Fellowship Recipients

Alex Benjamin Casteel

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Alex Benjamin Casteel, who holds a BA from Willamette University and MAs from the University of
Iceland and University of Oslo, is pursuing a PhD in Interdepartmental Archaeology from University of California Los Angeles. He will learn traditional turf house construction at the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum.

Inga Guðrún Eiríksdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Inga Guðrún Eiríksdóttir, who holds a BS from the University of Iceland and MA from the University of California Santa Barbara, is pursuing a PhD in Statistics and Applied Probability at University of California Santa Barbara to study spatial dependence.

Benedikt Fadel Farag

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Benedikt Fadel Farag, who has a BS from the University of Iceland, is currently completing an MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Washington. He plans to pursue an MS in Statistics and Data Science at Yale University.

Colin Fisher

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Colin Fisher, who has a BA from Binghamton University and an MA from the University of Iceland, is pursuing a PhD in Icelandic Literature at the University of Iceland to study the imagined portrayal of Jewish figures in Icelandic literature.

Sydney Lauren Fox

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Sydney Lauren Fox, who holds a BS from California State University Fresno, is pursuing an MS in Digital Health Technologies from Reykjavík University. She will conduct research on microplastic pollution in the Arctic.

Hildur Hjörvar

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Hildur Hjörvar, who has a BA and MagJur from the University of Iceland and an MA from the University of Strasbourg, will pursue an LLM in international human rights law at Harvard University.

Gríma Eir Geirs Irmudóttir

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Gríma Eir Geirs Irmudóttir, who has a BA from the University of the Arts London, is pursuing an MFA in Documentary Media Studies at Northwestern University. She is studying documentary filmmaking with a minor in Environmental Science to draw attention to critical issues at the intersection of humanity, society, and the environment.

Erna María Jónsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Erna María Jónsdóttir, who has a BS and MS from the University of Iceland, is pursuing a PhD in
Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Iceland. She will be a visiting scholar and conduct research on extracellular vesicles in Dr. Houjian Cai’s Lab at the University of Georgia.

Enar Kornelius Leferink,

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Enar Kornelius Leferink, who holds a BS from the University of Chicago, is pursuing an MESc in
Environmental Science at the Yale School of the Environment to study industrial symbiosis.

Holly Frances McArthur

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Holly Frances McArthur, who holds a BA from New College of Florida and MA from the University of
Iceland, is completing a PhD in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She will conduct research at the Árni Magnússon Institute on Flóvents saga manuscripts.

Arnhildur Tómasdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2024 – 2025
Arnhildur Tómasdóttir, who has a BS from the University of Iceland, is pursuing an MS in Human
Genetics and Genetic Counseling at Stanford University to study genetic diseases and counseling.

Moira Aileen Brennan

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Moira Aileen Brennan, who holds a BSc from Stevens Institute of Technology, is an ornithologist pursuing an MSc in Biology at the University of Iceland. Her previous experience researching owls with Wild Bird Research Group, Inc. fostered her curiosity about a new breeding population of long-eared owls in Iceland. Her MSc thesis on long-eared owl (Eyrugla) habitat use and diet in Iceland is a steppingstone in understanding how recent ecosystem changes in Iceland have shifted species composition and distribution. Further, this project provides insight on the range expansion and adaptability of this secretive owl species.

Because of the generous funding of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Moira was able to complete the field work necessary for her thesis. Any new information on this understudied species is significant, and she hopes to continue monitoring the owl populations in Iceland going forward.

Katelin Collier

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Katelin Collier, who holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, is pursuing an MS in Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Iceland, specializing in Renewable Energy Economics and Policy. She will graduate in June 2024. For her thesis project, Katelin investigated the factors affecting renewable energy development in indigenous communities in the United States, including obstacles, opportunities, and systemic hurdles through a combined literature review and thematic analysis methodology. Her thesis also assessed how these factors affect indigenous sovereignty by analyzing case studies of Native American renewable energy development alongside the findings of the thematic analysis.

Sigurbjörn Bernharð Edvardsson

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Sigurbjörn B. Edvardsson holds both a B.A. and an M.A. in Law from the University of Iceland. During his Master’s studies, he also attended the University of Vienna, Austria, and Columbia University, New York. After graduating, he worked as an associate at LOGOS Legal Services and served as a judicial law clerk at the Icelandic Court of Appeal. In 2024, he earned an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, with a focus on Constitutional Law, Legal Theory, and Corporate Law. While at Harvard, Sigurbjörn was an article editor for the Harvard Human Rights Journal. After completing his studies, he joined the European Surveillance Authority in Brussels. Additionally, he intends to contribute to academia by teaching at universities in Iceland.

Taylor Alexandra Martin

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Alex Martin holds a BSc in Environmental Engineering and a certificate in Leadership Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is pursuing a Msc in Sustainable Energy Engineering at Reykjavík University’s Iceland School of Energy. Specializing in geothermal, her masters studies were supplemented with two internships in both high temperature and low temperature applications. In May 2024, she served as a panelist for the Icelandic Geothermal Conference, discussing geothermal transitions in urban settings. Partnering with the Reykjavik Energy Science Fund, Alex’s thesis evaluated a waste to value approach of Hellisheidi geothermal power plant. Mapping out sources of waste, environmental impacts, and cascade utilization, her work identified opportunities to further waste use on site through the lens of environmental, economic, and operational sustainability.

Ivana Anna Nikolic

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Ivana Anna Nikolic received a BA degree in law and Mag.jur. degree from the University of Iceland in 2018 and 2020. She then went on to work as a Legal Advisor to the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland and a part-time lecturer in law at both the University of Iceland and Reykjavík University.

Ivana graduated from Harvard Law School in 2024 with an LL.M. degree in law. During her time at Harvard, she focused on Public Law, such as Constitutional Law, and Human Rights. She served as an Assistant Managing Editor and Submissions Editor for the Harvard Human Rights Journal, as well as a Submissions Editor for the Harvard Journal on Law & Technology. In addition, she served as a Co-President of the Harvard Human Rights and Business Student Association and attended the 12th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva as a part of a delegation from Harvard. Furthermore, she volunteered as a Student Attorney at the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and was a part of the Harvard Women’s Law Association.

Kjartan Skarphéðinsson

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Kjartan Skarphéðinsson received a B.S. degree in molecular biology and biochemistry in 2022. He has worked on several biochemistry related projects since 2020, including feasibility of blood sample biomarkers using mass spectrometry, production of proteins with non-canonical amino acids using genetic code expansion, and Amyloid Beta quantification in blood.

He is passionate about cultural literacy and has volunteered in several related organizations. He was chairman of the Board of European Students of Technology (BEST) Reykjavík and has been a board member of the Reykjavík chapter of American Field Service (AFS) as well as the youth board of Bergur: Headspace. He has also been a mentor to several high school students of immigrant background through Sprettur.

His M.S. project is focused on pioneer transcription factors, and how those remarkable proteins facilitate cell differentiation by unpacking the chromatin in the cell nucleus. The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship allowed him to spend time in Dr. Kenneth S. Zaret’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania as a visiting scholar. Zaret is the originator of the term “pioneer factor” and has been researching them for well over 20 years.

Kjartan is particularly interested in the smaller scale dynamics of direct interactions between pioneer factors and packed DNA units called nucleosomes. He is finishing his M.S. thesis in biochemistry at the University of Iceland which is mostly based on his work in the US.

Ingvar Þóroddsson

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Hanna Þráinsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Hanna Þráinsdóttir graduated from New York University in spring 2024 with a MA degree in Media, Culture, and Communication. She holds a BA degree in Digital Communication and Psychology from Georgian Court University. Her research focus is Icelandic media and queer theory.

In her master’s thesis, Hanna employed archival research and critical textual analyses to scrutinize queer representation and rhetoric in scripted Icelandic television productions throughout Icelandic television history (1966-2023). The project, being the first of its kind, can function both as a historical reference for past depictions of queerness in Icelandic television and serve as a foundation for further explorations in Icelandic representational studies.

Hanna has presented her research at multiple conferences and plans to continue analyzing Icelandic media with a theoretical focus in queer, feminist, and critical studies. Along with the 2023-2024 Leifur Eiriksson grant, Hanna was awarded a Fulbright fellowship from the Icelandic Fulbright Commission in 2022. Throughout her time at university in the United States she was a NCAA student-athlete, and currently plays basketball in the Icelandic Premier League.

Konstantine Vlasis

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Konstantine Vlasis is a scholar and composer of ecological sound. His work explores how sound, music, and listening together mediate ecological relationships, and the efficacy of audio-based mediums for climate communication and environmental storytelling. His current project, “Listening With Glaciers: The Sounds and Songs of a Melting Landscape,” traces the human ecology of glaciers in Iceland through ambient sound and traditional song. Konstantine has been a recipient of numerous awards, including a Humanities New York Public Humanities Grant, NYU Torch Fellowship, Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellow, and Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Award. He is PhD Candidate in Music and Sound Studies at NYU and an active member of the percussion quartet, Apex Percussion.

Daison Weedop

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Daison Weedop holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Utah State University and a Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. At Utah State University he developed a passion for aquatic sciences as an employee of the National Aquatic Monitoring Center which kick-started his career in aquatic ecology. After completing his bachelor’s degree and a summer of Field work at Toolik Field Station, AK he was hired as a graduate research assistant in the Aquatic Ecology Lab at the University of Maine. Here he studied fish movement in the Willamette River, OR, food webs in Acadia National Park, and small benthic morph charr near Lake Mývatn. After two years in Maine, he began his work in Iceland with Bjarni Kristjánsson and Camille Leblanc at Hólar University. At Hólar University he studied Arctic Charr and food webs in spring-fed cave ponds near Lake Mývatn. Daison will now be working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Óttar Snær Yngvason

Scholarship Years: 2023 – 2024

Óttar Snær Yngvason, who holds a BSc from the University of Iceland, is pursuing an MSc in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Óttar is studying hardware engineering with an emphasis on analog and RF circuits and PCB design. Ottar is also studying machine learning and optimization. During his program, Ottar has done research on mm-Wave sensing along with a parttime interning at an AI company.

Einar Aðalsteinsson

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Einar Aðalsteinsson is a musical theatre writer, director and actor from Reykjavik. He holds a B.A. degree in acting from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and M.F.A degree in Musical Theatre Writing from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. As a theatre artist Einar has performed and directed in multiple professional productions, held workshops and masterclasses in Iceland, England and Europe. His Icelandic translations of the musicals Into The Woods and Fun Home have been produced numerous times in Iceland. Einar has written lyrics and composed music for theatre productions in professional and amateur theatre. For his thesis project at NYU, Einar wrote the music for the full-length musical The Forty Elephants, named after a real-life all-women crime-ring that dominated much of the crime-scene in Victorian London and beyond. As a musician, Einar has been a member of countless failed pop bands.

Áshildur Friðriksdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Áshildur is pursuing a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. She completed her BS studies in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Iceland. Áshildur is now in the lab of Prof. Paul McIntyre working on semiconductor nanostructures for electronics. Before coming to Stanford, she worked as a summer undergraduate research fellow at California Institute of technology, researching nanostructures for solar-driven carbon dioxide reduction.

Esther Hallsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Esther Hallsdóttir graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2023 with a Master’s degree in Public Policy, along with a Child Protection Certificate from the Harvard François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of Iceland, Esther was a campaign manager for UNICEF Iceland, served as Iceland’s first youth delegate to the United Nations for human rights, and briefly worked in journalism.

During her time at the Harvard Kennedy School, Esther focused on international development and human rights, with a particular emphasis on children’s rights and gender equality. She worked as a research assistant to Professor Dara Kay Cohen, focusing on sexual violence during conflict, and her work on sexual violence by Russian forces in Ukraine was published in the Washington Post in February 2022. Additionally, Esther served as a course assistant for Professor Michela Carlana in API-202: Empirical Methods – Quantitative Analysis, Causal Inference, and Prediction. In the interim between her two years at Harvard, she worked as a Gender and Program Evaluation Advisor for Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

For her master’s thesis, Esther wrote a report for the World Bank that analyzed the factors contributing to child stunting in Sindh, Pakistan, and provided policy recommendations. Titled “Unlocking Potential: A Roadmap to Reduce Stunting in Sindh, Pakistan,” her thesis received the award for the best thesis of her graduating class.

Franklin Harris

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Frank Harris graduated from Colorado State University with a BSc in Forest biology and a BA in Philosophy. For the last two years, Frank has been enrolled in the Environmental Changes at Higher Latitudes program at the Agricultural University of Iceland and Lund University, where he completed his thesis in late June. With a focus on microbial ecology, Frank is now moving on to a PhD at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands.”

Isak Rúnarsson

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Helgi Sigtryggsson

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Helgi Sigtryggsson earned a BS in Mathematics from the University of Iceland in 2021. Following graduation he worked in the Icelandic software and technology industry for more than a year before starting graduate studies in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. At Carnegie Mellon, Helgi has been focusing on software systems. Currently he is interested in large scale distributed systems. He has been working on a research project in the area of distributed systems and computer networking focusing on resource discovery and in dynamic and contested environments.

Cody Skahan

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Cody Skahan graduated from Kansas State University in 2021, and is completing his masters in Anthropology at the University of Iceland where he will finish in the spring of 2024. To partner with his thesis, he is also producing a documentary on the role of Ungir Umhveriffisnnar within the Icelandic environmental scene, focusing on the behind the scenes work of what it takes to be a young environmentalist. He is particularly interested in applying psychoanalysis and cultural studies to the blurring of boundaries of activist life: the split between their personal life and the activist identity, the split between activist and researcher, and the split between activists and the rest of the “public“ in a country where anonymity is impossible and word travels fast.

Orri Smárason

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Orri Smárason is a PhD student in clinical child and adolescent psychology at the University of Iceland. His research primarily focuses on pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder and related conditions, as well as anxiety disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders. In 2023 he was a visiting researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences where he participated in several research projects within the field of pediatric clinical psychology.

In addition to the Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship, Orri has received scholarship awards from the Fulbright Foundation, Erasmus+ Foundation, and the University of Iceland Doctoral Fund.
After his visit at the Baylor College of Medicine he has accepted and adjunct faculty position there, as well as a postdoctoral position at the University of Iceland.

Timothy (Liam) Waters

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Timothy Liam Waters is a PhD candidate in the Department of Scandinavian and Program in Medieval Studies at UC Berkeley. He received his BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic from the University of Cambridge in 2017 and his MA in Scandinavian Studies from UC Berkeley in 2019.

During his time at Berkeley, Liam’s research and training has included medieval and ancient literature, medieval and modern languages, and a diverse array of literary theory. As an instructor, Liam has taught undergraduate courses on topics such as the representation of myth in modern media, Viking-Age travel literature, and Old Norse language.

His current research interests focus on the study of the fantastic in Old Norse literature, New Materialism, post-Humanism, and the construction of space in the mythological and legendary corpuses. His work on mythology and the materiality of the body is published in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 18 (2022). His dissertation “Mythological Space as a Tertiary World: Place, Emplacement, and Fantasy in the Old Norse Mythological Corpus” centers around these interests, particularly the ways in which imagined environments and material nuance our understanding of medieval mentalities.

Caroline Weiss

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Caroline earned a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. At the University of Iceland, she is in the process of completing a Masters in Environment & Natural Resources, focusing on renewable energy policy, environmental advocacy, and sustainable resource management.

Jonathan Wood

Scholarship Years: 2022 – 2023

Jonathan Wood holds a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and has focused his legal and academic career on Arctic issues of law and governance by pursuing a Master’s of Law (LLM) from the University of Akureyri and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Iceland. Jonathan’s doctoral dissertation is focused on the viability and importance of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) as a form of governance within the Arctic region since its foundation in 2013. Through issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the current hostilities in Ukraine, the dissertation will analyze the challenges and successes of the AEC despite these obstacles and explore possible threats to it as the AEC began its new Chairmanship under Norway in May 2023, taking over from the Russian Federation during a time of heightened geopolitical tensions.

Robyn Barrow

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Robyn Barrow is a PhD Candidate in medieval art. She studies art and exchange in medieval Scandinavia. Before beginning her doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, Robyn received a BA from Rhodes College in the History of Art and an MA in medieval art from the Courtauld Institute in London. Her research interests include relationships between neighbors in the Far North and the ways materials create meaning in different networks of belief and ecological zones.

Jacob Bell

Scholarship Years: 2022

Jacob Bell is a PhD Candidate in Medieval History at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He received his BA in History and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 and his MA in History from the University of Illinois in 2019. His research focuses on slavery and the forced migration of enslaved individuals across the North Atlantic world during the early Middle Ages (750-1050 CE), especially focusing on the settlement of Iceland and its place in historic memory.

His dissertation, “Unfree Mobility and Making of the North Atlantic World, ca. 750-1250 CE,” contends that to truly understand “global” aspects of the Middle Ages, we must recognize that the medieval world was connected through the movement of enslaved people—they were historical actors in their own right, unwilling participants in a global culture of unfreedom, and the people whose descendants would ultimately create the states and nations of later centuries. By building their histories from the bottom up, we can begin to see the contours of budding interconnection and exchange that created our own modern moment.

Due to the generous support of The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, he was able to pursue research for his dissertation at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum (Árni Magnússon Institute for Manuscript Studies) at Háskóli Íslands (The University of Iceland) in Reykjavik.

Riley Book

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

As a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Kristian Book studies processes that drive variation in the structure and function of ecological communities. At Mývatn, Iceland, she paired observational surveys and experiments to investigate the influence of disturbances such as cyanobacterial blooms and wind events on benthic algal communities, with a focus on the role of these events in shaping nutrient availability in the ecosystem.

