Emma Sullivan and Darcy Kim

Two Wellesley College seniors receive prestigious Watson Fellowships

Image credit: Joel Haskell

Author  Stacey Schmeidel
Published on 

Wellesley, Massachusetts—Wellesley College seniors Darcy Kim and Emma Sullivan are among just 35 students from across the nation chosen to receive prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships.

The awards provide exceptional graduating seniors, from any discipline, with funding for a full year of international travel to support a project that they’ve identified and defined on their own.

Darcy Kim—a mathematics and computer science major from Annandale, Virginia—will travel to Canada, The Netherlands, India, Nigeria and New Zealand to research “Community-Centered AI for Social Good.”

“As Artificial Intelligence becomes increasingly entwined with human experiences, it’s crucial that we confront its limitations in the context of colonialism and the ongoing violence it perpetuates,” Kim noted in their Watson application. They plan to spend their Watson year “exploring community centered AI as a liberative tool through the guidance of elders dedicated to indigenous wisdom, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and socially engaged art.”

While at Wellesley, Kim was a research intern in the Rosetta Commons REU at Northwestern’s Feinberg school of Medicine, using AI and big data analysis to research proteins. They also held an internship at Microsoft, where they implemented a micro-feedback mechanism on Microsoft Edge, and served as a research assistant in the Empirical and Statistical Explorations of Language lab at Wellesley under Professor Carolyn Anderson, exploring how representations of women change over time.

Emma Sullivan—a poet and printmaker studying creative writing and Russian at Wellesley—will travel to Ireland, The Netherlands, Scotland, Slovenia, Taiwan and Turkey for her Watson year, to research a project called “Beyond the Blank Page.” Engaging with large-scale literary festivals and grassroots arts programs, Sullivan “hopes to understand how writers and artists inspire and support one another to create sustainable programs that build confidence and community.”

At Wellesley, Sullivan has been involved with the campus radio station, OutLoud (Wellesley’s first spoken word organization) and edited a zine called Secrets Between Girls. A data and marketing intern for Wellesley’s career education office, Sullivan is from Naples, Florida.

Kim and Sullivan are two of the dozens of Wellesley students and graduates who have successfully competed for distinguished fellowships in recent years. Since 2020, 10 Wellesley students have received Watson Fellowships.

“The Watson provides truly extraordinary, transformative opportunities,” said Kate Dailinger, Wellesley’s director of fellowships. “And that’s true not only for those who win the fellowships, but also for every student brave enough to delve into their deepest curiosities and to explore the most creative ways they might aspire to contribute to their communities and to the world.”

This year’s class of Watson Fellows come from 17 states and 3 countries and exhibit a broad range of academic specialties, socio-economic backgrounds, and life experiences. Profiles of all Watson recipients—as well as more information about the Watson Fellowships—are available online.