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March 24, 2000 

Fellowship winner to travel coastlines, write book

When she graduates from Princeton University in May, Alaska native Lilith Wood will begin an unusual journey: a trip through America’s fishing towns to write a book about women who fish for a living.

Wood, from Petersburg, Alaska, has won this year’s Martin A. Dale Fellowship, a $20,000 grant meant to allow an outstanding Princeton senior to pursue a year-long independent project.

Never one to follow conventional paths, Wood is majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, loves science and history, and plans to be a writer. Through the Dale Fellowship, Wood will have a unique opportunity to pull those interests together.

In her application, selected by a committee of Princeton deans, faculty members and administrators, Wood proposed traveling the U.S. coasts, talking to women who make a living fishing and weaving their stories into a book. The central person in the book will be a family friend, an 80-year-old woman who was a successful commercial fisherwoman in Alaska.

"I grew up playing on fish cannery equipment, so it's kind of in my blood," Wood explains. While at Princeton, Wood spent her summers back in Alaska working at fishing operations and canneries.

"I will be as much a character in my book as the fishingwomen," Wood wrote in her proposal. "It will be a piece of creative non-fiction. It will be the story of an Alaskan kid who travels the coastline of America in the year 2000, to talk with the women who harvest the oceans."

At Princeton, Wood has written articles for the Nassau Weekly, Vigil, Princeton Journal of Foreign Affairs and the Alumni Weekly. She was prose editor of Vent literary magazine and managing editor of the Princeton Journal of Foreign Affairs.

In her writing and coursework, Wood has drawn on her experience growing up in Petersburg, a small fishing town. Her senior thesis, for example, is titled "A Natural History of Peat Bogs," and explores the ecosystem of the peat bogs that surround Petersburg.