Jón Kristinn Einarsson

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Jón Kristinn Einarsson is completing an MA degree in European History, Politics and Society at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) at Columbia University. He did his BA in History at the University of Iceland, including a year abroad at McGill University in Montréal in 2017–2018. His BA thesis was on emergency help in Iceland during the Laki Eruption of 1783–1784. It will be published in book form by the Icelandic Historical Society in fall 2022.

At Columbia, Jón is writing his MA thesis on the political economy of the 1792 abolition of the Danish Slave Trade. Using recent developments in the historiography of both the rise of abolitionism, and Scandinavian political economy, Jón will aim to explain the decision of Danish statesmen to make Denmark the first European country to abolish its slave trade by contextualizing it within Scandinavian economic thought.

In addition to Leifur Eiríksson, Jón has recieved scholarships from the Fulbright Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Columbia University, and the Memorial Fund of Björn Þorsteinsson.

Hörður Helgason

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Hörður Bragi is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in computational hydrology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He holds a BS from the University of Iceland and MS from the University of Washington in Civil Engineering.

Since earning his MS degree in 2016, Hörður has worked in water resources and hydropower in Iceland, focusing mostly on hydrological modeling of snow and glacier melt-dominated catchments. His current research focuses on developing new data-driven methods to model and predict glacier melt, snowmelt and streamflow. His goal is to improve the accuracy and fidelity of streamflow forecasts as well as future projections under climate change. His dissertation research is supported by the Leifur Eiriksson Fellowship.

Saga Morris

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Saga Helgason Morris graduated in 2022 from Stanford University with a MA degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian studies. She holds a BA degree in Russian and has completed one year of the MA program in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland. She spent a summer in Moscow at the Pushkin Language Institute to further her language skills and familiarise herself with the culture. She has worked as an intern at the Arctic Institute and been part of Islandsbanki’s sustainability team, one of Iceland’s three leading banks.

Saga is passionate about Arctic geopolitics, media and content policy of technology platforms, especially as it pertains to censorship and propaganda. At Stanford, Saga worked on a project that delved into the censorship and propaganda tactics employed by Russia both domestically and abroad, with special attention paid to the war in Ukraine.

Her MA thesis is a comparative study and focuses on media coverage of Russia’s activities in the Arctic. Her analysis examines selected news articles from established legacy media in the United States, Germany, Norway and Iceland to uncover the national nuances of how Russia is perceived and portrayed in the Arctic by different stakeholders in the region.

Theo Northcraft

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Theo Northcraft (they/he) is earning their MA in Medieval Icelandic Studies at Háskóli Íslands in Reykjavík and holds an MA in English literature from the University of Toledo in Ohio. Theo uses the emergent field of transgender theory to analyze premodern literature of the North Atlantic region. While in Iceland, Theo completed a research project on stories of 13th century Iceland, including the Poetic Edda’s “Þrymskviða” and the romance Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonnar.

Primarily, Theo is interested in moments when a narrative fissures around character(s) who modern audiences would identify as transgender, non-binary, queer, or gender fluid. Narrative fissures, which can manifest as errors in grammatical gender or significant deficiencies in verisimilitude, reveal the tension between premodern Scandinavians’ attempt to include LGBTQ+ activities in their stories and the tendency that LGBTQ+ activities have to radically disrupt, confuse, and reconfigure social and literary expectations.

Theo is currently using the skills they learned at Háskóli Íslands to continue their research as they earn a PhD in English literature.

Guðny Ragna Ragnarsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Gudny Ragna Ragnarsdottir received her B.A. and M.A. law degrees from the University of Iceland but spent two semesters as an erasmus student during her Masters – One in Italy and another in Sweden. After graduating she worked for a year at the EFTA Surveillance Authority in Brussels in the Competition and State aid directorate followed by a 4 month traineeship at the EFTA Court in Luxembourg.

After completing her traineeships in Brussels and Luxembourg, Gudny went on to work as a corporate associate at Advel Attorneys at Law and as a corporate lawyer at Iceland´s tax authorities. In 2020 she passed the Icelandic bar exam and obtained a license to be able to work with Securities Transactions in Iceland.

Kári was awarded the support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation in relation to attending the LLM program at Columbia Law School with a concentration in Corporate Law – Both with Securities/Banking law and Competition Law, class of 2022.

In May 2022 Gudny completed her LLM degree at Columbia Law school and she is currently preparing to take the NY bar exam to become licensed to practice law in the State of New York in addition to her license to practice law in Iceland.

Njáll Skarphéðinsson

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Númi Sveinsson

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

Numi Sveinsson is a Ph.D. student in biomechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. After completing his B.S. in mechanical engineering at the University of Iceland in 2019 with the highest GPA in the program’s history, he enrolled in a biomedical engineering Ph.D. program at Boston University before transferring a year later to U.C. Berkeley. Numi is now a part of the Prof. Shadden lab, the Biomechanical Engineering Computational Laboratory. The lab’s research is on patient specific computational blood flow simulations. Specifically, Numi’s interests lie in automatic generation of blood vessel models directly from medical image data using machine learning. If the project proves successful, patient specific blood flow simulations could be run in close to real time. That would allow for easy access to detailed, important information on blood flow in clinical settings, requiring solely medical images of patients.

In addition to his project, Numi works closely with Professor Alison Marsden at Stanford University as well as contributing to SimVascular, an open-source software package for patient specific blood flow simulations (simvascular.com). He is also on the team developing the Vascular Model Repository, a fully open and accessible library of computational cardiovascular models (vascularmodel.com).
Numi has received multiple awards ranging from scholarships from University of Iceland, Stanford University and Boston University as well as the honor of delivering the graduation speech for the undergraduate class of 2019.

Numi’s interests also include the intersection of engineering, machine learning and sustainability. Rooted in his long history of human rights work and student activism, he wishes to utilize his academic ability to contribute to solving humanities greatest problems such as inequality and climate change.

Theodore Teichman

Scholarship Years: 2021 – 2022

You would probably recognize me as the person lying in the mud with a microphone pressed into the ground. In my practice and life, I am interested in understanding time and its materialization. I employ the lens of transcorporeality and a practice-based approach to investigate and reflect on questions of ecological restoration, urbanization, and social change. The microphone and the camera are particular ways of encoding time and these are some of my most preferred tools for studying time. However, the landscape and the body as well are ways to encode time in the same way: taking time and making it material.

I am currently based out of the Agricultural University of Iceland and I am a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate at the University of Virginia. I hold a Bachelor of Science and Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in interdisciplinary arts-based research integrating neuroscience, environmental studies, and sonic arts and was a 2018-2019 Fulbright Research Fellow in soundscape studies and practice with the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts for my project Listening Against (the) “Transition” and the social-practice project Workshop for Listening. At present, I am living in Hvanneyri, Iceland as a Fellow with the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation for my multimedia project: Soil Stories, Land Healers, and Dwelling in Damaged Worlds.

Óskar Arnórsson

Scholarship Years: 2020 – 2021

Óskar Örn Arnórsson is a PhD candidate in Architectural History and Theory at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). After undergraduate studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture in Copenhagen (KADK) and the Cooper Union in New York, Oskar practiced architecture in New York at Situ Studio and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. After five years of practice, he embarked on an academic career, first at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)’s Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices (CCCP) Program.

At the CCCP, he completed an award-winning thesis on the renovation of the United Nations headquarters in New York, bringing together architecture and contemporary geopolitics. Through work in mixed media—drawings, models, presentations, and text—he showed how the renovation of 2015 paradoxically reinforced the universalist ideals of the late forties and early fifties, while adopting new ones—those of security, sustainability, and accessibility, covertly through the details—inside of soffits, mullions, and picturesque buffer zones.

This interest in how architecture governs internationally has carried on into his dissertation work. As a teenager walking around the post-industrial areas of Reykjavik, he would frequently learn that this or that building was a remnant of the Marshall Plan and the US military occupation of the country after WWII. They hinted that there must be buildings like that across the continent, erected by Europeans at the Americans’ behest, covertly guiding Europeans through new standards of comfort, life expectancy and economic growth. This provided him with an excellent object through which to study how architecture governs across borders. The Leifur Eiriksson Foundation Fellowship will enable Oskar to travel use Iceland as a base of operations as he travels to archives in the United State, Germany, France, and Greece.

Birna Ásbjörnsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2021
Birna Asbjornsdottir received her MS.c. in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey, UK. In addition, Birna studied Evidence-Based Health Care at Oxford University in the UK. She conducted a vast research project (n-65.000) on the effect of pre-, pro-, and synbiotics on infections and communicable diseases in children and adults. In August 2018, Birna started her Ph.D. studies in Health Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Food Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Iceland. Her research project is on mental health in children and adolescents in Iceland, focusing on nutrition, the intestinal microbiota and intestinal permeability. At the beginning of her studies, she was offered an internship at the prominent Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center (MIBRC) at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Harvard Medical School, in Boston for one year. Her project involved further studying the digestive tract applying the Zonulin transgenic mouse model to examine the gut-brain axis. This experiment became the highlight of her research, providing valuable information on the intestinal microbiota, intestinal permeability, inflammation, and brain function and behavior.

Birna has received fellowships from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the Erasmus + Foundation, and the Nutricia Foundation. Due to the generous support from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Birna was able to stay for a whole year at the MIBRC. Birna appreciates the opportunities that the Foundation has provided. The interdisciplinary expertise she gained during her internship is essential for building strong connections in the scientific community.

Birna has already received a postdoctoral position at the University of Iceland for the following steps, which she will start next year after her defense. Birna has also been offered a Visiting Researcher position at the MIBRC at Harvard Medical School. She is excited to continue her research in collaboration with the joint investigator team. Because of the internship funded by the Eiriksson Foundation, Birna was able to gain vast experience and expertise in her field, i.e., the digestive tract and mental health and disorders, leaving her with an extraordinary “niche” in her field.

Ceilidh Burdick

Scholarship Years: 2020 – 2021

Ceilidh Burdick is an M.A. student at Háskóli Íslands (University of Iceland) in Reykjavík in the Viking and Medieval studies program. She holds a B.A. in History with a concentration in European history and Public History (museums studies), as well as a B.A. in Art and Design with a focus on painting and Art History, both from Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. For her undergraduate thesis, she wrote about the roles and identities of women in the Viking Age, and is continuing on this theme for her master’s degree. It is her goal to further research the concept of identity in the Viking Age, especially as new information, technology, and concepts become available. Between the written and archaeological records, examining all the various activities of life in ancient Scandinavia (farming, trade and crafts, religion, and burial) of men and women, and the relationships created at home and abroad, only then can we grasp entire picture of “Viking” identity. She hopes to encourage public interest in understanding of the under-addressed aspects of Viking Age Scandinavia and ancient Europe. Due to the generous support from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Ceilidh was able to begin her master’s degree in Iceland where many of Scandinavia’s ancient literature was compiled, and experience the climate and landscape similar to those who wrote the sagas.

Einar Bjarki Gunnarsson

Scholarship Years: 2020 – 2021

Einar Bjarki Gunnarsson is a Ph.D. student in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He completed a B.Sc. degree in mathematics from the University of Iceland in 2010 and a postgraduate diploma in teaching studies from the same university in 2011. He taught mathematics at Reykjavik Junior College in 2011-2013 and worked as a modeling specialist and division head at the City of Reykjavik Office of Finance in 2013-2017 before starting his Ph.D. work in 2017.

Einar develops and analyzes mathematical models of cancer evolution. His dissertation projects range from studying the spatial dynamics of cancer initiation in multilayered tissue to studying how transient non-genetic mechanisms, which temporarily affect the expression of cancer-associated genes, can drive permanent resistance to treatment. The common goal of these projects is to develop a rigorous framework for understanding how cancer initiates and evolves over time, and to build mathematical tools for inferring the evolutionary history of individual tumors from data and for predicting their response to treatment. This in turn facilitates the design of optimal treatment strategies.

The Leifur Eiriksson Foundation supported Einar’s dissertation work in 2020-2021. He previously held a University of Minnesota College of Science Engineering Graduate Fellowship in 2017-2019, and he will hold a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in 2021-2022.

Tómas Jóhannesson

Scholarship Years: 2020 – 2021

Tomas Johannesson is a Computer Scientist completing a Master’s in Computer Science degree at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds BSc degrees in Computer Science and Business Administration at Reykjavik University. After finishing his Computer Science degree, he joined Reykjavik University’s newly founded Fintech Center as its first Task Manager. Interested in how Artificial Intelligence could be used to reduce financial risks he decided to pursue further graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University. At Carnegie Mellon University he has studied Artificial Intelligence and systems designs which could help reduce financial risk. In one project he worked on implementing a parallel version of Kernel Principal Component Analysis, an algorithm which has been used in stock prediction and risk assessment. The parallel implementation outperformed prior sequential implementations. Work is underway to include the algorithm in RAPIDS cuML, which is a machine learning library incubated by NVIDIA.

Mahel Hamroun

Scholarship Years: 2021
Mahel Hamroun is a doctoral candidate in History and Medieval Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a B.A. in European Studies and a B.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Delaware in 2013, as well as an M.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. Her dissertation explores notions of guilt in medieval Iceland, with particular interest in the rhetorical conceptualizations of sin, culpability, and criminality. Through the generous support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, she spent one year at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík, where she conducted research on a variety of legal and ecclesiastical administrative documents and books of secular and canon law. Her research interests more broadly center on the history of emotions, conceptual history, and the legal and social Church.

Amber Monroe

Scholarship Years: 2020 – 2021

Amber Monroe received a B.Sc. in 2016 from Georgia Southern University. She studied Biology with a minor in Business and conducted two research projects on hydroponics and aquaponics systems. For the following two years, she worked as an agriculture teacher and substitute teacher. During her school’s spring break of 2017, Amber visited Iceland on a whim and fell in love with the beauty of the country.

At the end of 2017, Amber applied to the M.Sc. program in Aquatic Biology and was accepted to Hólar University for the 2018 – 2019 school year. She studied the effects of water quality on the growth of lumpfish. Lumpfish are popular as a method of biologically delousing salmon cages, but there is still much to be learned about the species. Thanks to the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, she was able to add a second experiment on how CO2 affects the growth of lumpfish to her research. This experiment became the highlight of her research and provided valuable information about water quality parameters for lumpfish production. Amber defended her master’s thesis in June 2021 and the committee passed her with distinction.

For the next steps, Amber has started an indoor aquaponic vertical farm called Ísponica in Hólar. She is so excited to see what the future holds. Because of the M.Sc. research funded by the Foundation, Amber was able to increase her knowledge of water chemistry and fish welfare (both of which are highly important for this new chapter with Ísponica). Amber appreciates the opportunities that the Foundation has provided for her M.Sc. as well as how the knowledge she gained as a student will help build her future.

Corrie Nyquist

Scholarship Years: 2021
Corrie Nyquist is a PhD candidate in the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology. They graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2016 with a B.A. in both Environmental Science and Biology. Corrie is broadly interested in the effects of temperature on invertebrates within freshwater ecosystems, including how temperature is involved in shaping community composition, species distribution, and with climate change, how warming temperatures affect Arctic rivers and cold-adapted organisms. Her dissertation investigates the biology of a family of aquatic flies known as chironomids. Chironomids are found globally from the Arctic to Antarctica and include species that are specifically adapted to cold conditions and winter-emergence. These flies, although tiny, are an important member of aquatic food webs and in Iceland, can make up the majority of insect biomass emerging from freshwater environments. Corrie’s interest in these flies has taken her from the cold, groundwater-fed streams of the Minnesota Driftless Region to hot springs in Southwestern Iceland. Over the summers of 2018 and 2019, she studied the effects of climate change on chironomids emerging from cold and geothermally heated Icelandic springs. Corrie was a recipient of 2020-2021 fellowships from the Leifur Eiríksson and American-Scandinavian Foundations and a 2020-2021 Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Fellow. With the aid of these fellowships, she conducted one of the first formal investigations of winter-active chironomids in Iceland. Corrie collaborated with scientists at the University of Iceland and Marine and Freshwater Research Institute to document and describe winter-active chironomids and to investigate how climate change will affect their biology.

Nicholas Robinson

Scholarship Years: 2021
Nicholas is a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of California, Davis and he was a visiting researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Iceland from 2019 – 2021 while completing his dissertation field work. Broadly rooted in the geography of agriculture and food, Nicholas’s research focuses on social-ecological interactions within agrifood and land-based systems of production, reproduction, and regeneration. He is conducting a comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of horticultural production in Iceland. Within the context of rapid climate change in the subarctic, his dissertation investigates the relationships between diversification and adaptation in horticultural production systems, the development of incipient alternative food networks, comparative methodologies for vegetable and fruit production, farmer management of soil fertility and biology, the subsidization and regulatory regime surrounding horticultural production, and the complex socioeconomic and political dynamics surrounding the generational transition to beginning horticultural farmers in Iceland.

Kristín Ríkharðsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2021
Kristín Helga Ríkharðsdóttir is a visual artist and an MFA student in Studio Art at New York University Steinhardt. She is a studio artist who focuses on narrative and unexpected uses of familiar imagery. She completed a BFA degree in Fine Art from The Iceland University of the Arts in 2016, with an exchange semester at the Berlin University of the Arts. Kristíns’ art has been exhibited in various places in Iceland, Europe, South- and North America. Her film “IN IT – to win it” won the Experimental Short award at Oaxaca FilmFest and Best Experimental Movie at West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival.

Her music video for “Date me – I’m bored” with Special-K, an Icelandic musician was nominated for the best music video of the year at the Iceland Music Awards 2019. In 2020 Kristín was one of two art students awarded a grant from the Educational Grant of Guðmunda Andrésdóttir that is awarded every second year to two chosen outstanding and ambitious graduate students in Visual Art.

