Awards and fellowships

Terry B. Heled Travel & Research Grant

As a way of memorializing her mother, Terry B. Heled, and of honoring the students of her alma mater in gratitude for the encouragement her own research and writing received while she was at Penn, Mali Heled Kinberg (C'95, G'95) has created this endowed fund at the Kelly Writers House that, each summer, will enable a student to travel for the purpose of conducting the research that will lead to a significant writing project. Additional support by Stefanie Moll (C'94) and Janey Kalymnios.

2022-2023 Grant Recipients: Drew Basile and Sof Sears

Heled Travel and Research Grants enable students to travel and conduct research for significant writing projects. Join us for presentations by this year’s winners: Sof Sears (C’23), who studied “death culture” in Paris, and Drew Basile (C’23), who followed the path of Goethe’s famous 1786 tour through Italy.

2021-2022 Grant Recipients: Grace Leahy and Ian McCormack

Heled Travel and Research Grants enable students to travel and conduct research for significant writing projects. Join us for presentations by two Heled Grant recipients: Grace Leahy and Ian McCormack. Grace Leahy thought she was going to Moscow for a research project. Then, she thought she was going to London for grad school. But in the end, she moved to Los Angeles to be a producer’s assistant with a couple weeks’ notice. Her Heled Grant piece is an attempt at processing all this. For his Heled grant, Ian McCormack travelled across state lines in pursuit of abandoned psychiatric centers. He explored them, day and night, in a sometimes frightening but always interesting road trip, and ended up writing some sometimes frightening but always interesting stories.

Grace Leahy graduated from Penn in the winter of 2020 with a double major in English and Cinema & Media Studies. The photo to the left was taken from her apartment on 42nd street, which she misses very much. She also misses the Writers House. And Nicola Gentili. Currently, Grace is based in Los Angeles, pursuing a career in film & television.

Ian McCormack graduated from Penn with a major in History and a minor in Creative Writing. He enjoys spooky stuff and adventuring in unlikely places. He is now based in Manchester, NH, working in board game publishing.

2019-2020 Grant Recipients: Sonali Deliwala and Isami McCowan

Heled Travel and Research Grants enable students to travel and conduct research for significant writing projects. Join us for presentations by two Heled Grant recipients: Sonali Deliwala and Isami McCowan. Sonali Deliwala will present some of her research into the Valsad tribe, just outside of Mumbai India. Isami McCowan will present on the history and culture of the Izu Islands.

2018-2019 Grant Recipient: Caroline Harris (C'19)

Winner of the 2018–2019 Heled Travel and Research Grant, Caroline Harris is a senior studying English and Creative Writing. She is passionate about poetry. This summer she traveled to Japan to research the haiku poet Matsuo Basho. Caroline hiked over 100 miles of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, beginning in Osaka and ending in Ise. As part of her research, Caroline stayed in Buddhist monasteries and learned about Zen Buddhism. Her project investigated the intersection of poets and pilgrims, and the significance of pilgrimage in the 21st century.

2017-2018 Grant Recipient: Rodney Dailey (C'19)

Rodney E. Dailey II (C'19) is the 2016–2017 recipient of the Terry B. Heled Travel & Research Grant. His book of poems and essays Another Morning in London brings together shards of experience he collected while traveling through London and deposits them in odd, disjointed, and sometimes funny ways.

2016-2017 Grant Recipient: Casey Quackenbush (C'17)

Winner of the 2016–17 Heled Travel and Research Grant, Casey Quackenbush is a senior studying diplomatic history and journalism. She is also fascinated by cheese. So for a journalism class, she wrote a story in a non-fiction writing course on how mounting FDA regulations of bacteria levels in cheese fabrication were not only stifling the American artisan cheese industry, but also banned some of the most sought-after cheeses in the world from the US. With this research as a launching point, she used the prize to investigate cheese-making in France using cheese as a lens to reveal cultural, historical, and political differences. The project involved hiking to different cheese farms around Mont Blanc to shadow farmers and learn about their techniques and traditions.

2015-2016 Grant Recipient: Kristen Kelly

Kristen Kelly, our 2015-16 Heled Travel and Research Grant recipient, was inspired to research early Chinese American immigration stories along the West Coast (from San Fran to Seattle), after inheriting boxes of photographs, letters, and immigration documentation from her late grandmother. Thanks to the Heled grant, Kristen studied and wrote about her own family's immigration from Guangdong Province in China, and connected her personal story to a greater network of immigrant narratives.

2014-2015 Grant Recipient: Amanda Shulman (C'17)

Thanks to the Heled Travel Grant, Amanda Schulman spent the summer with Italian truffle farmers and ended up digging up a story rich with intrigue surrounding the hunt for these complex fungi. What is the historical lure of the black summer truffle? How do Italians from various regions prepare them? Listen to the program to find out!

Amanda Shulman is a junior at Penn and the author of, where she shares recipes and her culinary adventures. Amanda studied classical French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu and used her Heled Research and Travel Grant to travel to various locations in Italy this summer, delving into the world of the mysterious black summer truffle. She hunted for truffles with truffle farmers and their trained hunting dogs and also learned how to incorporate them into different region's distinct cuisines.

