Flooding, Drought, Urban Design: Nate Millington's Studies in Brazil

By Clark Bellar

(April 23, 2015) — University of Kentucky doctoral student Nate Millington recently received the U.S. Department of Education's Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship and will travel to São Paulo, Brazil, this June  to study flooding and its effects on the city's urban design and its people. Millington will study at the University of São Paulo (USP) and will return March 2016.

"USP is one of the biggest institutions in the country with around 80,000 students and is one of the best universities in Latin America. I'm especially excited to be working with people in the USP Department of Geography as well as in the school of architecture and urbanism," Millington said.  

Originally from Vienna, Virginia, Millington has a long time interest in Portuguese, the language of Brazil, as well as a love for travel, cities and international research.

"Despite the problems that are visible in places like São Paulo, I think we in the U.S. have a lot to learn from Brazilian cities," Millington said. "For instance, one of my favorite places in the city is called the Minhocão. It is an elevated highway that cuts through the center of the city, but at night and on the weekends it is closed to automobile traffic and becomes a wildly popular public space."

Millington studies in the Department of Geography at UK College of Arts and Sciences, focusing on the ways nature and natural systems interact with man-made environments, specifically within cities. While in São Paulo, Millington will focus his research on riverside park projects designed to prevent flooding in working class neighborhoods located on the outskirts of the city.

On the other end of the hydrologic spectrum, Millington will also study how the recent severe drought in São Paulo is affecting citizens who are dealing with water shortages.

"As a result, my research is changing and expanding as the water crisis unfolds, and I'll be spending much of my time there analyzing what sorts of solutions are being talked about and implemented," Millington said. He plans to interview residents, state employees and activists involved in urban issues, water activism and public space in order to continue his previous research as well as begin new projects.

In addition to the Fulbright-Hays award, Millington previously received a Fulbright Student Program Fellowship by the U.S. Department of State which took him to Brazil for the first time in 2014.

"I'm really humbled to have received both fellowships and owe a lot of that to the support I've received from my advisor, my committee and the geography department here at UK," said Millington.

The Fulbright-Hays program provides grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries, in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months.

Millington, who hopes to receive his doctorate in 2016, plans to teach at the university level and continue his writing and research.   

Millington applied for the Fulbright-Hays through the UK Graduate School. The dissertation funding is one of several resources available through the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright programming for students. For more information on other Fulbright programming, UK students can contact the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards

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