on health issues. Today, she is deputy general counsel to the New York Blood Center, a major nonprofit blood collection and distribution organization which also focuses on the science of blood diseases such as HIV, leukemia and sickle cell anemia. But Tiso’s Thouron year expanded her goals in a broader sense: it inspired a lifelong craving for knowledge of other cultures. “I traveled more and met more culturally diverse people during that single year than during the rest of the years of my life combined.”
After graduating in French and anthropology, Gwyneth Leech used her Thouron fellowship to take an “exciting and terrifying” step in a different direction — studying at Edinburgh College of Art. There she launched a creative career that has spanned three decades and two continents. In Scotland, she was artist in residence at the Scottish Opera, painted murals for the interior of Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, made videos on the lives of African and Asian immigrants and served as president of the Society of Scottish Artists. Now living in New York, she’s drawing, painting and doing installations — notably of her iconic painted paper coffee cups. After one installation opened in London and then Glasgow, she noted, “I have to say that my Thouron fellowship truly enabled the kind of transformative, personal yet public, Anglo-American exchange the founding family intended!” Photo by Marianne Barcellona.
Now that he has retired, John Woodward can say it: he spent most of the preceding four decades as an intelligence professional with the Central Intelligence Agency, working in the U.S., East Asia, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. He also served as a senior analyst with the Rand Corporation and in the Department of Defense, where he received the Army’s third highest civilian award for his counterterrorism work in the field of biometrics. A professor at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, John credits his Thouron fellowship with setting him on the road to an international career. But, he adds, “the longer-term benefit has been true fellowship. Being a Thouron Scholar is really more like becoming a welcome member of a large, esteemed family.”
Not to be missed: the Annual Ski Trip to Vermont.
Thourons celebrate 50 years and beyond.
A rite of passage: the Welcome/Farewell party at Glenroy Farm.
Party skills (particularly karaoke and pick-up-sticks) a requirement for all Thourons.