Along with being an artist, Kristín has been involved with cultural work. She was a member of the alternative board of the Living Art Museum 2018-2020, a curator in Harbinger project space in Reykjavik in 2019, and has been a member of Kling&Bang, an artist-run gallery and collective in Reykjavik, since 2020.

At New York University, Kristín is an adjunct professor in Video-Art, teaching BFA students at NYU. After graduation, Kristín has been offered an adjunct professor position, teaching Conceptual-Photo at New York University.

The Leifur Eiriksson Grant helped her finance the tuition of her MFA studies at the New York
University Steinhardt.

Greta Wells

Scholarship Year: 2020

Greta Wells is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas-Austin. She earned a B.A. from Colby College in 2011 with a double major in Geology and French Studies. Her research interests broadly focus on landscape change in Arctic and alpine environments. Her dissertation investigates glacial lake outburst floods (known in Icelandic as jökulhlaups) that drained across southwestern Iceland at the end of the last ice age. Her project uses field mapping, hydraulic modeling, and geochronological analyses to reconstruct the timing, magnitude, and landscape impact of these floods, linking them with Icelandic ice sheet dynamics at a critical period of climate warming. These events may also be an analogue for contemporary glacial outburst floods, which are an increasing risk in glaciated regions worldwide due to climate-driven meltwater lake expansion.

The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship enabled Greta to conduct a final summer of dissertation field work, mapping jökulhlaup geomorphologic evidence and collecting rock samples for flood dating analysis along the Hvítá River. She was a 2019-2020 Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Fellow at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland, where she is continuing collaboration for her Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship.

Michael Galloway

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020
Michael Galloway received a B.Sc. in 2015 from the University of New England (UNE), Biddeford, Maine campus, completing a double major in Marine Biology and Aquaculture & Aquarium Sciences. While attending UNE he worked as a research technician in the Marine Sciences department, assisting in marine ecology-based research with a focus on stable isotope analysis as a tool for modeling food web dynamics in the Gulf of Maine. In the aquaculture department he was a fish culturist and lab manager in the Biology departments teaching laboratories, conducting and supervising student led experiments with a focus on husbandry techniques and proper aquaculture management. As an undergraduate, he worked as an Aquatic Life Support Operator managing UNE’s three, 10,000-gallon pools retrofitted for fish production and research. During his Summer before senior year of college he sought out experience in aquaculture, working as a seasonal fish culturist at the Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau, Alaska, where he took part in the egg-take process (milting, zipping, and sorting) and rearing of Pacific chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta). Furthermore, he led an Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators (AALSO) student study group in his free time at UNE and is a level 2 certified Life Support Operator with experience in aquaculture engineering.

Currently, Michael is pursuing his master’s degree in Fish Biology, with a focus on Behavioral Ecology, at Hólar University in Northwest, Iceland. His research is focused on the effect of water current velocity on diel activity patterns and foraging of juvenile Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), and the associations between phenotypic drivers (i.e. metabolic rate and behavior variation) among individuals tested in the laboratory. Thanks to the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Michael was afforded the opportunity to travel, live and conduct field and laboratory research in Skagafjörður, Iceland.

Geirþrúður Gudmundsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Icelandic-American cellist Geirþrúður Anna Guðmundsdóttir was born into a musical family in Reykjavík in 1994. She made her debut in 2013 with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and graduated with a soloist diploma from the Reykjavík College of Music the same year. She went on to study with Prof. Hans Jensen at Northwestern University and completed her bachelor’s degree in 2017. She served as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago during their 2017-18 season and recently graduated with a master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied Prof. Natasha Brofsky.

She has been a prize winner at numerous competitions, including the Iceland Symphony Orchestra Young Soloist Competition, the Thaviu String Competition, The Evanston Music Club Competition, the Musicians Club of Women Competition, the WDAV Young Chamber Musicians Competition, and the Dover String Quartet Competitition. Additionally, she has received fellowships from the Jean-Pierre Jaquillat Memorial Foundation, the Valitor Foundation in Reykjavík, the Rotary Foundation in Iceland, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Society, and the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation. She has performed solo and chamber music recitals across the United States and Iceland and has appeared as a soloist with several orchestras in Iceland. Her festival appearances include Ecole d’Art Américains de Fontainebleau, Valley of the Moon Music Festival, the Holland International Music Sessions, Banff Masterclasses, and the Pinchas Zuckerman Young Artist Program. She has also appeared as artist-in-residence at the Harpa International Music Academy, the Young Icelandic Chamber Musicians Festival, and the Mineral Point Chamber Music Festival. Geirþrúður plays on a Pierre Silvestre cello from 1857.

Georg Hilmarsson

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Georg Kári Hilmarsson is a composer and musician based in Boston, Massachusetts. Georg graduated from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts in 2013 and pursued his graduate studies at Mills College in California, working closely with renowned composers Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, and Roscoe Mitchell. Georg graduated with honors in 2015 from Mills College and received the Paul Merrit Henry Award for excellence in composition for stringed instruments. The same year he was rewarded with Yrkja Grant from the Icelandic Music Information Centre. In 2019, Georg was rewarded the Leif Eiriksson Foundation Scholars grant for his continuing studies and coming projects.

In 2016 he joined Boston University as a doctoral fellow where he studies under the supervision of Joshua Fineberg. Georg has had the privilege to have lessons and masterclasses with composers Philippe Leroux, Rant Steiger, Liza Lim, Hans Abrahamsen, George Lewis, Pierluigi Billone, Peter Ablinger, and Fred Lerdahl, among others.

Georgs works have been programmed at the Salisbury Arts Festival, Summer Dream Choir Festival, Composit Festival, Chorus festival at the Southbank Center, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Nordic Music Days, Dark Music Days, as well as the Center for Contemporary Music in San Francisco and the Berkeley Art Museum, and various concerts in Taiwan and Shanghai.
Among those who have premiered his work are Nordic Affect, TAK Ensemble, Cheng Yu-Wu, TimeArt Studio´s New Music Ensemble, Celli@Berkeley, Elena Gabrielli, The Reykjavik Cathedral Choir and the South Iceland Chamber Chorus (SICC).

Georg has also been active in the Icelandic music scene as a bass player, songwriter, and arranger, most notably with the band Sprengjuhollin.

Sigfus Kristinsson

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Sigfus Kristinsson is a PhD candidate in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina. Coming from a clinical background as a Speech-Language Pathologist, Sigfus’s research is focused on identifying biographical, neurological, and medical predictors of treatment response in post-stroke aphasia. The degree will put him in a strong position to develop a career as a clinically-oriented researcher within the field of aphasiology in an academic setting.

Olafur Olason

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Brúsi Ólason is an Icelandic film director, screenwriter and editor. Brúsi grew up on a farm just outside of the town of Selfoss in the south of Iceland. In 2015, Brúsigraduated from the University of Iceland where he majored in film studies and minored in creative writing. He completed an MFA in directing at Columbia University in New York in 2020. His short films have played at renowned film festivals such as Aspen Shortsfest, Toronto International Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, just to name a few. He has also found success as an editor, most notably as the editor of the feature film Materna, which won two awards at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in 2020. He was also featured in Europe Film Promotions’s Future Frames in 2020 as one of Europe’s most promising film school graduates with his thesis film Dalía .

Joshua Rivers

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Josh Rivers is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Located at the nexus of Queer Theory, Digital Anthropology, and Game Studies, Josh’s research ethnographically traces the manner in which one Icelandic video game development company, CCP Games, imbues a particular set of ethics into the architecture of its virtual world, EVE Online. Focused on understanding how institutional ethics inform and shape online digital game platforms, his dissertation explores moments of ethical import and their impact on virtual architecture. Such moments include CCP’s bi-annual interactions with its democratically-elected player oversight committee, the Council of Stellar Management, and its experiments with removing its virtual world’s ‘downtime.’ Against the backdrop of such moments at CCP Games, Josh’s dissertation explores, via ethnographic vignettes, how the quotidian practices of the Internet’s various ‘custodians’ shape our virtual lives in myriad obfuscated ways.

Funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation enabled Josh to move to Iceland for the 2019-2020 academic year, allowing him ethnographic access to CCP Games and the ability to conduct participant observation. Alongside his ethnographic fieldwork in Reykjavík, Josh has also been in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Iceland on various projects, including hosting a series of seminars on his research with a number of the department’s current graduate students.

Josh’s time in Iceland has served to lay the foundation for his ethnographically-based dissertation, while simultaneously crafting long-lasting relationships between American academia, Icelandic video-game developers, and Icelandic universities.

Magnus Snaebjoernsson

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Magnús Þór is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California-Davis. He holds a B.A. degree in Comparative Literature and History from the University of Iceland and an M.A. degree in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University.

His dissertation research was supported by the Leifur Eiriksson Fellowship. The dissertation focuses on contemporary literature of the Americas with a focus on literature written in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Focusing on literature written between 1980–2020, the dissertation treats the pessimism that characterizes this period while treating the socio-economic context in which the literature is written. Of particular importance to Magnús Þór’s research agenda is an emphasis on cultural developments in contexts marked by uneven economic development.

Camille Westmont

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Camille Westmont is pursuing a PhD in anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a Masters of Applied Anthropology degree and a Masters of Historic Preservation degree. Her research examines industrial landscape change over time as well as the cultural heritage of extractive industrial industries. She has previously studied at the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

With support from the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation, Camille was able to travel to Iceland to conduct research on northern Iceland’s Herring Era industrial fishing landscapes. Drawing on historical aerial images as well as ethnographic interviews, this work analyzed the role of the built industrial environment in enabling or inhibiting community resilience in the former herring towns of Siglufjörður and Húsavík. Camille also assessed how tangible and intangible forms of cultural heritage related to the herring industry are being incorporated into the region’s burgeoning tourism industry. The goal of this work is to better inform future redevelopment of post-industrial landscapes in ways that promote resilience and adaptive reuse.

Tiffany White

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Tiffany Nicole White is a Medievalist working towards her Ph.D. in the Department of Scandinavian and the Program of Medieval Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a BA in World Religions from Manhattanville College, an MAR in the History of Christianity from Yale Divinity School, and an MLitt in Viking and Medieval Scandinavian Studies from The University of Aberdeen. With the generous support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, she was a guest researcher at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, where she undertook dissertation research.

Tiffany’s research interests are centered on theological and hagiographic texts in Old Icelandic and the interpretation of the natural world found within. Her dissertation, “The Demonization of the Natural World: An Ecotheological Exploration of Old Icelandic Literature” evaluates the vernacular exegesis of theological texts concerning the natural world and the resulting influence on “secular” literature.

Crae Wilkins

Scholarship Years: 2019 – 2020

Sara Schaal

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Sara Schaal is an evolutionary ecologist pursuing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University Marine Science Center. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014. Her Ph.D. research focuses on understanding the genomic and phenotypic basis for the evolution of Atlantic cod ecotypes in the Gulf of Maine and Iceland. Her work intersects many fields including genomics, morphometrics, otolith microchemistry, bioinformatics and computational simulations. Using full body morphometrics, she will determine whether there is variation in body shape among cod populations which can identify behavioral differences between populations. In addition, otoliths (“ear stones”) capture the environment experienced by an individual much in the way tree rings do. She is using stable isotopes captured in these otoliths to reconstruct the temperature experienced by US and Icelandic cod. These data will be compared to genomic data allowing her to identify traits and environments that may be driving the evolution of ecotypes both within and across geographic locations.

In addition to understanding contemporary evolution, Sara has collected archeological Icelandic cod otolith samples in collaboration with Drs. Ragnar Edvardsson and Guðbjörg Ásta Ólafsdóttir of the University of Iceland Research Center in the Westfjords. Using these samples, Sara is reconstructing the temperature environment experienced by Icelandic cod over the past 1000 years. These data will allow her to better understand how temperature has influenced ecotype evolution over a much broader timescale.

Funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation has allowed Sara to conduct all her field sampling in Iceland. This included a month at sea on the bottom trawl surveys conducted by the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute in Iceland. These funds also allowed her to travel to the Westfjords of Iceland to take part in the archeological sampling of Icelandic cod otoliths. Finally, the funds partially funded both the genomics work and the otolith microchemistry on the ancient otolith samples

Ninna Palmadottir

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Ninna Pálmadóttir is an Icelandic director/writer and cinematographer currently pursuing an M.F.A degree in filmmaking at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
She grew up in a small town in north Iceland, surrounded by magnificent and raw nature that formed her style and personality in the arts. Ninna has written and directed several short films in Iceland and New York.
Ninna is deeply fascinated by the relationships of strangers and the gap that people forge between one another. Her ultimate goal is to tell stories about human connection and explore the raw emotions that unite different individuals.

Ninna was a participant of European Short Pitch with her thesis script ‘All Dogs Die’ and is a 2019 recipient of the Spike Lee Production Fund for the same project.
‘All Dogs Die’ finished principal photography June ‘19 in Iceland and awaits completion by October ‘19.
A feature screenplay based on the thesis short begins development fall 2019.

Thomas Kennedy

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Thomas Kennedy was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering in civil engineering with magna cum laude distinction and the Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2017. Soon thereafter, Thomas pursued a graduate degree in civil and environmental engineering with a geotechnical engineering concentration at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. During this time, Thomas served as a research and teaching assistant of Professor Russell A. Green and focused on the geotechnical aspects of earthquake engineering and soil and site improvement.

Thomas was offered the 2018-19 Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship to study the seismic site response characteristics of compacted gravel fill in Iceland. This material has been used for decades as the primary building subgrade foundation type throughout Iceland despite its unknown response behavior during earthquake shaking. While in Iceland, Thomas worked under the direction of Professor Benedikt Halldórsson at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, University of Iceland. The results were published and disseminated throughout the local geotechnical and seismological communities to serve as a useful tool to mitigate seismic risk throughout the Reykjavík capital region. In addition to research, Thomas is also interested in bicycle touring, Olympic weightlifting, yoga, and camping.

Hrafnhildur Marta Guðmundsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Hrafnhildur Marta Guðmundsdóttir, cellist, started her studies at a young age at Akureyri Music School. She later studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts with Sigurgeir Agnarsson and Gunnar Kvaran, and Morthen Zeuthen at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. In 2014, Hrafnhildur started her studies with Brandon Vamos, cellist of the Pacifica String Quartet, at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, with whom she earned her Master’s Degree as the recipient of the Premier Young Artist Award, Marcie Tichenor scholarship. Hrafnhildur has also performed in masterclasses and private lessons with teachers and coaches such as Johannes Moser, Alisa Weilerstein, Richard Aaron, Derrett Adkins, Amir Eldan, Marcy Rosen, Alex Kerr, Atar Arad, Emile Naoumoff and others.

Hrafnhildur has performed widely at music festivals and concerts in both Europe and North America in halls such as Finlandia Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin and Beethoven Haus Bonn, and performed as soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra as well as the North of Iceland Symphony Orchestra. She has earned numerous prizes for her playing, such as Rotary Music Prize, recognition from Minningarsjóður Jean-Pierre Jacquillat, Thor Fellowship and Leifur Eiriksson Fellowship. Hrafnhildur was a part of the Kuttner residency string quartet at Indiana University, which also won a residency at the Beethoven Haus in Bonn in 2018. The quartet has recorded short, unfinished sketches of unpublished works by Beethoven for Naxos that will be released in 2020 as a part of Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebration.

Solveig Einarsdottir

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Solveig Einarsdottir finished her B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Iceland in 2017. Before graduating, she spent the summer of 2016 as a research intern at the California Institute of Technology, modelling the effects of electrode spinal cord stimulation for patients with spinal cord injury.

The Leifur Eiriksson Foundation is now helping Solveig pursue her M.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, where she focuses on the analysis and design of analog circuits. She is mostly interested in their applications in the field of renewable power sources and medical devices. Other academic interests include mechatronic design and product management. In addition, she has studied Mandarin Chinese at Stanford alongside engineering.

Jodie Childers

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Jodie Childers is pursuing her PhD in English with a concentration in American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research examines transnational cultural exchange between Iceland and America. Through the support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Jodie was able to pursue multilingual dissertation research on the representations of America and American culture in Icelandic literature. She has a particular interest in novels by Halldór Laxness and Einar Kárason. During her time in Iceland, she presented her research on monuments of Leifur Eiríksson and other Viking explorers at the Nordic Association of American Studies Conference in Bergen.

Jodie is also a documentary filmmaker and writer and is currently completing a film about Pete Seeger’s environmental legacy. Her video work has been featured in the Woody Guthrie Annual among other publications. She has published essays on 20th century American political dissent, music, self-taught art, literature, and film. Her creative work has been published in the Portland Review, Eleven Eleven, Feral Feminisms and most recently the volume Appalachian Reckoning.

Grace Cesario

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Grace Cesario is a PhD candidate in Archaeology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation focuses on the use of wild animal resources during the Viking Age in Skagafjörður, north Iceland. Using zooarchaeology, or the study of animal bones from archaeological sites, she is examining the production of dried fish and their movement from coastal processing areas to inland sites, as well as specialized seabird consumption patterns. She has been working in Iceland since 2014 and has been part of the Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey (SCASS) since 2015, with excavations taking place on Hegranes for the past 4 years.

Thanks to funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Grace was able to move to
Iceland for the 2018-2019 academic year, where she worked on analysis. She collaborated with colleagues from the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum and Fornleifastofnun Íslands, as well as consulting with various specialists throughout the year. The funding also allowed her to travel to international conferences to present her research, take classes in Icelandic language, and take a course on turf construction, all of which were useful for her research.

Grace earned a BA in Anthropology and Italian from UC Davis in 2012, a Master’s in Anthropology from Hunter College in 2016, and her MPhil from The Graduate Center in 2019.

