Ben also notified us of the loss of a former student, Tarlise Townsend, and shares this:
“One of our most remarkable and warmly remembered students in Germanic Studies, Tarlise (Tarlie) Townsend, passed away from cancer this May. She was 31 years old and had just received a faculty position at NYU, where she had finished a post doc at the Center for Opioid Epidemiology and Policy.
She began taking classes with us in 2008 as a senior at Edgewood High in Ellettsville. When she joined IU as a Wells Scholar the following year, she majored in Germanic Studies and Neuroscience, later spending a year abroad in Freiburg, and eventually writing an honors thesis in our department that examined the impact of German school tracking policies on equitable life chances. Her thesis won a Provost Undergraduate Research Award in 2012, the year she graduated summa cum laude from IU. After spending a year at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin on a DAAD fellowship, she switched venues—but maintained her focus on the topic of decision-making under conditions of uncertainty—to Vietnam, where she spent another year, on a Luce Fellowship, navigating between ministerial bureaucracies in Hanoi and rice paddies in the Mekong Delta, seeking to gauge the effect of climate communication on the environmental practices of rice farmers (and particularly women) threatened by sea level rise. In 2015 she began graduate studies at the University of Michigan, receiving her PhD in Health Services Organization and Policy and Sociology in 2020, with a focus on effectively responding to the opioid epidemic in the United States.
To recollect a bit more personally, I can say that whenever I mentioned Tarlie to anyone, if they knew her at all, they lit up with enthusiasm and admiration. Even a brief meeting with Tarlie over coffee filled me with a genuine sense of optimism. Her energy and generosity invariably opened up so many prospects and opportunities to engage with the world. Tarlie was not only an incredibly energetic achiever, she was a mensch in the truest sense of the Yiddish word. It was a real blessing that Tarlie found her way to our department so we could share in the joy and vitality she brought to the world.”