Fresh Insight Spurred into Buddhism Globally as 18 International Scholars Awarded 2014/15 Grants under The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies

New Research Fellowships Available for 2015/16

(12th May, 2015 – Hong Kong)

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation announced today that 18 scholars, who are seeking to shed fresh light on a range of Buddhism-related subjects, have been selected for grants under The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies.

Grantees come from leading universities worldwide, including Harvard (US), Berkeley (US), École Française d’Extrême-Orient (France), Fudan (China) and the University of Tokyo (Japan), and comprise PhD candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and collaborative research fellows. Their wide-ranging in-depth explorations extend to many different Buddhist traditions and countries in Asia, involving Cambodia, Thailand, Japan and India, among others. They also cross many academic disciplines, strengthening the international and interdisciplinary network of Buddhist studies and enhancing its global impact.

The Program, conceived by the Foundation, administered by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and open to scholars and institutions internationally, seeks to expand the understanding, interpretation and application of Buddhist philosophy in contemporary scholarship and society.

Grantees for 2014/15, the second year of the competitive award scheme, were chosen from 81 worldwide applications. Selection followed rigorous peer review, organized by the ACLS. Awards were made in three categories:

  • The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies
  • The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies
  • The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


“We believe that Buddhism has a vital role to play in addressing today’s challenges,” Foundation Chairman Mr. Robert Y. C. Ho said. “We are committing substantial resources to strengthening teaching and scholarship about Buddhism in modern society at leading universities worldwide. This is an important step towards realizing my family’s vision of developing a Buddhist learning network to further the study of Buddhist philosophy and broaden its impact in the 21st century.”

ACLS President Dr. Pauline Yu said: “It is a great source of satisfaction to ACLS, and to me personally, to see the stimulating effect that this Program is having on the international field of Buddhist studies. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation’s investment in graduate students and scholars will pay intellectual dividends for decades to come.”

To strengthen networking among Fellows and engage a wider community in discussion of Buddhist Studies, ACLS, with support from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, will organise a three-day symposium (July 7-9) on Buddhist Studies Today. The symposium will be hosted by the University of British Columbia, bringing together the Program’s inaugural cohort of early career Dissertation Fellows to present their work-in-progress after a full year of research. Peers, mentors and senior scholars will participate in critical discussions and share intellectual interests. The symposium will also include a roundtable at which senior scholars will assess the state of the field of Buddhist studies and bring new perspectives to the field.


List of 2014/15 Grantees

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

This category provides one-year stipends for PhD candidates to devote themselves full time to preparing their dissertations. The fellowship period may be used for fieldwork, archival research, analysis of findings, or for writing after research is complete. The 11 Dissertation Fellows for 2015 and their projects are:

  • Kris L. Anderson (Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley) The Sarvadurgatiparisodhana Tantra and the Roots of Tantric Buddhist Funerary Ritual
  • Linda Chhath (Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison) Ethics of Independence: Buddhist Cosmopolitanism in Cambodia, 1953-1970
  • Jack Meng-Tat Chia (History, Cornell University) Diasporic Dharma: Buddhism and Modernity across the South China Sea
  • Anthony Irwin (Religions of Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison) Building Buddhism in Chiang Rai, Thailand: Construction as Religion
  • Shanshan Jia (Indology, Hamburg University, Germany) A Critical Edition of the Last Chapter of the Lankavatarasutra with an Annotated Translation and a Study of the Lankavatarasutra
  • Matthew Don McMullen (Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley) The Development of Esoteric Buddhist Scholasticism in Early Medieval Japan
  • Kamilla Mojzes (Tibetan Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany) The Fourth Zhwa-Dmar-Pa Incarnate: A Comprehensive Study of the Life and Works of Chos-Grags Ye-Shes Dpal Bzang-po (1453 -1524)
  • Renqingduojie (Religious Studies, University of Virginia) Buddhist Monasticism in Northeastern Tibet
  • Javier Schanke (History Texts and Documents, École Pratique des Hautes Études, France) Dhamma through Letters: The Vajirasaratthasangaha, a 16th Century Pali Text from Northern Thailand
  • Lina Verchery (Buddhist Studies, Harvard University) The Fajie Fojiao Zonghui: Rethinking Fundamentalism, Modernity, and Moral Selfhood
  • Wei Wu (Religion, Princeton University) Seeking Dharma from Tibet: Indigenization of Tibetan Buddhism in Twentieth Century China


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

This category provides two years of funding to recent PhD recipients for residence at a university for the purpose of revising their dissertations into publishable manuscripts or for beginning their first new projects after completing their PhD degrees. The three 2015 postdoctoral fellows and their projects are:

  • Marion Dapsance (Anthropology, Independent Scholar) for residence at Columbia University Alexandra David-Néel as a Buddhist Saint, Intellectual, and Missionary: A French Woman's Influence on Modern Buddhism
  • Maya Kerstin Hyun Stiller (Art History, University of Kansas) for residence at Harvard University Transformational Journeys and Encounters: Pilgrimages to Kumgangsan in Early Modern Korea (1650-1900)
  • Juan Wu (Indian and Buddhist Studies, University of Tokyo) for residence at Leiden University Royals across Religious Boundaries: A Comparative Study of Stories of Shared Royal Personages in Indian Buddhism and Jainism


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

This category supports interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary works, projects that relate different Buddhist traditions to each other or that relate Buddhist scholarship to contemporary concerns in other academic fields. The Collaborative Fellows in 2015 and their projects are:

  • Rostislav Berezkin (Fudan University, China) and Lan Nguyen (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences) The Transmission and Influence of a Buddhist Story in Vietnam: A Case Study of the Precious Scroll of Incense Mountain
  • Jose Ignacio Cabezon (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Penpa Dorjee (Central University of Tibetan Studies, India) A Study of Sera Monastery
  • Arlo Griffiths (Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, France), Stefan Baums (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany), Ingo Strauch (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland), Vincent Tournier (SOAS, University of London, UK), and Julian Wheatley (Independent Scholar) From Vijayapuri to Sriksetra: The Beginnings of Buddhist Exchange across the Bay of Bengal as Witnessed by Inscriptions from Andhra Pradesh and Myanmar
  • Andrew Quintman (Yale University) and Kurtis Schaeffer (University of Virginia) The Life of the Buddha at Jonang Monastery in Tibet: Art, Literature, and Institution


Applications for 2015/16 will open in July with the addition of a new category – The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies. This category encourages the production of new knowledge by enabling scholars, who are working beyond the post-doctoral career stage, to fully concentrate on research and writing. Program information is available at


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation

The Foundation was established in Hong Kong in 2005 by Robert Hung Ngai Ho and his family as a private philanthropic organization to promote understanding of Buddhism through Buddhist studies, art and culture. Its programmes include the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School; a centre and an endowed professorship in Buddhist studies at Stanford University; a Buddhist Studies Programme at University of Toronto Scarborough; an endowed chair and program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society at the University of British Columbia; the Centre for Buddhist art and conservation at The Courtauld Institute of Art; the Gallery of Buddhist Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum and various exhibitions of Chinese and Buddhist art around the world.


About the American Council of Learned Societies

The American Council of Learned Societies is a federation of 72 scholarly societies devoted to the promotion of the humanities and related social sciences. In all of its competitions in 2014-15, ACLS awarded more than US$16 million in research fellowships.

Media enquiry:
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation
Janet Tong
+852 2232 0001