Kristinn Már Ársælsson

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Kristinn Már is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a BA in philosophy, an MA in sociology and a teaching diploma. Previously, Kristinn worked as a radio producer and presenter and as a team leader at the Environment Agency of Iceland.

His ongoing research agenda focuses on challenges facing democracies and ways to navigate them. His current research, utilizing various quantitative methods, focuses on political polarization, populism in the US and Europe, and deliberative citizen assemblies or “minipublics” — randomly selected groups of citizens who meet to deliberate on public issues. First, how did the feelings of Democrats and Republicans towards each other become among the coldest on record? Second, what are the varieties of populist voters in the U.S. and Europe and how do they feel towards minorities? Third, can minipublics help inform the — often uninformed and biased — larger electorate? Fourth, how do citizen assemblies form their preferences and proposals?

In a recently published paper, Kristinn Már and John Gastil show how publicly-circulated findings of deliberative minipublics can spark a more reflective motivation. To test that proposition, they conducted a survey experiment using information generated by one such minipublic during an election. Results showed that exposure to the minipublic’s findings improved the accuracy of voters’ empirical beliefs.

Support from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation allowed Kristinn Már to continue his research on democratic challenges and innovations. It also enabled him to join and start several other projects: on the development of political ideology in the US; the influence of co-operative firms on volunteering; and, lastly, on the relationship between religiosity and volunteering.

Roddy Akeel

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Roddy Akeel received his MS in Electric Power Engineering from Reykjavik University. Prior to studying in Iceland, he received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Virginia where he worked on a community kitchen resource solution for refugee camps which provided a cold food storage facility, clean water, and sustainable kitchen utilities.

His Master’s thesis was supported by the Leifur Eiriksson Fellowship and focused on predicting weather related transmission line failure risk for the Icelandic electric power transmission system. In conducting his research, Roddy utilized neural networks and other machine learning techniques to develop a model that would accurately identify weather conditions which have a high chance in causing transmission line failures. A tool such as this could be utilized in the control room for the Icelandic power grid to allow operators to have a better understanding of potentially hazardous weather conditions which will affect the system in the hours ahead. Operators can then be prepared to make the best possible decisions when mitigating any possible transmission line outages if and when they occur to prevent cascading blackouts and extended damage to transmission system components.

Christina Anaya

Scholarship Years: 2018 – 2019

Christina Anaya is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oklahoma State University, U.S.A. Her dissertation examines the ecology, distribution, and host-parasite interactions of the Phylum Nematomorpha, commonly known as hairworms. In Iceland, Christina’s project examined the biodiversity of parasites within marine and freshwater mollusks to provide baseline data for future parasite climate change studies. The goal of her work in Iceland was to provide a foundation for parasite presence and distribution data. This will provide a snapshot of the distribution of parasites that use snails throughout Iceland. With this data, Christina examined the feasibility of using marine and freshwater snails as biodiversity indicators to tell researchers about invading parasites that hitchhike on vagrant birds. Her research in Iceland has been supported by U.S. Student Fulbright/National Science Foundation Arctic Research Award and thanks to funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Christina was able to expand her research to include examining parasite distribution at an altitudinal gradient during the summer of 2018.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, Christina resided at Hólar University College in the Skagafjörður peninsula of northern Iceland. During this time, Christina traveled extensively throughout Iceland collecting freshwater and marine snails in various habitats. While conducting fieldwork, Christina was able to locate Nematomorphs, the focus of her Ph.D. dissertation and for the first time, Nematomorphs will be described from Iceland. Her funding was used to support field work throughout Iceland, support research assistants, and species analyses.

Christina holds a B.S. degree in Field and Wildlife Biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Christina will complete her doctorate in July of 2019 and will then begin a one-year teaching position at Northern Michigan University. She intends to apply for a postdoctoral position in Iceland.

Kevin Gibbons

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Kevin Gibbons is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Archaeoloeaagy at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on understanding patterns of livestock management and landscape change in Iceland from its Viking Age settlement to the early Modern period. Using zooarchaeological methods, Kevin explores variations in the shape and size of animal bones that provide information on sex, breed, climate, nutrition, stalling, and castration. These data thus offer evidence of human decision-making and paleoenvironmental conditions fixed together in a single source. His research aims to link three-dimensional morphometrical data from animal remains excavated from archaeological sites with existing tephrachronological data to investigate how humans decided to manage livestock and natural capital in the face of rapidly shifting vegetation regimes and eroding soils.

Kevin earned his M.Sc. degree in environmental archaeology and palaeoeconomy at the University of Sheffield in 2010 and a B.A. in anthropology at the University of Georgia in 2009. He is currently completing his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland while contributing to research for the National Park Service and teaching courses at American University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

David Már Stefánsson

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

David Mar Stefansson is a master’s degree student at the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York. He’s a part of the Film MFA program and his concentration is screenwriting with emphasis on TV writing. Before Columbia University, David Mar completed a BA degree in philosophy and creative writings from the University of Iceland and worked for a several years as a journalist for Morgunbladid.

David Mar had the honor of being chosen to be the Television Academy’s drama scriptwriting intern for the year 2017. The program brought him to Los Angeles for six months where he worked closely with Josephson Entertainment and got first hand experience of how the industry and Hollywood works. David Mar wrote treatments and script coverage and partook in pitch meetings with Warner Bros. and Sony. Still a student at Columbia University, David Mar is working on his graduation portfolio as well as writing a few student short films for his fellow Film MFA students, one of which recently got awarded the Jack Larson Award. “Rabbits”, a student film he wrote for a director from Kansas also received awards at the Tallgrass Film Festival, the New Hampshire Film Festival and the Asheville Film Festival last year.

Despite still being at school, David Mar has recently had the fortune of a getting exciting professional projects. He has been hired to write a television show based on popular Icelandic crime fiction, translate feature scripts and give script consulting. Most recently, David Mar is working on a script which bridges the gap between North America and Iceland. The script, which is a close collaboration with a couple of artists, is going to be pitched for a handful of prestigious productions companies in Los Angeles in July and August.

Adam Zimmer

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Adam Netzer Zimmer is a biocultural anthropologist pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is a member of the Violence & Conflict Laboratory run by Dr. Ventura Pérez, where he manages the Taphonomic Research Facility and acts as the Visual/Digital Content Editor for the peer-reviewed journal, Landscapes of Violence. He is also the lead instructor for the UMass Amherst Bioarchaeology & Forensic Anthropology Field School.

Adam’s research interests focus on the intersections of identity, policy, violence, and health in bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, and medicine. His dissertation project is on cadaver recruitment policies that enabled anatomical dissections in medical schools, focusing on the differences between Iceland and the United States in the late 1800s. This project has been funded by the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. As a part of this research, Adam has been examining human remains in both Iceland and the U.S. that were used for anatomical teaching. His goal is to ascertain who these individuals were in life and how their bodies have been transformed in death.

Funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation enabled Adam to conduct research on human remains housed in the National Museum of Iceland, as well as at Læknagarður Medical School. It also enabled him to collaborate with Icelandic scholars at the University of Iceland who are looking at more modern manifestations of inequalities in Nordic states and the subsequent health outcomes of these inequalities.

Kari Hólmar Ragnarsson

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Kári Hólmar Ragnarsson received his B.A. and M.A. law degrees from the University of Iceland. After graduating he practiced law at Réttur – Aðalsteinsson & Partners, a litigation-focused firm in Reykjavík, with particular strengths in the fields of constitutional and human rights law. Kári became a partner at the firm in 2011. In 2014-2015 he completed the LLM program at Harvard Law School with a concentration in international human rights.

Kári was awarded the support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation in relation to his ongoing pursuit of a doctorate (SJD) at Harvard Law School. The title of his dissertation project is “Socio-economic Rights and Neoliberalism After the 2008 Financial Crisis” and his main academic interests are law and political economy, comparative constitutional law and international and European human rights. The project focuses on the political-economic and distributional impact of different approaches to economic and social rights protections in constitutional and international law, with particular focus on European case-law on post-2008 austerity measures. Additionally, Kári teaches international human rights law at the University of Iceland.

Sant Mukh Khalsa

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Sant Mukh Khalsa had an international and multicultural childhood. She also spent her teenage summers working as a gardener. So naturally, as an adult, she decided that the only career for her was the travel and outdoors lifestyle of archaeology. Sant Mukh is a PhD candidate in Archaeology at The City University of New York’s Graduate Center, where she also received her MA and MPhil. Her research focuses on Icelandic and North Atlantic interactions with Europe during the development of Late Medieval political economies. Her primary research site, the Late Medieval Icelandic fishing station of Gufuskálar, is a collaboration between archaeologists and other scientists from the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization and Fornleifastofnun Íslands.

She specializes in metal artifacts and her dissertation investigates artifacts from Gufuskálar and the role of preindustrial European trade goods in Medieval Iceland. Gufuskálar has nearly three thousand excavated artifacts. Funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation has enabled Sant Mukh to work in Reykjavik, Iceland at Fornleifastofnun Íslands to catalogue metal artifacts from Gufuskálar, which make up more than half of the collection. This artifact catalogue will be the basis of her dissertation research data and will also provide a broader picture of Late Medieval Iceland and its interconnections with trading partners to the east.

Helga Kristín Auðunsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Helga holds an LL.M. in US and Transactional Law from the University of Miami where she was the recipient of the Cobb-Family Fellowship. Prior to that she obtained a Masters of Laws degree and a B.Sc. degree in Business and Law from Bifrost University. She has also studied law in Greece at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Helga is an Assistant Professor at Bifrost University in Iceland where her main academic fields to date have been company law, legal methods and legal innovation. She worked as Head of the department of law in the years 2012 to 2015. Previously she worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Miami School of Law where she taught European company law and European competition law. Prior to that she worked as an in-house lawyer for an investment company. Helga is currently leading a project funded by the EU on the developing of the blended learning approach in legal education, focusing on the intersection of law and business as well as developing the way universities cooperate and communicate with students. She is also an academic mentor and a judge in the Law Without Walls program, a global multidisciplinary consortium of law and business professionals, focusing on encouraging innovation in legal education and practice. Helga’s dissertation focuses on a comparative analysis of hedge fund activism in the United States and Europe.

Lauren Hamm

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Lauren Hamm graduated from the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus in 2016 with a BA specializing in medieval linguistics. Her studies focused on Anglo-Saxon poetry and grammar and she was awarded the 2014 Magellan Scholarship to complete an article on emotionality in the Anglo-Saxon poem “Deor”. She will be receiving her MA in Old Nordic Religion in Winter of 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Terry Gunnell at the University of Iceland. Her thesis focuses on the special connection between the female gender and prophetic magic in Viking Age religious practices. It will incorporate a heavy focus on medieval Icelandic literature as well as pre-Christian religion and gender studies. It will pay special attention to the role of fate and the accessibility which both female seeresses and beings such as the Nornir appeared to have access to.

The Leifur Eiriksson Foundation Fellowship allowed her to complete her studies at the University of Iceland and attain this MA. It also facilitated travel costs as a lecturer at the 2017 Southeastern Medievalists Association conference in Charleston, SC where she gave a lecture on the connection between music, chanting, and possible ecstatic states in Viking Age magical practices.

Eirik Westcoat

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Eirik received his joint MA/MPhil degree in Viking & Medieval Norse Studies from the University of Iceland and the University of Oslo, having completed a master’s thesis on the figure of the Old Norse poet as seen in the probable works of Snorri Sturluson.

With funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship, he continued his research into Icelandic poetic culture in his first year of study and research in a four-year doctoral program in Icelandic Literature at the University of Iceland. He is researching the kraftaskáld (‘power-poet’), an Icelandic folktale figure from primarily the 16th through 20th centuries. These poets were reputed to perform magic by means of extemporaneous poetic verses, for a variety of ends: vengeance against enemies, chanting down walking-corpses, influencing natural phenomena (such as wind and weather), and occasionally obtaining some of life’s necessities. Only a few of their many widely-scattered tales have ever been translated into English. Eirik will continue his PhD research at the University Of Iceland with a three-year doctoral studies grant from the university’s Research Fund.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Eirk also writes and recites poetry inspired by Old Norse mythology and religion, having self-published his first book of such poetry, Viking Poetry for Heathen Rites, in 2017.

Agnes Eva Þórarinsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Agnes Eva Þórarinsdóttir received a B.Sc. degree in chemistry from the University of Iceland in 2015. Upon graduation she moved to Evanston, Illinois to pursue a PhD in inorganic chemistry at Northwestern University. The inorganic chemistry program at Northwestern is one of the best in the world and Agnes’s dissertation research project focuses on the design and synthesis of transition metal compounds that function as temperature and pH sensors in physiological environments, and can be detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. The ability to accurately quantitate physiological biomarkers such as temperature and pH is of great importance for improving the diagnosis and treatment of many pathologies since changes in the cellular microenvironment are closely associated with diseases. The development of responsive chemical probes that are able to detect and spatially map physiological abnormalities with high sensitivity through noninvasive MRI techniques is therefore an attractive way to aid in the early detection of diseases, including cancer and ischemia, and enhance treatment efficiency.

Funds from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation enabled Agnes to continue to work on her thesis project, in particular start collaborations with MRI experts at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida and research scientists in pharmacology at Northwestern University to conduct biologically relevant imaging experiments and animal studies. Additionally, the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship supported Agnes in attending a national conference on inorganic chemistry where she presented a component of her research project and got the opportunity to interact with leading experts in her field.
Agnes is an awardee of the 2017 Chemistry Department’s Joseph Lambert Award for excellence in junior graduate research, serves on the chemistry graduate student board, and is heavily involved in improving the safety culture in chemical laboratories at Northwestern University through a student-led organization, RSSI, which she co-founded. Agnes will continue her PhD research at Northwestern University with Prof. Dave Harris, where she will be starting her 4th year in September 2018.

Krystal Mannion

Scholarship Years: 2017 – 2018

Krystal Mannion received a B.Sc. in 2015 from the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford, ME as the first student to complete a double major in Marine Biology and Animal Behavior. While attending UNE she worked as a research assistant in the Animal Behavior Laboratory, where she conducted research on topics exploring the influence of social environment on communication networks, female preference to male behavioral types, and the effects of pharmaceutical exposure on the behavior of Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) and used behavioral assays to study the effect of stimulus context on behavioral consistency in three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). She worked as a laboratory assistant in the Research and Evaluation Lab at DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau, Alaska where she sampled and dissected Pacific chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) for scale and otolith collection and analysis.

Krystal is pursuing her master’s degree in Fish Biology at Hólar University College in Northwest, Iceland. Her research focuses on the effect of food availability on diel activity patterns and foraging of juvenile Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in an Icelandic stream, and the relationship between phenotypic differences (i.e. behavioral variation) among individuals found in the laboratory. The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship enabled Krystal to travel to Iceland and conduct field and laboratory research in Skagafjörður, Iceland.

Pálína Jónsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Pálína Jónsdóttir was awarded the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing by the School of the Arts, Columbia University in May 2017. Upon her entry into the highly competitive three years program, Pálína was granted a generous scholarship and awarded a Student Fellowship in Directing for her outstanding achievement.

Pálína was honored with the Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship during her thesis year at Columbia University, enabling her to fulfill all requirements for her degree. During that year, Pálína interned with Robert Lepage and Kaija Saariaho at the Metropolitan Opera for their production L’Amour de Loin. Pálína’s thesis production, a stage creation of Isak Dinesen’s story Babette’s Feast ran successfully in the Connelly Theater in New York City in March 2017.

Pálína is a theatre director, actor and writer who started her performing career at a young age in The National Theater and The Reykjavík City Theater. Her alchemic compositions of audio-visual and physical theatre work draws from her expansive background in drama, dance, opera and music. Pálína holds a PGDip in Contemporary Dancing from the Conservatoire National Superior of Music and Dance in Lyon, France and she studied literature and philosophy in the University of Iceland. Pálína graduated from the Acting Program at The Icelandic Academy of the Arts and studied opera singing in The Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Arts and she holds a Diploma in Arts Education in Drama from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts.

Throughout her years of studies and professional work, Pálína has pushed the boundaries of artistic disciplines and sculpted her voice and vision as a theatre artist. With a critical point of view and vivid imagination, Pálína orchestrates her material to reach its highest artistic and intellectual potential to institute the subconscious reality of what compels human behavior.

Pálína has performed in artistically diverse projects for stage, films and performance art in Iceland, Europe and the US. Among Pálína’s theatre productions is Völva, commissioned by the Prologus Fund co-produced and performed at the National Theatre in Iceland, earning the Icelandic Gríma, Performing Arts Award and her production The Secret Face was curated and performed at the Here Arts Center in NYC. Pálína was commissioned by The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art to create The SeaMare – Tableau Vivant for Origins and she collaborated and performed in Still Life with Commentator commissoned for BAM in NYC. For Columbia Stages she directed A Dream Play by August Strindberg, The Three Sisters by Anton Checkhov and The Seven Deadly Sins by Bertolt Brecht. Her stage roles include Miss Julie in Miss Julie by August Strindberg, Solveg in Peer Gynt by Ibsen, and Snæfriður in The Icelandic Clock by Laxness. Her film credits include Devil´s Island, The Dance, In His Life – The John Lennon Story and Wildlife.

Kathryn Catlin

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Kathryn Catlin is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Northwestern University, with a subfield specialization in Archaeology. Her dissertation investigates how anthropogenic environmental change was related to social and economic changes that occurred in Iceland between the 9th and 19th centuries. In particular, she focuses on the archaeology of marginal medieval settlements in Hegranes in Skagafjörður, changes in the landscape around those sites, and the agricultural uses to which the sites were put in later centuries after habitation ceased. Her works has implications for the way modern human societies address the social and ecological challenges of climate change. She is part of the Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey, a team of Icelandic and American archaeologists investigating changes in society, religion, economy, and environment in medieval Skagafjörður. Kathryn has also carried out archaeological work in the eastern United States and in the southeastern United Kingdom. Her research in Iceland has been supported by a U.S. Student Fulbright grant and well as a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, and her work has appeared in the journals Anthropocene and Medieval Settlement Research and will soon appear in the Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association.

