Seniors Mercer Borris and Jesse Bossingham Receive Watson Fellowships

Borris and Bossingham

Mercer Borris ’16, an engineering major from New York, N.Y., and Jesse Bossingham ’16, an Honors economics and political science major from Clinton, Wis., will receive $30,000 grants to explore their research interests internationally.

Two Swarthmore students are among the highly competitive ranks of this year's Watson Fellows and will follow their research interests across the world.

Mercer Borris ’16, an engineering major from New York, N.Y., and Jesse Bossingham ’16, an Honors economics and political science major from Clinton, Wis., will receive $30,000 grants to explore their interests internationally.

Borris’ successful proposal, “Robots and Gizmos: Interfaces of Health,” will take her to Sweden, India, Qatar, Botswana, and Japan. She will examine what makes a country “healthy” and how it relates to the use and acceptance of medical technology — from mobile health solutions to advanced robotics.

“I'm interested in the contrast between urban and rural areas and between different generations,” Borris says. “Is there a correlation between availability of technology and quality of healthcare?"

“If so, I think cultural attitudes towards both health and technology must play a role,” she adds. “As a future engineer, I want to know the anthropological aspect of medical devices, not simply the technical details.”

Bossingham’s topic, “How We Die: A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Dying,” will send him to Ireland, The Netherlands, India, and Botswana. He will analyze cultural approaches to death and end-of-life care around the globe.

“I will interview medical professionals, patients, family members, and clergy about their thoughts on the questions and the process of dying,” Bossingham says, “with an emphasis on how people make their choices.

The Watson Foundation extends these opportunities to “graduates of unusual promise.” It fans fellows across the world to “enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.”