Andrew Gerkey wins a Mellon Fellowship to explore the borders between culture and biology

Andrew P. Gerkey '02 has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies for the 2003-04 academic year. The fellowship covers full graduate tuition and required fees for the first year of graduate study and includes a stipend of $17,500.

The Mellon Fellowships are designed to help exceptionally promising students prepare for careers of teaching and scholarship in humanistic disciplines. Gerkey will study cultural anthropology at Rutgers University.

Gerkey, an English and anthropology major, came to Kenyon intending to pursue the study of English literature. During his first year, however, he took a course in human evolution. "It really clicked with me," he says. "I found there were a lot of connections between my interests in literature and my research in anthropology and biology."

Gerkey spent his junior year studying English at Oxford University in Oxford, England, all the while seeking those points of contact between the written word and the underlying cultural ideas and attitudes those words represent.

"I am interested in exploring that border between culture and biology--the part that behavior, evolution, and culture play in the formation of human individuals and societies," he says.

Since graduation, Gerkey has been working as a teaching assistant in the elementary school in Stillwater, Minnesota, that he attended as a child.

The doctoral program at Rutgers, with its concentration in evolution, behavior, and culture, will involve about three years of coursework and a year of field research. Gerkey has no firm notions as yet of where he will do his research but is interested in Africa, particularly east Africa, and South America. "My goal is to explore further the various traditions of teaching and socialization present in a variety of cultures," he says.