Thanks to funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, Kathryn was able to extend her dissertation fieldwork by one additional summer (2017), including the purchase of GPS equipment needed for archaeological survey. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Kathryn lived and worked in Iceland, where she worked closely with archaeologists and historians in Skagafjörður, consulted experts in Reykjavík, and carried out historical and archival research. She used some of her funding to take classes in Icelandic language, archaeology, vegetation and soil, and turf construction, all of which have been invaluable to her research.

Kathryn holds a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, an M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, an M.A. in Historical Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and an M.A. in Anthropology from Northwestern University.

Kari Hreinsson

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Kari Hreinsson graduated with a B.Sc. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Iceland in 2009. After a brief stop in the IT industry, he moved to Switzerland and finished an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering with focus on power system from ETH Zurich. With support from the Leifur Eiriksson foundation, Kari could pursue his PhD at Arizona State University, where his research within the field of electric power systems focuses on scheduling and optimization of electric grids. In particular, he is interested in better incorporating renewable resources through so-called “demand response”, which attemps to shape electricity consumption to better balance out fluctuations in other stochastic components of power systems, such as wind and solar generation.

Olivia Houck

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Olivia Houck is a Master’s student in the West Nordic Studies Program at the University of Iceland, where she has also received a Postgraduate Certificate in ‘Small States Studies’ and will be working for the United Nation University’s Gender Equality Studies Program and pursuing a Practical Diploma in the Icelandic Language during the 2017-2018 academic year. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Virginia in Architectural History and a Bachelor of Arts from the College of William and Mary. Her master’s thesis investigated a series of British travel narratives to Iceland in the second half of the nineteenth-century, and their representation, or lack thereof, of the built environment on the island.

The Leifur Eiríkisson Foundation has enabled her to continue this research on Icelandic architecture and the political, social, and cultural relationships of the island with the United States, France, and Britain during the twentieth-century. It has also facilitated the advancement of her research in two new and unexpected disciplines, that of international relations and political science, with a particular focus on international organizations. Due to this exposure, she has had the opportunity to intern with the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris during the 2017 summer. She hopes to continue her research on the intersections of geopolitics and architecture, focusing specifically on the modern Icelandic political, cultural, and diplomatic relations with North America and Europe in her doctoral studies.

Helga Guðmundsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Helga Guðmundsdóttir received a BA in law from the University of Iceland in 2013, an MA degree in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from the UN mandated University for Peace in 2014, a Mag.jur. degree from the University of Iceland in 2015, a Rhodes Oceans Scholar Diploma from the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy in 2015 and an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School in 2017. During her studies, Helga has largely focused on international law, in particular the law of the sea.

Receiving the Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship allowed Helga to pursue her studies at Harvard Law School.

Harpa Lind Jónsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Harpa Lind Jónsdóttir received her B.S. degree in Psychology from the University of Iceland in 2010. In 2011, she received a Fulbright scholarship to attend a Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at the University of North Dakota, where she earned her M.A. degree in Clinical Psychology in 2013, and will be earning her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2017.

Harpa is interested in aging research, neuropsychological assessment, and teaching. Harpa’s dissertation project examined health and well-being among older adults and was a part of a longitudinal research project, which was catalyzed in 2008 by Harpa’s advisor, Dr. Joelle Ruthig. More specifically, Harpa examined the impact of experiencing a fall on health, well-being, and survival among community-living older adults in the Midwest, and the role of protective psychosocial mediators. Harpa completed her internship at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Michigan, where she engaged in various clinical activities, such as neuropsychological assessment with older adults, and general neuropsychological and psychodiagnostic assessments with individuals across the age range. The Leifur Eiriksson scholarship program allowed Harpa to complete her Ph.D. program. More specifically, the scholarship allowed her to continue to work on her dissertation research project, engage in clinical activities, and attend a national conference for psychological sciences where she presented a component of her research project. Harpa will be starting her Postdoctoral Fellowship in Advanced Quantitative Methods in Mental Health and Clinical Neurosciences at Brown University in 2017. She currently lives in Providence, RI, with her fiancé and their cat.

Halla Hrund Logadóttir

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Halla Hrund Logadóttir is the former director of the Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavík University, where she continues to lecture on climate change, energy policy, and the Arctic. Previously, Halla worked on economic development in West Africa, on the “Aid for Trade Initiative” at the OECD in Paris and on international relations at Iceland’s Embassy in Brussels. Halla is also a co-founder of the Project Girls 4 Girls initiative which aims to empower girls around the world through a global mentorship network.Halla studied political science, economics and trade at the University of Iceland, at the London School of Economics, and at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. With the support of the Leifur Foundation, Halla earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Halla is currently an Arctic focused fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School, where she is developing an Arctic Initiative with the Belfer Center’s Environmental and Natural Resource Program, and Science and Technology Program. Her interests are in the Arctic sphere, and include energy policy and land conservation, as well as the social and economic well-being of the Arctic region. Halla serves as an advisor to Iceland’s Minister of Industry and Commerce on the country’s Energy Fund and she leads the Arctic Innovation Lab, which aims to engage more people in dialog around solutions for a sustainable and secure Arctic.

Chihiro Larissa Tsukamoto

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Chihiro Larissa Tsukamoto is a linguaphile, musician, and a lover of all things mythology. An avid supporter of human rights, she has a B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University and is a translator for Humanium, a children’s rights NGO founded in Geneva, Switzerland. As a pianist, Chihiro studied at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, the Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School, and has performed at the Haydn Hall of Esterházy Palace in Austria, the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Hungary, the Schumann House in Germany, and Jordan
Hall in Boston.

Combining her backgrounds in languages and the performing arts, Chihiro researched Viking Age music in Iceland by consulting sources written in Arabic, Greek, Latin, and Old Norse. As early medieval Scandinavians did not leave behind written descriptions of music in their own tongue, it was thus necessary to consult outside sources for contemporary accounts.

Chihiro is grateful for the support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, which allowed her to complete her M.A. in Medieval Icelandic Studies at the University of Iceland. She will continue her research at Yale University, where she has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in Medieval Studies. She is particularly interested in how music was used therapeutically during the Middle Ages, and plans to play medieval harp in hospitals and hospices. It is her hope that medieval music will be studied not just academically, but also as a valid medium with which to foster healing.

Arna Pálsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2016 – 2017

Arna Pálsdóttir received her B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Iceland in 2013. She started her PhD work at Cornell University later that fall. Her general interests lie in sustainable energy and mineral extraction and alongside her research she has participated in and assisted with teaching a number of courses on alternative energy and materials at the Cornell Energy Institute. Arna’s research is on sustainable lithium extractions from a range of sources. Lithium is used for rechargeable lithium ion batteries in many applications ranging from small portable electronics like cellphones to batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles. With the increased demand for rechargeable lithium ion batteries, the demand for lithium has risen steadily in the last few years. Extracting lithium can be time consuming and hazardous to the environment. Alternative resources and extraction methods have therefore been sought out and Arna’s research seeks to find ways to meet that demand.

Sara Nassim

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Sara Nassim was born and raised in Iceland, to an Iceland mother and a Persian father. Sara had the opportunity, through her mother who is an independent film producer, to be on film sets from a young age surrounded by talented filmmakers and gained a lot of experience from watching ideas transform into films. She is an aspiring producer who has accumulated an substantial amount of experience in the film industry over the past few years. Between 2011-2012, Sara was a producer at Pegasus Pictures a prestigious production company based in Reykjavik, Iceland. Since then, she has served as a freelance Production Coordinator on various big-budget productions such as HBO’s
GAME OF THRONES and Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH as well as working on many renowned Icelandic feature films.

In 2013 Sara was accepted to the graduate program at The American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles where she studied the Producing Discipline. Throughout her two and a half years as a producing fellow at AFI she produced numerous short films in which her involvement dealt with both the creative as well as the physical side of the productions. Her films have had international success in the festival circuit and have been shown at Palm Springs Short Fest, Nordisk Panorama, Atlanta Film Festival, US BAFTA and Montreal World Film Festival to name a few.

Sara was the Production Manager of the Icelandic/Danish film, SPARROWS, directed by two-time Cannes nominee Rúnar Rúnarsson and the Line Producer of Icelandic / Danish film HEARTSTONE.

As the recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship Sara was able to continue and finish her studies at AFI. The support has paved the way for her as a film producer in the US. She believes filmmaking is a way to emphasize the importance of specific subject matters and minority groups. Bringing forth situations or events that are often
overlooked such as women’s right, race, and religion. Richness in subtext combined with strong visual language in films can alter people’s views on integral elements of the human condition. Sara resides in Los Angeles and is currently in development on three feature films, one of which is set in Iceland.

Jessica Lueders-Dumont

Jessica photo
Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Jessica grew up in rural Vermont and spent her childhood exploring the streams and ponds of her home state. She graduated from Colby College (Waterville, ME) with degrees in Biology and STS (Science, Technology, and Society) in 2009, and then worked as a research technician in Idaho at the Stream Ecology Center on research focused on climate change, nutrient cycling, and salmon biology in Idaho’s rivers. She has also worked at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on projects focused on lobster behavior and also on the effects of closed areas on cod diet. She is currently a Ph.D student in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University where her research focuses on using the chemical composition in the organic matrix of fish otoliths, also known as ear stones, to obtain information about changes in Atlantic cod prey availability through time. She is using the chemistry of fish otoliths from modern, recent historical, and archaeological samples from commercial fisheries, government fisheries surveys, and from archaeological middens left by historical fisher-farmers, respectively. Going back in time, how have climate events over the last 500 years shaped the cod food web, and has commercial fishing altered the natural variability in trophic level of cod? Information in otolith “time capsules” will provide a treasure trove of knowledge about the past in order to better inform the future of cod in the North Atlantic.

Funds from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation provided Jessica with the freedom to work with researchers at the Marine Research Institute in Iceland on the modern aspects of this study. Additionally, these funds were used for travel expenses and to collaborate with scientists at the University of Iceland’s Research Center of the Westfjords regarding historical otoliths.

Jennifer Smith

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Jennifer Smith received her master’s degree in environmental resource management from the University of Akureyri in 2014. In research for her master’s thesis, Jennifer used a political ecology framework to explore the impacts of fisheries management regulations on Icelandic consumers’ access to fresh local fish.

Jennifer used the Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship to perform her first year of research of a three-year doctoral research project under the guidance of Dr. Catherine Chambers, a former Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship recipient, at Hólar University College and the Blönduós Centre for Research and Collaboration. Her research focuses on the social impacts of aquaculture growth in Iceland, assessing in particular the capacity of small, rural communities to accommodate a growing aquaculture sector and workforce. Jennifer lives in Ísafjörður, Iceland. She has also worked and studied in China and France, and holds a master of arts in international relations from Johns Hopkins University SAIS and a bachelor of arts in French literature from Reed College.

Guðmundur Stefánsson

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Guðmundur Stefánsson received his B.Sc. degree in Physics from the University of Iceland in 2013. After graduating, Guðmundur received a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the Pennsylvania State University. As a member of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State, Guðmundur works in the field of exoplanet detection and characterization through the development of new and improved astronomical instrumentation.

Guðmundur is a part of a team of astronomers and engineers building the Habitable Zone Planet Finder Spectrograph (HPF), an ultra-stable high-precision near-infrared Doppler spectrograph to be installed at the 10m class Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas in early 2017. The main goal of HPF is to discover and characterize exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zone around stars colder than our Sun. As a part of the HPF team, Guðmundur’s research has focused on fabricating and verifying the performance of various subsystems for the HPF Environmental Control System, responsible for temperature stabilizing HPF at the sub-milli-Kelvin level. Recently, the Penn State-led research team was selected by NASA to build another state-of-the-art spectrograph, NEID, for the 3.5m WIYN telescope in Arizona, to detect and measure the orbits of rocky planets in the habitable zone around Sun-like stars.

Funds from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundations have helped support Guðmundur in buying essential lab equipment, supplies, and specialized software necessary for his research. Additionally, the Leifur Eiríksson funds have have supported Guðmundur in traveling to a number of conferences, specialized research meetings and trainings. Guðmundur will continue his PhD research at Penn State as a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow

Jennifer Hughs

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Jen K. Hughes is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. She studies Icelandic storytelling and notions of value surrounding the 2008 economic crisis. Jen is interested in how the past in Iceland manifests in thinking about economic and cultural futures through language use and how these ideas have global impacts.

Since October 2015, Jen has been conducting ethnographic research in Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður and has begun principal photography and production on a feature-length documentary film about her work. In July 2016, Jen will conduct interviews and film in Laugar, Svartárkot farm and Kiðagil in the North before traveling to the Westfjörds to complete her research in Ísafjörður and Flateyri.

Jen is an awardee of the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowship (2015) as well as The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship (2015-2016), The American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship (2015-2016), and a University of Minnesota Thesis Research Travel Grant to continue her research in Iceland.

Jen worked as a Video Production Media Fellow for the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts from August 2013 to May 2015 and previously worked on research, digital media, exhibit and video projects for the Discovery Channel, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, The Film/Video Dept. of The Walker Art Center, the Eric Carle Museum for Picture Book Art, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR), and was most recently a researcher for Curiosity Retreats, LLC. Her video footage and interviews have been featured on Bloomberg and Al Jazeera Plus.

Jen earned a B.A. in both Anthropology and Gender Studies from Mount Holyoke College in 2010 and is originally from Portland, Oregon

Margrét Valdimarsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Margrét Valdimarsdóttir is a doctoral candidate in criminal justice at the City University of New York (CUNY). Margrét came to U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship, and for the last five years has been an Enhanced Chancellor Fellow at the Graduate Center of CUNY. Along with her doctoral studies, Margret has been teaching international criminology and statistics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Margrét has a BA and MA degree in sociology from the University of Iceland.

Margrét’s research focuses on the contextual effects of police suspicion and the long-term consequences of frequent police interventions. More specifically, Margrét is analyzing the impact of location on police decisions to stop, question and arrest or release pedestrians. As well as if frequent police interventions are associated with future problem behavior through its effects on education and employment. Receiving the Leifur Eiríksson scholarship has allowed Margrét to travel across the United States to present her research at several conferences and to participate at research workshops.

Brenda Prehal

.brenda skelly
Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Brenda Prehal is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Archaeology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Her research focuses on re-incorporating the medieval Icelandic literature in interpreting Icelandic archaeology. Specifically, her research uses the pagan Scandinavian burial record for case studies, as mortuary practices are the most likely of archaeological remains to reveal belief systems. By using interdisciplinary methods of hard science, such as DNA of animal remains in burials, along with folklore and social studies of Viking Age grave artifacts, she examines how the literature can be a guide in interpreting archaeological sites, particularly in Iceland.

As a recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Brenda continued her research in the Mývatn region of northern Iceland, excavating pagan and medieval Christian burials (in collaboration with Fornleifastofnun Íslands and the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization). She also collaborated with colleagues at Háskoli Íslands to properly navigate the medieval Icelandic literature (i.e. sagas and eddas/mythology). Last, the scholarship enabled her to spend time at the National Museum’s (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands) storage facilities to physically examine relative artifacts from previously excavated graves.

Brenda earned her Master’s degree in Anthropology from Hunter College, CUNY in 2011.

Svanhildur Þorvaldsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Svanhildur Þorvaldsdóttir is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of Rochester in New York, where she studies the United Nations. Her research focuses on the inner workings of the organization; in particular, how UN bureaucrats balance the mandates of the organization, given the heterogeneous preferences and interests of its many member states. The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship has enabled her to stay in Rochester to continue her dissertation research.

Before she started her doctoral studies, Svanhildur was a Senior Policy Analyst at the International Peace Institute in New York City, where she worked on a project on transnational threats and challenges facing the UN system in the 21st century. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master of International Affairs Degree in International Security Policy, both from Columbia University.

Marissa Mnich

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Marissa Mnich is a Ph.D candidate in Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a B.S. in Science of Earth Systems before completing a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts in 2013 and continuing on for a Ph.D. Her work focuses on several aspects of volcanology and igneous petrology.

The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation enabled Marissa to complete three weeks of field work in Iceland to sample volcanic rocks from a variety of locations and settings around the country. These samples are analyzed using Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy to quantify the amounts of volatiles, namely water and carbon dioxide, within them. Volatile concentration fundamentally affects the nature of a volcanic eruption. The project aims to better understand the link between volatiles, eruption styles, dynamics of Icelandic volcanism, as well as, subsequent associated hazards.

Kyle Edmunds

Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Kyle Edmunds graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2012 with B.Sc.s in Nuclear Engineering and Medical Physics, with a certificate in International Engineering. He then attended Tufts University until 2014, where he graduated with an M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering, with a focus on cardiac tissue engineering. While at both institutions, Kyle was heavily involved with a variety of international programs – from biophysics in Bangalore, India, to nuclear medicine in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, his passion for both travel and community outreach was best fueled by Engineers Without Borders, wherein he led both a rainwater catchment facility project in Rwanda and a borehole station project in Uganda.

Funding from the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation allowed Kyle to enroll in his doctoral program in Biomedical Engineering at Reykjavík University, where his primary thesis involves studying the use of 3D printing, CT thresholding, and computational modeling for applications in translational myology, aging, and arthroplastic prosthesis assessment. While at RU, he has likewise co-established the Icelandic Center for Neurophysiology where he leads all facets of technical operation: EEG acquisition, protocol development, and evoked potential source localization analyses. Since his arrival, he has published eight peer-reviewed manuscripts in scientific journals and has likewise held an adjunct instructor position in courses including Biomedical Digital Electronics, Cellular Biology, Tissue Engineering, Neurophysiology, and Clinical Engineering.

