Adding to the awards for her innovative research into religious minorities, UC Santa Cruz anthropology Ph.D. candidate Sarah Bakker is one of 21 national winners of a coveted fellowship for scholars working on dissertations that involve religious themes.

The Newcombe Fellowships, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, is the nation's largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Bakker said the $25,000 fellowship means she will be able to write her dissertation over the next year without having to teach or TA. Of 550 candidates, 21 winners were selected. They attend 13 of the top universities in the nation.

Bakker is Dutch and American by birth, and as a scholar has had a long fascination with Christianity. Her work involves the Syriac Orthodox Christian community in the Netherlands, refugees from the Middle East who have fled violent conflict in their native countries. Her dissertation is titled "Fragments of a Liturgical world: Syriac Christianity and the Dutch Multiculturalism Debates."

A year ago, she was the first UCSC student to win the Paper Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. Previously, she won major grants in support of her research including the Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship and the Wenner-Gren Foundation's Dissertation Research Fellowship for anthropological research.

If all goes to plan, Bakker expects to graduate next year. This quarter she is teaching Writing 2 in the writing program, the fourth quarter she has done so. She taught Anthropology of Europe during the winter quarter and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology last summer.