Tibet Center Fellows

The Tibet Center’s Fellows program involves scholars and practitioners in Tibetan Studies who have a long-term relationship with the University of Virginia. They generally do not teach courses, since they have other professional responsibilities thornton_courtpreventing semester-long residences. However, they are vital members of UVa’s Tibetan and Himalayan programs through research collaborations, social networking, and other innovative activities. As a whole, they exemplify how UVa functions as a dynamic nexus of partners working in different social sectors and spheres throughout the world, but with common intellectual concerns. Tibet Center Fellows tend to be involved in multiple sectors of activity, and demonstrate the virtue and power of linking research to engagement. However, fellows tend to focus to varying degrees on either research or engagement in their profiles, which we express through the categories of “Research Fellows” and “Fellows,” respectively.

Research Fellows

John Ardussi
John Ardussi is a scholar of Bhutanese and Tibetan history and culture as well as an electrical engineer in aerospace electronics. He is in the process of completing two major projects: co-editing Written Treasures of Bhutan: Mirror of the Past and Bridge to the Future and The Royal Chronicle of Sikkim. Dr. Ardussi also researches technology, and economics as interrelated factors in Himalayan and Tibetan history.
John Vincent Bellezza
John Vincent Bellezza is one of the leading experts in the world on Tibetan archaeology and the early history and prehistory of Tibetan religion and culture. He has traveled widely for two decades in remote areas of northern and western Tibet to hundreds of sites, many never before visited by an academic researcher. He has documented and analyzed these archaeological sites in a series of major monographs that have shed important new light on the ancient Tibetan religion, literature, funerary traditions, and more. His books include Zhang Zhung, Calling Down the Gods, Antiquities of Upper Tibet, Antiquities of Northern Tibet, and Divine Dyads. Available on www.thlib.org are two additional works, Antiquities of Zhang Zhung, vol. 1 and Antiquities of Zhang Zhung, vol. 2.
Kunchok Gyaltsen
A Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia, Dr. Kunchok Gyaltsen is a leading specialist Tibetan medicine and healthcare. He is also the first Tibetan Buddhist monk to obtain a PhD in public health (UCLA School of Public Health). He also holds masters degrees in Primary Health Care Management from ASEAN Institute for Health Development at Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, and in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Training in Vermont. He has published and lectured widely in the U.S. and elsewhere on the holistic approach of Tibetan medicine. His lectures integrate his extensive knowledge of medical theory, history and practice combined with Buddhist ethics. Dr. Gyaltsen is also the founder of the Tibetan Healing Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides basic education and primary health care to rural Tibetan women and children.
Manla Kyi
Manlaji(Manla Kyi)is a research fellow at the University of Virginia. Originally from Amdo Tibet, she has taught English at the Nationalities University in Qinghai Province, and later worked as a program officer for an international NGO focusing on various projects promoting the use of Tibetan language as the main medium of instruction in Tibetan schools. She holds a Masters of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her doctorate dissertation at the Hong Kong University focuses on the discourse of bilingual education in official language policy documents in relation to the shifting trends in Chinese national minority policy frameworks and nation-state building.
Tashi Rabgey
Tashi Rabgey is a Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a Fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on US-China Relations. From 2008-11, she was a Lecturer in Contemporary Tibetan Studies at the University of Virginia’s Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures and Cultures, during which she also served as co-director of the UVa Tibet Center.  She is a specialist in Sino-Tibetan affairs and has taught comparative politics and global development studies. She holds a PhD from Harvard University, specializing in political and legal anthropology, as well as law degrees from Oxford and Cambridge where she studied as a Rhodes scholar.  She is also cofounder and strategic director of Machik, a nonprofit organization that works to empower communities in Tibet.


Tudeng Nima
A UVa Senior Fellow since 2003, Tudeng Nima is one of the great traditional scholars of Tibetan Buddhism and literature from the older generation of Tibetans. He presided over the development of The Great Dictionary of Tibetan and Chinese (bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo), probably the best dictionary for Tibetan written in the twentieth century, as well as its translation into English. Remarkably, he also presided over the huge Tibetan Canons initiative based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, which created comparative editions of the main Tibetan Buddhist canon – the Kangyur and Tengyur. He is currently a key figure in the preservation of Tibetan literature through his efforts to locate unique copies of texts and make high-quality published editions.
Losang Rabgey
A UVa Senior Fellow since 2006, Dr. Losang Rabgey is a founder and executive director of Machik, a non-profit organization that works to develop opportunities for education, capacity-building and innovation on the Tibetan plateau. Losang holds a PhD in gender studies and anthropology from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, where she was a Canadian Commonwealth Scholar. In 2006, Losang was recognized as an Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic Society for her innovative work in bridging cultural divides. In addition to her creative development of Machik work, Losang also serves on the International Advisory Board of Shem USA and was a founding member of Mechak, the first online gallery of contemporary Tibetan art. Her current research interests include social entrepreneurship and rural community development in Tibet. Losang was selected by the Asia Society as a Young Leader in 2007.
Tseten Wangchuk
Tseten Wangchuk was formerly a research scholar of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing. He has a master’s degree in public affairs from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and is now senior producer of Kunleng, the only Tibetan-language television program outside of the PRC. Tseten Wangchuk was born and raised in Lhasa.