Rebecca Conway

RConway Photo
Scholarship Years: 2015-2016

Rebecca Conway graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 with B.A.s in English literature and environmental science. While at UVA, she took part in both the Area Program in Poetry Writing and the Distinguished Majors Program, the latter of which afforded her the opportunity to write a thesis concerning prosimetrum in Old Icelandic and early Irish saga narratives. In addition to her literary and environmental studies, she has participated in archaeological excavations of prehistoric sites in interior Alaska.

With the support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation and the Robert Kellogg Memorial scholarship, she was able to enroll in the interdisciplinary Medieval Icelandic Studies master’s program at the University of Iceland. Her master’s thesis combines a literary analysis of wood use in the Íslendingasögur with archaeological and paleoenvironmental evidence of such. By combining environmental, archaeological, and literary information, she hopes to explore how realized resource stress, namely that of wood, was acknowledged and treated in the sagas.

Örn Arnaldsson

Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Örn Arnaldsson has math degrees from the University of Iceland (BS) and the University of Washington in Seattle (MS). He is a PhD candidate at the math department of University of Minnesota. His research interest is developing, and applying, Lie-group methods (often called symmetry methods) to problems arising in geometry, mathematical physics, computer vision, dynamical systems, numerical analysis and more. This flurry of applications is what makes the underlying theoretical development so exciting. The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation helped bring Örn to Minnesota to work with one of the world’s leading experts in this field, Peter Olver.

Alix Johnson

Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Alix Johnson is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research investigates Icelandic efforts to develop a so-called “data haven” as a project of economic recovery and political reform. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, her work follows the transformation of material infrastructures and popular discourses as Iceland is made a good place for information to “live.” As a recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Scholarship, she pursued these questions ethnographically through a year of field research among Icelandic activists, officials, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Her research is also supported by grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Jacob Hobson

Hobson photo
Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Jacob Hobson is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Medieval Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. With the generous support of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, he spent the academic year 2014-15 as a guest research at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum.

He specializes in Anglo-Saxon and medieval Scandinavian literature. His dissertation studies the broad application of exegetical theory in late Anglo-Saxon England; past work has focused on identity and the Scandinavian rulership of Anglo-Saxon England. In addition to his dissertation, his recent work has focused on intellectual history and literary theory in medieval England and Iceland

Birna Þorvaldsdóttir

Birna photo
Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Birna Þorvaldsdóttir graduated with a B.Sc in Biology from the University of Iceland in 2013. The same year she began working towards a Ph.D degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Iceland Cancer Research Laboratory. Her doctoral research focuses on telomere dysfunction in BRCA-related cancer in the Icelandic population. As a Leifur Eiríksson scholar, Birna was able to work on a part of the project at the Blackburn Laboratory at University of California, San Francisco, a leading laboratory in telomere research. The results of the project will shed light on the relationship of telomere dysfunction and cancer risk in BRCA mutation carriers and BRCA-related cancers in the Icelandic population.

Megan Hicks

Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Megan Hicks is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Archaeology at the City University of New York while carrying out research in Iceland. She uses zooarchaeology (the study of animal bones) as a medium through which to view pastoral and hunting economies, diets of people, and ecology of Icelandic households in the past. From the Viking age through the mid 20th century, preserved fish, sheep’s wool, dairy products, and meat were central to Iceland’s local and long distance exchange relationships. The archaeological evidence of changing use of animals and making of animal-derived products can illuminate daily life, economic connections, and the ways in which people managed, perceived, and organized and their landscapes. Her work also explores how Iceland’s modernization in the 18th-21st centuries the above practices and relationships.

As a recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, she continued her research in the Mývatn region of northern Iceland, excavating and surveying farms in the municipality of Skútustaðir (in collaboration with Fornleifastofnun Íslands and the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization). She also collaborated with colleagues at Háskoli Íslands to develop a method of identifying bird eggshell excavated from archaeological contexts and worked toward the completion of the identification of animal bones excavated from Skútustaðir, which is central to her dissertation. Last, the scholarship enabled her to spend additional time investigating Icelandic written sources on farming, hunting, and landscapes.

Megan earned her B.A. from New York University in Anthropology and Linguistics in 2005 and a Master’s degree in Anthropology from Hunter College (C.U.N.Y) in 2009.

Berglind Hólm Ragnarsdóttir

Berglind Ragnarsdottir
Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Berglind Hólm Ragnarsdóttir is a Ph.D candidate in sociology at the Graduate Center City University of New York. She first came to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a PhD in sociology and since 2011 has been an Enhanced Chancellor Fellow at the Graduate Center. The Leifur Eiríksson award has enabled her to stay in New York City while in the dissertation writing stage of her doctoral work. Her research generally focuses on cross-national stratification and inequality, gender equality, and family well-being while her doctoral dissertation specifically addresses class inequality among women. Alongside her dissertation work she has been a Research Associate in the Luxembourg Income Study Center as well as an Adjunct Lecturer at Queens College where she has been teaching Statistics.

Anna Gunndís Guðmundsdóttir


Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Anna Gunndís is an Icelandic filmmaker and an actress who grew up in the professional theater world in Iceland and worked as an actress in theater, film and television in Iceland and abroad until she was accepted at the Graduate Film Department, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University where she studies screenwriting and directing for film.

She was nominated for the Iceland Film Academy Award for “Best Actress in a leading role” for the film Frost. She also starred in Fólkið í blokkinni and Áramótaskaupið. She has worked in different capacities in writing, directing, producing and editing for film and theater. Before she moved to New York she worked as an actress at the Akureyri Theater at the north coast of Iceland.

Anna Gunndís recently directed her first short film I Can’t Be Seen Like This which will premiere next fall. The film is based on real life events when her hair got ripped off by a handheld mixer while making a chocolate cake for her eight year old birthday.

As a recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Anna Gunndís was able to continue her studies at New York University and is currently writing her first feature film called The Monkey Farm as her thesis project.

She claims that the filmmaking industry is a strong medium that can play a large part in affecting the worlds race and gender gap being a medium that needs to fight its own battle from within. It is precisely for this reason that her approach to filmmaking stands to make important and needed contributions to the field. She emphsizes on writing strong female characters, hire women in key positions on her set and make the world a better place for everyone. She is currently living with her husband and two kittens in Brooklyn.

Alyssa Maraj Grahame

Alyssa snaefellsnes
Scholarship Years: 2014-2015

Alyssa Maraj Grahame is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Previously, she completed her Honours BA in political science and anthropology at the University of Toronto. Early in her graduate career, Alyssa became interested in how the global financial crisis and economic recession prompted people to collectively rethink the meaning, institutions, and practices of democracy.

As a guest researcher at the University of Iceland, Alyssa conducted a study of social mobilization and political change since Iceland’s 2008 financial crisis. Her dissertation research investigates the production of the financial crisis, the Pots and Pans Revolution, and ongoing sources of political tension. The project sheds light on how crisis has transformed ordinary people’s engagement with politics and whether democratic institutions as we know them can withstand 21st-century challenges.

Elizabeth Walgenbach


Scholarship Years: 2014

Elizabeth Walgenbach is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University. With the support of a Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, she is a guest researcher at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, where she has been conducting research on manuscripts of Arons saga Hjörleifssonar and the lawcode Jónsbók.

Her academic interests center on legal culture, narrative, manuscript studies, and the antiquarians of the early modern period, who mediate so much of our access to medieval materials. She also has a strong interest in the use of digital tools for the interpretation of medieval manuscripts. Her dissertation “Forms of Community Exclusion in Medieval Iceland” focuses on the Church sanction of excommunication and the secular punishment of outlawry, exploring the intellectual and practical connections between the two in literary and legal sources.

Elizabeth earned a B.A. in History from Cornell University and an M.A. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto.

Viktoria Ros Gisladottir

Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Viktoria Ros Gisladottir studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iceland. Upon graduation in 2008 she became a Project Manager at Reykjavik Energy Invest. There she was involved in geothermal energy harvesting. This involvement led her to pursue a M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on fluid dynamics at the University of California, San Diego. Upon its completion she continued her studies there working towards a Ph.D. As a Leifur Eiríkisson Scholarship recipient, Viktoria was able to advance to Ph.D. candidacy in Engineering Physics. Her current work is on Transport in Networks of which one of the applications is for geothermal reservoirs. Parallel to completing her degree she interns with the Risk and Decision Science team at the US Army Engineering Research and Development Center.

Sigurður Pétur Magnússon


Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Sigurður Pétur Magnússon received his doctoral degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in June 2014. His doctoral research work was focused on developing and applying computational fluid dynamics simulations to estimate what key factors determine air qualities in the built urban environments. Alongside with his doctoral research at MIT he worked on a solution for generating electricity from ocean waves.

Sigurður is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at MIT.

Oliver Organista

Leifur Picture

Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Oliver Organista attended the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA, he attended two excavations and developed an interest in how gender was constructed and maintained in past cultures. Oliver took his first class in Old Icelandic taught by Kendra Willson, a previous Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship recipient. He graduated from UCLA in 2012 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Scandinavian Studies.

As a recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Oliver was able to enroll and attend the Viking and Medieval Norse Studies Master’s program offered by the University of Iceland. An interdisciplinary program which draws on varied academic fields, Oliver took courses on Viking and Medieval Archaeology alongside Old Icelandic courses. The scholarship also allowed Oliver to participate in an excavation in the summer of 2014 lead by Bjarni Einarsson in the town of Hafnir in Iceland. The excavation seeks to understand habitation and settlement practices in the Early Settlement Period of Iceland. He is currently preparing for the second year of his M.A. program and working on his thesis which deals with spatiality and gender in different longhouses of the Viking Age.

Jörundur Ragnarsson


Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Jörundur Ragnarsson studied acting in The Iceland Academy of the Arts and graduated with a B.F.A. degree in 2006. He worked as an actor and screenwriter for six years in Iceland before applying for the Film M.F.A. program at Columbia University in which he is currently enrolled. He is known for his work in television and film as well as in theatre. He founded two independent theatre companies, VÉR MORÐINGJAR and ÉG OG VINIR MÍNIR and performed in two of the largest theaters in Iceland, appearing in total of 18 theater productions. His most successful and known projects are the feature film, BJARNFREÐARSON and the three television series, NÆTURVAKTIN, DAGVAKTIN, and FANGAVAKTIN all of which he starred in and co-wrote. All of these projects won multiple awards at the Icelandic Film Academy Awards. Jörundur has performed in 4 other Icelandic movies. For VEÐRAMÓT he won the Icelandic Film Academy award for “Best actor in a supporting role”. Also he has performed in numerous television series and short films.

Jörundur directed his first short film HJÓNABANDSSÆLA last summer which was shot in the small Icelandic seaside village, Patreksfjörður. The film will be premiered in The Montreal World Film Festival this fall.

Jennifer Grayburn


Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Jennifer Grayburn received her B.A. in History and Art History from Allegheny College and her M.A. in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Virginia. As a Leifur Eiríksson scholar, Jennifer attended the University of Iceland in Reykjavík in order to pursue an M.A. in Medieval Icelandic Studies and research the context and vocabulary of architectural references in Orkneyinga saga. Currently, Jennifer is a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia and her dissertation uses cultural memory theory and the Icelandic sagas to explore the significance of architecture in the medieval North Sea world. She continues to share her passion for the art, architecture, and literature of the medieval North through her research and the courses she teaches.

Amy Fingerle


Scholarship Years: 2013 -2014

Amy Fingerle received a B.Sc. in 2010 from the Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan, where she specialized in aquatic ecology. While at Michigan, Amy conducted research on the population structure of the amphipod Diporeia spp. in the Laurentian Great Lakes and studied sustainable energy development in Chilean Patagonia. After her studies, Amy worked as a research assistant at the United States Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center, studying food web structure and avian botulism in nearshore Lake Michigan, and with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) at Oregon State University, studying hypoxia and ocean acidification on the inner continental shelf.

Amy came to Iceland in 2012 to pursue a master’s degree in aquatic biology in the Department of Aquaculture and Fish Biology at Hólar University College. The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship enabled Amy to conduct field research to study the effect of population density on the diel activity, space use, and growth of stream-dwelling Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in northern Iceland.

Friðrik Árni Friðriksson Hirst


Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Friðrik Árni Friðriksson Hirst received his law degree from the University of Iceland in 2011. The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship enabled Friðrik to study for an additional Master’s degree in law (LL.M.) at Harvard Law School. In his studies at Harvard, Friðrik took courses on subjects including criminal law and procedure, corporate and business law, as well as interdisciplinary perspectives on law from viewpoints of economics, psychology and philosophy. His main research project examines prosecutorial discretion in the U.S. criminal justice system and also includes comments from Icelandic prosecutors whom he interviewed for the purposes of the study.

During his time in the United States, Friðrik lived with his wife, Vigdís, and two young children, Margrét and Friðrik. Subsequently they moved back to Iceland where Friðrik currently works as an associate and district court attorney at the law firm Juris in Reykjavík. Friðrik’s areas of interest include complex commercial matters, strategic planning and litigation. For instance, he was part of the defense team in a renowned case involving criminal charges brought by the parliament against Iceland’s former prime minister in 2010. In addition, Friðrik has taught courses on legal methodology and procedure in the University of Iceland and Reykjavik University.

Dórótea Høeg Sigurðardóttir


Scholarship Years: 2013-2014

Dórótea Høeg Sigurðardóttir received her B.Sc. in civil engineering from University of Iceland in 2009, and M.S.E. from Princeton University in 2012. She is currently a Ph.D. student and works in the Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) lab of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University. Her research is focused on structural analysis, structural identification, condition assessment, and SHM of bridges using universal parameters of beams. She is involved in the following projects: Structural analysis and identification of Streicker Bridge, monitoring and condition assessment of the US202/NJ23 highway overpass, and testing of scale model of a highway overpass. Dórótea is interested in developing methods for damage detection and performance evaluation which focus on using usual traffic loads on bridges and thereby eliminate the need for testing. The Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship has enabled Dórótea to perform testing on a test structure and hold measurement sessions on a real in-service structure as well as develop methods for analysis of the data.

Oddný Helgadóttir


Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Oddný Helgadóttir is a PhD student in Political Economy at Brown University. Her research centers on international political economy, financial and economic policy, financial crises and economic ideas. Oddný is from Iceland and first came to Brown on a Fulbright scholarship to complete a Master’s in Public Policy. She has a B.F.A. from the Icelandic Academy for the Arts and has worked as a journalist in Iceland before coming to the United States.

Christian Olivera

Olivera photo

Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Christian Olivera received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2011. During his studies, he interned for two geotechnical engineering related firms and agencies, which led him to pursue his M.S. in Civil Engineering (with a focus in Geotechnical Engineering) at Virginia Tech. Under the supervision of Dr. Russell A. Green, Christian applied for the 2012-2013 Leifur Eirkisson Fellowship.

When offered the 2012-2013 Leifur Eiríksson Fellowship by the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation, CHristian spent the 2012-2013 academic year performing research at the University of Iceland’s Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (EERC) in Selfoss, Iceland under the guidance of Dr. Benedikt Halldorsson. His research focused on the use of H/V spectral ratios in site specific seismic hazard analyses. During his free time, Christian enjoys spending time with friends and family, and playing soccer.

Melissa Mayus

Mayus 1

Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Melissa Mayus discovered an interest in medieval language and literature during her undergraduate years at the University of Notre Dame, where she first took a class in Old English. After receiving her B.A. in 2005 with a double major in English and Music History, she went on to complete a M.A. in the English department at Saint Louis University in 2007. It was at St. Louis that she took her first class in Old Norse-Icelandic. She then returned to the University of Notre Dame to pursue her Ph.D. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the English department at Notre Dame writing a dissertation on conceptions of free will in Anglo-Saxon literature.

As a 2012-2013 recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Melissa was able to spend the year at the University of Iceland pursuing a M.A. in Medieval Icelandic Studies. This interdisciplinary program allowed her to take courses on Old Norse-Icelandic language and literature, the History of the Icelandic Language, Old Nordic Religions, the History of the Medieval North, and Manuscript Studies. She is currently completing a thesis on human agency in the Icelandic sagas.

Arnaldur Hjartarson

Hjartarson - photo

Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Arnaldur Hjartarson studied law at the University of Iceland. Shortly after his graduation in 2008, Iceland suffered a serious financial crisis which involved a collapse of the country’s banking sector. Subsequently, Arnaldur worked for the Special Investigation Commission of the Icelandic Parliament, which had the task of investigating the causes of the crisis. Later, he also worked for the Financial Supervisory Authority before going on to work as a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Iceland.

The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Scholarship enabled Arnaldur to pursue graduate studies in law at Yale Law School, where his research was focused mainly on financial regulation and corporate law, but also on international law, European Union law and human rights law. In May 2013, Arnaldur graduated from Yale Law School with the highest grade in every course. He has now returned to Iceland where he works as an adjunct professor at the University of Iceland. In his current research work, Arnaldur explores ways to improve the regulatory framework for the operations of banks and other financial institutions.

Dan Govoni


Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Dan Govoni graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2008 with a BA in zoology. He completed his MSc at Hólar University College in northwest Iceland in 2011. Dan’s master’s research focused on the role of temperature and spring type in structuring macroinvertebrate communities in Icelandic freshwater springs. Upon completion of his master’s, Dan worked as a research technician in Fairbanks, AK and a commercial fisherman in Kodiak, AK. During his time in Alaska, Dan began talking with Mark Wipfli at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and discovered that his research interests overlapped with Mark’s.