2013-2014 Grant Recipient: Shaj Mathew (C'14)

Shaj Mathew is a senior Comparative Literature major with concentrations in Spanish and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. The Heled Travel G rant allowed him to travel to Barcelona in the summer of 2013 to research the life and work of novelist Roberto Bolaño for a literary essay melding travelogue, literary criticism, and personal reflection. Deeply interested in the violence of Bolaño's work, Mathew re-traced Bolaño's last years last years, visited an exhibition of Bolaño's previously unpublished manuscripts at the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Center, and spent time developing impressions of Barcelona.

2012-2013 Grant Recipient: Michael Morse (C'13)

Though the support of the Heled Travel grant, Michael Morse spent two weeks in Germany, travelling with artist Gunter Demnig and documenting the ongoing memorialization of the Holocaust. Demnig's work presents many interesting questions about how artists engage with a public whose family members were likely National Socialists. Michael presentation about his travels will allow him to describe and share some of his own experience exploring Germany and witnessing the ongoing debate about how we remember, how we mourn, how we empathize, and how we can find a better future.

In Berlin, there are massive museums such as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and education centers such as the Topography of Terror. These have their own complicated histories and controversies about what is necessary and when is enough. But there are also minor memorials such as a sculpture consisting of just a desk and a chair in a park, an underground room with burned books visible through glass tiles, a series of signs in a suburb documenting each Nazi law, and even an invisible memorial, with victims' names buried beneath the pavement. Gunter Demnig is sixty-five-year-old artist, born in Berlin just a few years after liberation. He's a German artist who has installed over 35,000 street memorials to murdered Jews, by himself, over the last fifteen years. He calls the brass blocks, which he paves into the street, “stolpersteine,” or “stumbling stones,” for they often jolt our memory. The stones display a victim's name, date of birth, and date of death. They've been banned in Munich and Leipzig, and yet Demnig continues his work to remind Germans that their houses and their streets were sites of terror. He spends at least 300 days of the year on the road and he will only accept donations from fellow Germans. This is very much a project of national education, and yet Jews come from around the world to see Demnig dig the hole and place the stone, a grave-of-sorts for the many without one.

2011-2012 Grant Recipient: Katie Sanders (C'12)

Despite growing up in a suburb the FBI has repeatedly named the "Safest City in America," Katie Sanders has always been fascinated by prisons. The Heled Travel Grant enabled Katie to transform her unusual interest into an extended writing project by providing her with the means to visit prisons and spend time with some of teh people most affected by mass incarceration. In northern California, Katie interviewed the former warden of San Quentin, the state's oldest prison, which houses the nation's largest death row. Later, New York City became her research hub as she followed several leads to develop a comparative analysis of the penal system. Katie is currently at work on a long-form magazine feature about a family of three high-achieving siblings from the Bronx whose mother has been incarcerated since 1999 and is not eligible for parole until at least 2023.

2010-2011 Grant Recipient: Ned Eisenberg (C'11)

1. ("Floating World") the urban lifestyle, especially the pleasure-seeking aspects, of Edo-period Japan (1600–1867).
2. ("Sorrowful World") the earthly plane of death and rebirth from which Buddhists sought release.

The Tokyo metropolis is, by any account, a modern wonder. Easily the most crowded city in the world, Tokyo exemplifies all that you'd expect from a futuristic megalopolis: compact living space, a mechanized service industry, and a historic emphasis on social conformity. Yet this miracle city is just a microcosm of a larger Japanese miracle. Since opening its borders to foreign trade in 1868, the Japanese nation drastically exceeded the world's expectations over the course of the 20th century, first militaristically and, later, economically. Yet in spite of the nation's inarguable modernity, Japanese society remains paradoxical, retaining a strong sense of secularism and ethnic purity while simultaneously embracing the Internet and globalization. The result is a blossoming Japanese counterculture, the likes and extremities of which are unprecedented in a society accustomed to homogeneity.

Recipient of the 2010 Terry B Heled Travel Grant, senior Ned Eisenberg will be speaking about his 11-day stay in Tokyo, during which he gave up access to the Internet and set out to document the topography of Tokyo's counterculture. Inspired by duplicate homophonic translations of "Ukiyo", Ned relates the paradoxical nature of Tokyo, a city at once endlessly diverting and, at times, inescapably lonely. Aside from conducting this program at the Kelly Writer's House, Ned is drawing on his travel experience in a long-form travel log, which he hopes to have published in the coming year.

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2009-2010 Grant Recipient: Emma Morgenstern (C'10)

Emma Morgenstern, a linguistics major and the editor/founder of the food writing magazine Penn Appetit, traveled to Rhodes and Thessaloniki to study the survival of Judeo-Spanish language and culture in Greece. Emma presented her work at the Writers House on January 19, 2010.

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2008-2009 Grant Recipient: Alicia Puglionesi (C'09)

The first ever winner of the Heled Travel and Research Grant, Alicia Puglionesi, researched the "Ghost Army" of World War II, an exceptional U.S. army unit who created a traveling road show—as actors with props—to deceive the German Army about the strength and location of U.S. forces. Alica presented her work at the Writers House on February 2, 2009.

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