Funded Fellowship Enables Anthropology Undergraduates to Conduct Research Abroad

Jonathan F. Plimpton (ADL ’70)

Jonathan F. Plimpton (ADL ’70)

For undergraduate students in the department of anthropology, the opportunity to conduct funded research abroad is made possible by a generous gift from Jonathan F. Plimpton (ADL ’70). Mr. Plimpton, the Managing Director for Plimpton & Co and partner with CDI Global, credits his undergraduate major in anthropology for laying the groundwork for his distinguished international business career by developing the ethnographic lens through which he applied his MBA degree from the University of Chicago.

Established in 2007, the Jonathan F. Plimpton Experiential Learning Fellowship is an application-based opportunity that provides up to $4,000 to declared anthropology majors who have earned at least a 3.0 GPA and have a project with a clearly defined anthropological relevance and budget. The funds can also be used to support Senior Capstones or be used to support an experience or project conducted in conjunction with Junior Year Abroad.

Mr. Plimpton not only wanted undergraduate anthropology majors to have the opportunity to have a meaningful experience in another culture, but he also wanted to provide needed funding for students to conduct independent research projects, giving preference to those with a business-related focus.

The fellowship makes a clear difference in the lives and careers of its recipients, the Jonathan F. Plimpton Experiential Learning Fellows, explains Imshan Dhrolia, who was awarded funds in 2017. Dhrolia is a senior (class of 2018) who is completing the BA in Medical Anthropology and a Master’s in Public Health simultaneously through CWRU’s integrated graduate studies program. 

Imshan Dhrolia's research centered around the women who occupy the lowest tier of the tobacco labor industry. Their job includes hand-rolling a popular native cigarette called a bidi. Here Imshan is photographed with a groups of bidi rollers with whom he worked closely for his research.

Imshan Dhrolia’s research centered around the women who occupy the lowest tier of the tobacco labor industry. Their job includes hand-rolling a popular native cigarette called a bidi. Here Imshan is photographed with a group of bidi rollers with whom he worked closely for his research.

The fellowship’s financial support enabled Dhrolia to conduct his first independent, international ethnographic project. The research brought Dhrolia to India where he completed a study entitled Ethnographic findings on the State of Beedi Rolling in Maharashtra, India: Lessons from the Socioeconomic Impact of Public Health Initiatives.

As Dhrolia outlines in his abstract, “Global public health anti-tobacco initiatives have made significant headway in India. This is considered a significant public health achievement, and existing literature has outlined the policy and sociocultural changes driving the success of this movement. The adverse ramifications of the anti-tobacco movement and the changing sociopolitical landscape disproportionately burden female beedi rollers who are already one of the most vulnerable populations in the unorganized labor industry. Even so, there is a distinct paucity of research on the effect of current trends in the tobacco industry in the context of beedi rollers.” Dhrolia’s research addresses this scarcity and contributes to a growing body of literature that he hopes will be used to inform future policy decisions and public health endeavors. 

When asked to reflect upon his experience, Dhrolia explained, “the fellowship allowed me the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime experience conducting research in India. The experience, skills, and lessons that I learned through my time abroad will shape my academic and professional career for years to come, and could not have been gained without fully immersing myself in the communities I was studying. This experience has had tremendous impact on me as a student, as a researcher, and as future health professional. It is this same support of current students and dedication to the pursuit of impactful research that has been such a defining characteristic of my love for CWRU as a learning institution. Now, as I prepare for medical school, I find myself reflecting on these qualities and seeking them in the programs to which I have applied.” Dhrolia is still in the medical school application process and looks forward to making a final decision this May.

Outside of classes, Dhrolia served as the Lead Medical Anthropologist for an interdisciplinary, international student group called the Global Health Design Collaborative. Using ethnography and other anthropological tools to supplement and inform the engineering design process, they identified the need for and created an innovative neonatal/pediatric triage pulse oximeter for use in international relief settings. The device will soon undergo testing with the Department of Family Medicine at University Hospitals.

Dhrolia is one example of the dozens of students that the Jonathan F. Plimpton Experiential Learning Fellowship has supported since 2007. We are grateful for Mr. Plimpton’s generosity towards the College of Arts and Sciences and its students. Opportunities for self-directed, hands-on research are vital and transformational. We are proud to have dedicated funding to support social scientists in the department of anthropology.  

Make a planned gift – Create a fellowship


The minimum to establish an endowed fellowship for undergraduate or graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences is $25,000. There are many ways to make a planned gift including, by bequest, IRA Rollover, charitable gift annuity, charitable remainder unitrust, charitable remainder annuity trust, charitable lead trust and more. To learn more about your planned giving options, such as the potential tax benefits or the opportunities to support a cause about which you are passionate, contact Elizabeth Klein, Director of National Giving at 216.368.5764 |

Make a gift of any size in support of the Jonathan F. Plimpton Experiential Learning Fellowship


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