In 2012, Dan began his PhD research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The research is taking place entirely in Iceland. The Leifur Eiríksson scholarship enabled Dan to do field work looking at temporal variation in macroinvertebrate community structure in the hyporheic zones of thermally-stable and thermally-variable Icelandic streams.

Eyrún Arna Eyjólfsdóttir

Eyrun photo

Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Eyrún Arna Eyjólfsdóttir graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iceland in 2007 where she studied Mathematics with an emphasis on Computer Science. She joined the master’s program at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2008 where she worked on a project/thesis that involved combining inertial sensors and a camera for computer vision applications on mobile phones. In 2010 she completed her master’s degree and started PhD research in Computer Science at California Institute of Technology.

Eyrún’s current research interest is in the field of computer vision and machine learning, particularly the automatic detection and classification of events in video. With cameras ubiquitously found in our environment, one can see the opportunity of using them for applications such as automatically preventing accidents, detecting crimes, or aiding the blind in their interactions. However, in order to realize such systems, improvement in human pose tracking and development of action detection and classification algorithms are needed.

Under the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Eyrún has worked on developing tools for detecting actions between pairs of Drosophila (fruit flies). Compared with humans, fruit flies have a more limited span of behaviors, they have several orders of magnitude fewer neurons, and they are easy to track in a video. It is therefore a much more tractable problem. For these same reasons, many neurobiologists focus their research around the Drosophila, which often involves recording thousands of videos of flies interacting. A system that automatically detects actions between flies in a video can therefore greatly benefit research in neurobiology and, together with continuously improving computer vision techniques, can set the ground for developing systems for more complex animals such as humans.

Ásbjörg Kristinsdóttir

Asbjorg commencement

Scholarship Years: 2012-2013

Ásbjörg Kristinsdóttir received her doctoral degree in Engineering and Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her doctoral research work was focused on risk informed decision making for new power plant development projects. Prior to pursuing her doctoral program, Ásbjörg was a fellow of MIT’s dual degree program, Leaders for Global Operations (LGO), from where she received MBA degree, and MSc degree in Construction Engineering Management. As an LGO fellow, she conducted an internship at Amgen in Puerto Rico, where she researched management of capital development projects through a case study of the biotechnology industry.

As a 2012-2013 recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Ásbjörg worked on a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT Sloan School of Management. She currently works for the National Power Company in Iceland, in addition to teaching at the University of Reykjavik.

Catherine Chambers

Cat Chambers

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Catherine Chambers is an interdisciplinary social scientist who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Fisheries from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Catherine conducts research in both Iceland and Alaska, and her expertise areas include: Arctic marine social ecological systems, fisheries management, coastal communities and human-environment relationships. She has a M.S. in Zoology from the University of Southern Illinois Carbondale and a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Drake University.

The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship allowed Catherine to travel to rural coastal communities in Northwest Iceland to conduct participant observation on fishing boats and in fish processing plants to explore small-scale fishing livelihoods and the cultural dimensions important in sustainable fisheries management. Her research uses a political ecology theoretical framework to pair an ethnographic and historical description of small boat fisheries with an analysis of fishermen in small boat fisheries (limited license lumpfish fishery, open access coastal fishery, and small boat privatized fishery) at a time when access to fisheries is decreasing worldwide. Catherine’s work contributes to scholarship on changing human-nature relationships and to efforts in designing equitable, culturally-appropriate fisheries management.

Catherine currently resides in Iceland, working as a coastal culture research specialist for the Blönduós Academic Centre.

Jim Wood

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Jim Wood began studying Icelandic while fixing helicopters at NAS Keflavík, Iceland in 2003 with the US Air Force. After separating from the Air Force, he pursued a B.A. in Linguistics at the University of New Hampshire. He graduated in 2006, writing his B.A. thesis on Icelandic syntax, specifically focusing on a word order known as “stylistic fronting.” He continued to study Icelandic syntax and syntactic theory as a Ph.D. student at New York University and completed his Ph.D. in May of 2012. His thesis focuses on how the meaning and structure of Icelandic verbs interact with the behavior of those verbs within sentences.

Jim used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to do fieldwork in Iceland for his dissertation, as well as to work with the linguists at the University of Iceland. While Icelandic syntax is extremely interesting in its own right, the ultimate goal is to find out what individual languages like Icelandic can tell us about the human capacity for language and human cognition in general. Jim’s work has pursued the hypothesis that words and affixes in natural language do not have fully formed meanings independent of the syntactic structures in which they are embedded.

Jim is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Yale University. In addition to his thesis work, he has also worked on a number of other topics in Icelandic syntax, including case marking; prefixes and prepositions; infinitive clauses; the structure of noun phrases; and long-distance interactions between verbal agreement and pronouns.

Paul Peterson

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Paul Peterson, a native of Minnesota, received his B.A. in 2008 from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a major in Scandinavian Studies and an emphasis in Swedish. His interest and involvement in the Scandinavian program led him to continue studying at the University of Minnesota for his M.A. and Ph.D. in Germanic Medieval Studies, where he has taught Swedish and studied Germanic philology and linguistics, etymology, folklore, Scandinavian mythology, Old Norse, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old English, Middle Dutch, and Middle High German. His research interests include Old Germanic languages and literature, with a specialization in Old Norse. He is currently writing his dissertation on Old Norse nicknames.

He has spent his time as a Leifur Eiríksson scholar at the University of Iceland researching nicknames and pursuing a master’s degree in Medieval Icelandic Studies. In this master’s program he has taken courses in Scandinavian history, Old and Modern Icelandic, paleography and textual editing, and Old Norse-Icelandic literature. His master’s thesis describes the general linguistic features of Old Norse nicknames and the uses of these nicknames in saga narratives. Nicknames in the medieval period played an integral part as a means to identify persons and places and how they are connected to and differentiated from one another. When nicknames occur in the sagas, they may be ancient, formed in the popular imagination at an earlier stage, or fanciful interpretations penned by saga authors, but they all have a story to tell. The corpus of Old Icelandic literature is large, but the language is stylized and the composition is informed intertextually by contemporary oral and written culture, thus the uniquely high-frequency of nicknames in this literature allows us to break through the formulaic mold of these texts and increase our understanding of them.

Brynhildur Guðjónsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Brynhildur Guðjónsdóttir is a prominent Icelandic theater artist, known both for her acting and writing. A lover of language and the written word, Brynhildur finished a BA-degree in French and Italian from the University of Iceland and Université Paul Valéry in France before diving into the world of theater. She received her BA-Hons degree in Acting from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1998 and subsequently played her first role on a professional stage at the Royal National Theatre in London. In 1999 she joined the acting ensemble of the National Theater of Iceland, where she has played many important roles, including the title role in Edith Piaf which won her the Icelandic Theater Award, Gríman, as Best Actress in a Leading Role. She has since won the prize on numerous occasions, both for her acting and also for her writing for the stage. Brynhildur is the author of BRÁK, a play about the origin of Icelandic poetry written for The Settlement Centre of Iceland. The play enjoyed an immense success and has been performed some 200 times. Brynhildur’s work also includes acting and writing for film and television.

As a 2011-2012 recipient of the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship, Brynhildur was able to pursue her interest in writing for the stage and complete a residency as a Special Research Fellow affiliated with the Playwriting department of Yale School of Drama. As a fellow she worked, among others, with American playwrights Paula Vogel and Sarah Ruhl, focusing on modern playwriting and the subject of surviving in a modern world. Brynhildur’s plays ask questions about what it is to be an individual in a relentlessly digital age, and what it is to be alive in this very contemporary moment.

Gunnsteinn Hall

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Gunnsteinn Hall received B. Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics from the University of Iceland in 2007.

During his studies in Electrical Engineering he became interested in working on engineering problems with applications in biomedicine, which led to him enrolling into University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Biomedical Engineering department in 2007.

He worked with Prof. John White at the Laboratory of Optical and Computational Engineering (LOCI) on a project involving adaptive optics for microscopy for multiphoton microscopy, earning an M.Sc. degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2010.

Since then he has been working towards his Ph.D. degree with Professor Paul Campagnola and Kevin Eliceiri on a project on second harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy. SHG microscopy is a recent imaging modality that can provide 3D images of collagen (the most abundant protein in humans) with penetration typically of about 100-200 microns. SHG microscopy has shown promise for detecting many diseases such as ovarian cancer and breast cancer. The advantage is that it is sensitive to changes at a small scale so that the hope is to diagnose disease at an earlier stage than currently possible.

He is hopeful that his work on SHG microscopy will help towards finding a solution for diagnosing diseases at earlier stages and monitoring response to therapy.

Ása Hjörleifsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Ása Hjörleifsdóttir is an Icelandic screenwriter and director, and a 2012 graduate of the Columbia University Film MFA program. She was born in 1984 in Reykjavík, but has spent most of her life outside her native Iceland – in England, France, Canada and the United States. Ása holds a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Iceland and the Sorbonne – Paris IV University. She has worked as guest coordinator for the Reykjavík International Film Festival, a freelance book and film critic for various Icelandic publications, and as a programmer for the Iceland National Radio. She recently taught screenwriting at the Columbia University Undergraduate Film Department.

As a Leifur Eiríksson Foundation 2011-2012 scholarship recipient, Ása wrote, directed and edited her Columbia thesis film Ástarsaga. Ástarsaga is a mystery and a love story set both in Reykjavík and New York. Ása ferried key cast and crew between the two continents in order to make the film. It was completed in May 2012, received Columbia University Faculty Honors and has been pre-sold to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

In 2011 her feature film adaptation of the critically acclaimed Icelandic novel, The Swan, was given the green-light for development by the Iceland Film Fund. Ása is currently in pre-production for this project, to be shot in 2013.

Elmar Hallgrimsson

Scholarship Years: 2011-2012

Elmar Hallgrimsson received his Law degree from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik in 2002. After several years working as a lawyer and in the financial sector in Iceland he decided to pursue further study in Law. He finished an LL.M degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 as well as a Business and Law Certificate from Wharton Business School. In his study he focused on corporate law, mediation and negotiation. Besides his legal education Elmar has a Masters degree in Corporate Finance from the University of Iceland.

Elmar is an assistant professor at the Business School at the University of Iceland where he teaches several law courses as well as Business Ethics.

Nicole Pietrantoni

Scholarship Years: 2010-2011

Nicole Pietrantoni is an American artist whose work explores the complex relationship between human beings and nature. Employing both traditional and non-traditional methods of printmaking, she creates installations, works on paper, and public art. As a Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Scholarship recipient for the 2010-11 year, she conducted research and created a series of artworks that explore landscape, ecology, and place. Her artistic investigations were anchored at artist residencies located around the island where she interviewed artists and scientists about the Icelandic landscape; observed the interaction between people and the land; and created several new bodies of work. Nicole was also a visiting artist at the Icelandic Printmakers’ Association in Iceland, where she taught printmaking classes and co-chaired a printmaking conference in Reykjavik.

Nicole has been awarded numerous artist residencies in the US and Iceland including the SÍM Residency, Akureyri Artists Residency, and the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust. She was the recipient of the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award, the Elizabeth Catlett Fellowship, and a public art commission from the University of Iowa Hospital. Her work is in numerous collections and has been in exhibitions across the United States, Iceland, and Croatia.

Nicole received her MFA in Printmaking from the University of Iowa and her BS in Human Organizational Development and Art History from Vanderbilt University. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Montana-Missoula where she teaches printmaking.

Nicole’s artwork can be viewed at www.nicole-pietrantoni.com

Jón Emil Guðmundsson

Scholarship Years: 2010-2011

Jón Emil Guðmundsson was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland. He was interested in physics at an early age. He did his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Iceland (UI), with a semester spent at the University of Uppsala. During his years at UI he became interested in cosmology, the study of the Universe at its largest scales during various stages in its development. After graduating in 2008 he went to Princeton University as a Ph.D. student where he works in the field of observational cosmology.

During his early years at Princeton Jón has mainly worked on a balloon-borne experiment called SPIDER. The experiment will launch from McMurdo station on the Antarctic coast in December 2012, with the aim of measuring a relic signal in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. This signal is predicted by inflationary theories of the early Universe, which describe a brief period of rapid expansion accompanied by gravitational waves, the progenitors of this polarized signal. The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship has enabled Jón to work on various cryogenic and mechanical qualification of the SPIDER flight cryostat as well as thermal modeling and scientific instrumentation.

Jón has recently become a member of the core team for the High Frequency Instrument on-board the Planck satellite, which launched in May 2009. Together, Planck and SPIDER will help us answer questions about the age of the Universe, the growth of structure, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy while probing fundamental physics at extremely high energy scales.

Camille Leblanc

Scholarship Years: 2010-2011

Camille Leblanc is currently completing a joint doctoral degree in Fisheries from Oregon State University and the University of Iceland. Prior to her PhD study, Camille obtained a Master in Evolution and Animal Behaviour from The Ecole Normale Superieure and AgroParisTech (INA P-G), and a B.Sc. in marine biology from Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France. She also graduated from a two-year program in Aquaculture and marine science from INTECHMER.

Camille came first to Iceland in 2005, for the practical of her M.Sc., where she studied the behaviour of Arctic charr at Hólar University College. She also worked as a research assistant for a few months at Holar and developed a strong interest in intra-specific diversity of fishes.

Camille built her own Ph.D. research project based on her findings from her M.Sc. and from her interest in life cycle diversity of fishes. Especially she is studying how egg size can influence the diversity of Salmonids in terms of early development, behaviour, morphology and physiology. She used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to fund the study on long-term effect of egg size in Steelhead trout. Funding was used for the travel to Oregon (USA), for running the experiments and for the analyses of physiological samples. This study presents novel findings that demonstrate that variability in egg size is an important source of phenotypic variation, which can be related to rapid evolution of fishes.

Valgerður Halldórsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2010-2011

Valgerður Halldórsdóttir earned her B.Sc. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Iceland in 2005 and her M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University in 2008. During her masters studies she became very interested in ultrasound and its various applications in medicine and therefore decided to further pursue her studies with a focus on the use of contrast agents in ultrasound.

Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University and working with Dr. Flemming Forsberg at Thomas Jefferson University. Her research aims at developing a method to monitor breast cancer response to chemotherapy that is applied before surgery. In some types of breast cancer the pressure in the tumor can be used as a marker for therapy response. Ultrasound contrast agents are sensitive to pressure changes and could potentially be used to measure this pressure thus allowing for a noninvasive monitoring of chemotherapy.

The Leifur Eiríksson scholarship has helped Valgerður optimize the ultrasound parameters needed for pressure estimation within tumors and to implement the technique on a commercial ultrasound scanner. Furthermore, an initial proof of concept was established in vivo. Results from this work were presented at the annual conference of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine in New York in April 2011.

Björg Jóhannsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2010-2011

Björg Jóhannsdóttir received her Bachelor’s degree in Education, majoring in Mathematics and Icelandic, from the University of Iceland in 1996. After years of teaching mathematics, she went back to school and graduated with distinction from Reykjavik University where she got her M.Ed. in Mathematics Education. Björg’s interest in Mathematics Education then took her to Teachers College, Columbia University where she is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

Björg’s main interest within the field of Mathematics Education is the mathematical content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge of elementary teachers, in addition to elementary teachers’ attitude and feelings towards mathematics. Her dissertation topic has to do with this interest of hers, and is the mathematical content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge of Icelandic student teachers aiming at the elementary level. Björg used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to develop and adapt measuring tools to assess elementary teachers’ mathematical content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge.

Björg’s goal is to take part in developing curricula and form mathematical courses designed for student teachers at the elementary level, as well as developing courses for existing elementary teachers to make them more comfortable and qualified to teach mathematics.

Hörður Jóhannsson

Scholarship Years: 2008-2009

Hörður Jóhannsson finished a BSc in Computer Science at the University of Iceland in 2002 and in 2006 completed a MSc in CS from the same institution. During fall of 2008 he started in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program as a PhD student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology EECS Department. Prior to joining MIT he worked in industry for several years developing the Gavia AUV.

At MIT, as an Eiríksson Scholar, Hörður is working with Prof. John Leonard in the Marine Robotics Laboratory. Currently his research is in underwater navigation around complex structures using imaging and profiling sonars. One application is autonomous ship-hull inspection where a vehicle needs to be able to navigate safely around the ship and get a complete image of the whole ship-hull.

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2006-2007

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir is an Icelandic archaeologist who is currently working on her Ph.D. in Zooarchaeology (the study of animal bones from archaeological sites) from The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. Archaeology was first taught at the University of Iceland in the fall of 2002 and Albina was among the first students to graduate in the spring of 2005 with a BA in Archaeology. During the last year of her studies at the University she was the president of Kuml, the society of archaeology students.

Albína began working at the Skriðuklaustur medieval monastery excavation site in East-Iceland in 2003 and has, in recent years, worked at various other sites around Iceland.

Albína used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to fund the analysis of the archaeofauna from the medieval monastery of Skriðuklaustur in East Iceland and the Kirkjubæjarklaustur medieval nunnery in the South. Analysis of animal bones from the Vatnsfjörður excavation site in West Iceland was also funded as was travel to the site for field work in the summer of 2007.

Alex Coverdill

Scholarship Years: 2006-2007

Alex Coverdill is currently finishing his fifth year as a graduate student at the University of Washington, working on a doctoral degree in Zoology. He received his bachelor’s of science undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Portland in Oregon where he first began working as a field biologist studying birds. His research interests include migration physiology, the hormonal stress response and circadian/endogenous rhythms of arctic breeding songbirds. While Alex thoroughly enjoys research, his true passion is teaching. As a graduate teaching assistant he has taught courses in animal as well as human physiology, vertebrate biology, introductory biology and comparative vertebrate anatomy. Upon completion of his Ph.D. next year, it is his desire to continue in the academic field as a professor of biology.

Alex used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to study the migratory and resident populations of snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) in Iceland. While most snow buntings around the world migrate to and from breeding grounds in the north each year, most Icelandic birds are resident in the country year-round. Because of Alex’s interests in migration physiology, he collected blood samples from individual birds to compare corticosterone hormone profiles between migrants and residents from winter through the breeding life history stages. His hypothesis is that birds migrating significant distances will have higher levels of corticosterone when compared to residents, as this hormone plays an important role in the regulation and metabolization of fat and other energy stores vital to long distance flight.

Asdis Helgadottir

Scholarship Years: 2007 – 2008

Asdis Helgadottir received her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik in 2005. She then went to the United States and completed a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) during the summer of 2007. Her thesis was titled “Cracking in Thin Films With Stress Gradients Grown on Substrates”.

Asdis continued her PhD studies at UCSB and is now working on a project named “Direct Numerical Simulation of Turbulent Stratified Two Phase Flow in a Channel”. The goal is to model the nature of two phase flow numerically, in particular later to estimate pressure drop in two phase flow in pipes. Existing pressure drop models for pipes are all empirical and are only valid for conditions outside the range of conditions in pipes in geothermal power plants. The outcome of the PhD project could, therefore, be of great importance in pressure drop calculations of two phase flow in pipes in geothermal power plants, which could increase the safety and efficiency of geothermal power plants.

Carl Olsen

Scholarship Years: 2008 – 2009

Carl Olsen received his BA from UC Santa Barbara in 2001 and his Masters in the Department of Scandinavian at UC Berkeley in 2005. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Scandinavian at UC Berkeley, where he is busy finishing his dissertation. He has taught one year of Swedish and several years of Reading and Composition for his department. In 2007 Carl received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor award and the Teaching Effectiveness award. He has presented several times at the annual conference for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies and has written the entries on Prose Edda and Poetic Edda for The Literary Encyclopedia (online at www.litencyc.com).

Carl’s dissertation is on ekphrasis in Old Norse poetry, focusing particularly on the “shield poems,” in which the poet recounts myths painted on a shield which he has received from his patron. The Leifur Eiríksson scholarship allowed Carl to spend the academic year of 2008-2009 at the Arnamagnaean Institute (Stofnun Árna Magnússonar) in Reykjavik,where he had access to the manuscripts and facsimiles relevant to his research, along with working space and access to the Institute’s library.

Christine Schott

Scholarship Years: 2009 – 2010

Christine Schott received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in 2005. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Virginia, working on a dissertation that studies manuscript culture in medieval England—that is, how people produced and valued their books as cultural artifacts. As a complement to her work in English literature, she is also studying book culture in medieval Iceland.

As a Leifur Eiríksson scholar, Christine pursued a master’s degree in Medieval Icelandic Studies at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. Her master’s thesis explores several medieval manuscripts in which the scribes left collections of notes and comments in the margins. This marginalia helps us not only to reconstruct the experiences of individual scribes (most of whom seemed rather displeased with their work) but also to begin understanding the culture’s attitude toward books and literacy that has left very few other traces in the historical record.

Elisabeth Ida Ward

Scholarship Years: 2009 – 2010

Elisabeth Ida Ward is a PhD Candidate from the University of California, Berkeley Scandinavian Languages and Literature Department. Although much of her expertise is on the medieval Icelandic sagas, her background in archeology and museum studies has influenced both her theoretical and practical understanding of the sagas. She was the assistant curator of the special traveling exhibition Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, produced by the Smithsonian Institution (opened April 2000).

In addition to writing her dissertation, Elisabeth also serves as the exhibition director for Vikingaheimar Museum in Reykjanesbær, Iceland. Of dual American-Icelandic descent, Elisabeth hopes to spend a lifetime making the sagas meaningful to people on both sides of the Atlantic.

Elizabeth M. Swedo

Scholarship Years: 2007 – 2008

Originally hailing from the suburbs of Chicago, Elizabeth M. Swedo received her Bachelor´s degree in History and English at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, in 2003. She began her graduate studies in medieval history at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, earning her Master´s degree in 2006. The similarities between Old Norse and Modern Icelandic led Elizabeth to study both languages and to concentrate on medieval Iceland. She continued her PhD studies at UMN and is now working on a dissertation that explores the late medieval religious culture of Iceland. Specifically, her project seeks to highlight the roles of the laity as participants in a religious culture, which, although not designed for or maintained by them, was fundamentally shaped by their continued involvement throughout the centuries.

The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship allowed Elizabeth to concentrate on several unpublished manuscripts containing fragments of late vernacular sermons at the Árni Magnússon Institute (Stofnun Árna Magnússonar). Although some details of their composition and delivery are beyond recovery, the Icelandic sermons illuminate expressions of clerical spirituality and religious ideals. They also afford an understanding of the contemporary expectations for the intended audiences.

Upon completion of her Ph.D. next year, Elizabeth intends pursue a career as a history professor. In her five years of graduate school, she has served as an educator in a number of roles: as a teaching assistant, an instructor, a writing tutor, and an assistant editor for an academic journal. She is especially eager to share her knowledge of Iceland with her students when she instructs a course on the Viking world in spring 2009.

Halla Björg Ólafsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2006-2007

Halla Björg Ólafsdóttir graduated from Menntaskólinn í Reykjavik in 1994 and began studies at the department of Physical Therapy of the University of Iceland in 1995. After approximately two years of studies she took a year leave and worked as a flight attendant for the Icelandic airline, Air Atlanta. She resumed her studies and graduated with a B.Sc degree in 2000. Halla worked as a physical therapist in the pulmonary department of Landspitali, University hospital of Iceland from 2000-2002 where she participated in developing a system of “physical therapy at home” for chronic pulmonary patients. In January 2002 she accepted a position as a sleep research technician at the center for sleep research at the pulmonary department of Landspitali where she worked until the end of the summer that year.

After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, Halla began graduate studies in Motor Control in the department of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University. In 2004, she defended a master’s thesis in Motor Control titled: “Is the thumb a fifth finger? Studies of digit interaction during force production tasks.” After receiving her master’s degree, she continued work on a doctoral degree which she is scheduled to defend in the fall of 2007.

During this past year she has used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to focus on age related differences in hand coordination with specific attention on rotational action, feed-forward adjustments of digit interaction, and the effects of strength training on digit interaction. The goal of this work is to enhance knowledge on the changes that occur with age in coordination of the hand and the processes that drive these changes.

Jason Kaiser

Scholarship Years: 2009 – 2010

Jason Kaiser graduated from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2008 with a BS in geology and geophysics. He is finishing his MSc from the University of Massachusetts, studying igneous petrology and volcanology with his advisor, Sheila Seaman. His research interests focus on why and how volcanoes erupt as well as how they evolve during and after each eruption. By using chemical characteristics of erupted material he is trying to piece together the history of an extinct Icelandic volcano.

Jason used the Leifur Eiríksson scholarship to do field work in the Oxnadalur Volcanic Complex outside the city of Akureyri in northern Iceland. Samples’ representing each of the lava flows and ashes were collected and analyzed for element trends that describe the history of the magma chamber or chambers beneath the volcanic complex.

Jessica Langley

Scholarship Years: 2008 – 2009

Jessica Langley graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Painting and Printmaking department at Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2008, and she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2005. Jessica has exhibited nationally across the United States and internationally in Bolivia, and Iceland. She was featured in issue 75 of New American Paintings and has participated in several artist residencies around Iceland.

During her studies, Jessica developed works that utilized tropes of Romantic painting combining them with images and objects from contemporary life, nature photography, and abstract drawing. Her work often teeters between representation and abstraction, blurring the boundary between reality and the imaginary.

The Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship allowed Jessica to travel extensively in Iceland researching the contemporary concept of landscape – looking at how it is represented in art, image, folktale and commerce. Her research brought her to live in unsuspecting places like Skagaströnd in the North and Seydisfjördur in the East. While participating in artist residencies around the country, Jessica developed relationships with international and Icelandic artists.

Jessica hopes to bring these experiences back to the U.S. to develop programs for artists that strengthen the exchange between local and international artists.

Kári Helgason

Scholarship Years: 2009 – 2010

Kári Helgason became interested in astronomy during his high school years at Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík. He studied Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iceland and later at the University of Copenhagen. He received his B.S. Degree in Physics in 2008 from the University of Iceland. The same year he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and enrolled in the University of Maryland where he is currently working towards his PhD in Astronomy.

Kári is currently working on his thesis in collaboration with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He has used the Leifur Eiriksson Scholarship to investigate a faint glow in space called the Cosmic Infrared Background radiation. This background light has been suggested to come from the first stars that formed in the Universe. Kári uses computer simulations to explore these early stars and their effects on the apparent infrared signal. His work at NASA focuses on the next generation space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and determining how it can help us understand the first moments of light production shortly after the Big Bang. The JWST will replace the famous Hubble Space Telescope in 2014 and by then Kári hopes to have a clear picture of its capabilities in terms of Cosmic Infrared Background observations.

Kendra Willson

Scholarship Years: 2006-2007

Kendra Willson was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised in Ames, Iowa. After completing an A.B. in Germanic languages and literatures at Harvard in 1993, she spent two years studying Icelandic language and linguistics at the University of Iceland. After working for a year as a cataloguing assistant for the Fiske Icelandic Collection at the Cornell University Library, Kendra began graduate study in the Scandinavian Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. Between completing the M.A. in Scandinavian Languages and Literatures in 1999 and the Ph.D. in 2007, Kendra studied Finnish at the University of Helsinki 2000-2002, taught Icelandic at the University of Manitoba 2003-2004, and spent the academic years 2004-2005 and 2006-2007 continuing her research at the University of Iceland. Kendra filed her Berkeley dissertation, “Icelandic nicknames”, in June 2007.

Kendra has used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to examine how Icelandic nickname formation has changed over recorded history and relate those changes to changes in the linguistic system.

Kevin Foster

Scholarship Years: 2009 – 2010

Kevin Foster received his B.S. in Civil Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2006. He worked as a staff geotechnical engineer for Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, an engineering design and consulting firm in Manhattan, before returning to school to pursue his master’s degree at Virginia Tech in 2008. When awarded the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Scholarship, he began a year of thesis research centered on re-calibration of a finite-fault earthquake source model using a recently published earthquake database. He spent one year in Iceland on this project working with his Icelandic co-advisor, Benedikt Halldorsson, an expert on that source model. The research was performed in the town of Selfoss, at the University of Iceland’s Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (www.eerc.hi.is).

After the rewarding research experience in Iceland, Kevin will return to Virginia Tech to begin a Ph.D. under the guidance of his master’s advisor, Dr. Russell Green. Kevin’s doctoral studies will be in the area of soil dynamics, particularly the phenomenon of soil liquefaction under earthquake loading, and will combine his background in geotechnical engineering with the experience gained in strong-motion seismology in his time in Iceland. Kevin enjoys running and travel, and developed a new love for hiking while in Iceland.

Pamela Wood

Scholarship Years: 2009 – 2010

Pamela Wood obtained a B.A. in Biology with a specialization in marine science from Boston University in 2001, finished her M.S. from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in 2005, and is now completing a joint doctoral degree from the University of Washington and the University of Iceland. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she also used a Fulbright Scholarship to study European lake whitefish evolutionary ecology in Switzerland and worked as a research scientist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

Pamela used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to fund a study on food web ecology of Arctic charr in Icelandic lakes using naturally occurring stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen to track the long-term dietary habits. This species exhibits a wide range in diet and can become specialized on certain dietary items in many cases, leading to differences in size, shape, and reproductive characteristics among populations. The most extreme differences within this species is found in Iceland, most likely as a result of the extreme variability in Iceland´s volcanic landscape. This study links this biological variability with physical variability to understand how piscivory, or the tendency to consume other fish, develops in different lakes, and how this is dependent on hydrological and terrestrial conditions.

Ramona Harrison

Scholarship Years: 2006-2007

Originally from Vorarlberg, Austria, Ramona Harrison came to the United States at the age of 19 as an Au-pair. After a year, she decided to enroll at Nassau Community College in New York. After completion of her Associate’s degree she enrolled in the Anthropology Department at Hunter College (CUNY) in Manhattan and completed a B.A. in 2001. Following a year of work at the Museum of Natural History, she made the decision to continue college and pursue a M.A. in Anthropology at Hunter.

During the course of her studies, Ramona met Prof. Tom McGovern, a Zooarchaeologist involved in North Atlantic medieval research. Intrigued by his work she decided to apply to do research with him. After a couple of years of training in the NABO and NORSEC labs at Hunter College and Brooklyn College, and upon completion of her M.A. in 2005, she enrolled in the Ph.D. Program at the CUNY Graduation Centre. She was involved in excavation seasons in Iceland and class work in New York, and was also able to work on her faunal collections. She hopes to complete her Ph.D. by the end of 2009.

Ramona used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to investigate the trade relations and subsistence strategies at the medieval trading site of Gásir (NE Iceland). Currently she is working as an excavation supervisor in Vatnsfjördur, Iceland, where the Archaeological Field School is being held.

Sigurður Örn Aðalgeirsson

Scholarship Years: 2007 – 2008

Sigurður Örn Aðalgeirsson’s interest in robotics started at a an early age and his appreciation for complicated autonomous systems grew strong as he began his undergraduate studies as an Electronic and Computer Engineering major. As an undergraduate student he took an active part in his school\’s engineering competitions. The goal in these competitions was to build an autonomous machine that could achieve some goal, a typical goal being traversing through rough terrain and picking up items along the way and depositing them at an end location. It was through these experiences that he became convinced that he wanted to pursue a career in robotics.

At the University of Iceland, Sigurður studied multiple topics ranging from mathematics, physics and electronics to computer science, machine learning and control theory. He had the opportunity of conducting research in control theory with a professor which provided him with a glimpse into the life of a graduate student. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Sigurður’s current research interests lie at the intersection of autonomous robotics and behavioral science. HRI (Human Robot Interaction) is a field that aims to make robots more useful to people in some sense by providing people with an effective interface to control them. This research, at MIT, focuses on pushing towards the making of a sociable robot. People are experts at communicating with other people. This skill is one of the earliest ones to develop for an infant and it continues to be honed throughout an entire life. Sigurður’ research involves leveraging this ability in people by developing robots that use the same social cues as humans do to convey intentions and meaning as well as read people\’s cues whether they be verbal or non-verbal. It is hoped that this will make any layperson an expert in controlling a complicated robot without any specific training as they are able to apply their social models of fellow humans to the robots and interact with them as such.

Steinunn Arnardóttir

Scholarship Years: 2008 – 2009

Steinunn Arnardóttir received her B.Sc. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Iceland in 2006 and a M.A. in Music, Science and Technology from Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) in 2008.

She is currently working toward a M.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University and will graduate in Spring 2010. Research interests include Audio Signal Processing and Brainwave Classification of Musical and Auditory Stimuli. Steinunn holds a Research Assistantship at Suppes Brain Laboratory in the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) at Stanford University where she works on designing and running Electroencephalogram (EEG) experiments on brainwave classification of musical and visual stimuli. The lab is directed by Professor Patrick

Suppes, and works on analyzing how the brain reacts to speech and music.

Steinunn used the Leifur Eiríksson Scholarship to conduct a research in Audio Signal Processing and emulation of Vintage Audio Equipment. Along with Professors Jonathan Abel and Julius O. Smith she has been working on a digital emulation of the Echoplex tape delay. The Echoplex is a tape delay device commonly used by guitar players in the

1960´s and 70´s, and then later in Ska music and hip hop in the 1980´s. First results were published at the 125th Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in San Francisco in Octorber 2008.

Þórhildur Halldórsdóttir

Scholarship Years: 2008 – 2009

Þórhildur Halldórsdóttir graduated from Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík in 2004 and then enrolled in psychology at the University of Iceland. She became interested in disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs), especially ADHD, while working on her BA thesis which she did in cooperation with the Icelandic innovative company, Mentis Cura. The objective of the thesis was to examine whether the electrical activity of the brain can be used to diagnose ADHD. Þórhildur is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in clinical child psychology at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include child and adolescent psychopathology (especially DBDs), evidence-based approaches to assessment, preventive interventions, neuroimaging, cognitive behavior therapy, and behavior modification systems.

During the past year, Þórhildur has used the Leifur Eiríksson funds to research ADHD, specifically behavioral interventions, at the University of Maryland, College Park under the supervision of Dr. Andrea Chronis-Tuscano. Þórhildur was involved in several NIMH funded studies, e.g. a study examining whether an integrated group parenting training and depression treatment program for mothers of children with ADHD can enhance the effects of traditional parent training in mothers who have elevated symptoms of depression.

Þrándur Helgason

Scholarship Years: 2007 – 2008

Þrándur Helgason is currently in his second year as a PhD student in Food Science at the University of Massachusetts. The goal of his research is to engineer vesicles that can deliver bioactive ingredients (such as ω-fatty acids and lycopene) into food matrixes and shield them from oxidation and increase bioavailability. During the past 12 months 2 research articles and one review have been published. Also the research was presented orally in May of 2008 at AOCS (American Oil Chemists’ Society) along with one poster. Two posters where presented in June of 2008 at IFT (Institute of Food Technology), one of which received first prize in a poster competition in the Food Chemistry division of IFT. Also 2 posters where presented on The Delivery of Functionality in complex food systems: Physically-inspired approaches from nanoscale to microscale during a conference in the fall of 2007.

Thrandur used the Leifur Eiríksson scholarship to fund the study of solid lipid nanoparticles and how they can be used to deliver bioactive compounds. In the course of the funding period he described in detail instability mechanisms which are driven by a transformation in crystal form of solid lipids. Knowledge about this mechanism has helped in designing a system that has better stability and protects the bioactive compounds better.