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Fulbright faculty

July 15, 2014

Ohio State fielded a record number of Fulbright Scholars during the 2013-14 academic year. Learn more about these faculty members' projects and experiences with this interactive map showing their work around the world.

Ohio State, a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, is welcoming home a record number of faculty members who conducted research and shared meaningful exchanges with peers around the world.

“The Fulbright is a very prestigious award, so it means a lot to Ohio State,” says Joanna Kukielka-Blaser, international relations program director at the Office of International Affairs and the campus representative for the Fulbright Scholar Program. She helps Fulbright applicants pull together their materials and offers a cache of resources and contacts nationally.

“(Fulbright grants are) important because it is an opportunity for faculty and students to engage with the world, to participate in research and teaching,” she says. “We are a global university, and the program creates opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in just about any place in the world.”

Fourteen faculty members received Fulbright grants in 2013-14 to study everything from atomic physics to Zulu beadwork to parasitic diseases in Central and South America. Some returned just this month.

The Fulbright grant enabled Ann O’Connell, a professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology, to return to Africa. There, she worked on issues facing primary- and secondary-students and teachers in Ethiopia.

“It is inspiring to work alongside people who believe in the power of education as the primary lever for improving people’s lives in their country,” she says, “and to have contributed in some small way to help in that endeavor. While I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish, there is significant work left undone.”

For applicants considering the Fulbright program, Kukielka-Blaser recommends working with the Office of International Affairs, which serves to help faculty members find the right program.

“It changes every year and it’s a very dynamic program,” she says. “Through the years, I have accumulated resources that I can now share with other applicants.”

Student applications and awards are on the rise at the university, too.

Next up: Fourteen Ohio State students are preparing to embark on their Fulbright programs to study, research or teach abroad during the 2014-15 academic year.

Dr. Brad McGwire, a professor in the College of Medicine, studied the development of parasites that transmit a common disease in Central and South America. Faculty and students should consider applying for Fulbright grants because of the international educational benefits.

“Studying abroad provides invaluable and memorable experiences that are unique, interesting and challenging,” McGwire says. “The rewards are many, both personally and professionally. You will make new friends and open up unforeseen doors in life.”


Carol Boram-Hays

Art History, The Ohio State University at Marion
Johannesburg, South Africa

Art can reveal so much about a culture, and preserving a specific form for future generations brought Boram-Hays to Johannesburg, South Africa.

There, she researched beadwork of the Zulu people. She believes that deep knowledge about this common art form is unknown to people under 50, and she wanted to collect information before older generations are gone.

“The most interesting part of my current research is to see how many younger people are interested in returning to older traditions. Overall, I am gaining a better understanding of this art form and its cultural significance.”

Philip Brown

College of Arts and Sciences
Jianan, Taiwan

Water is essential for life, and Brown saw the transformative power it has had for farming and communities in Taiwan.

Brown studied the Chianan Daishu Water Control Project, the largest water control project in the country, affecting a region of 370,000 acres.

He examined construction and the long-term impact of the project, with an eye toward cultural implications. His finding: The project reflects local identities within Taiwan and the nation's strong sentiment to be autonomous.

“I am helping to provide a broader context for understanding both historical and contemporary East Asian international relationships.”

Alcira Dueñas

College of Arts and Sciences
Quito, Ecuador

Legal systems created by founding generations often serve as the bedrock for modern societies, and Dueñas examined how changes occurred in Ecuador's legal system during colonial times.

At Ecuador's colonial archives, she researched the legal practices of indigenous officials in regional high courts. Dueñas gathered historical context around the country's transgressions to Spanish law. She then led workshops for high school teachers and doctoral students about the wealth of archival documents available.

"They received training in how to read and interpret such documentation and how to devise small research projects for their students to develop at the local archive," she says.

H. Lisle Gibbs

College of Arts and Sciences
São Paulo, Brazil

Gibbs advanced research about one of the most deadly snakes in the Amazon, which could increase the odds of survival for victims of its bite.

Working with colleagues in São Paulo, Brazil, Gibbs analyzed genetic data to identify the evolutionary causes of variation in snake venom composition. The information gathered from this study will help generate novel antivenom therapies.

“Envenomation by snake bite is a significant medical issue in countries like Brazil. Developing an effective antivenom requires understanding how and why venom varies in natural snake populations."

Parwinder Grewal

College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Stockholm, Sweden

Helping cities become self-reliant for food, energy and renewable resources is Grewal's passion.

As a Fulbright Scholar, he worked at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The international and interdisciplinary research center examines the complexities that exist between social and ecological systems at work in our world.

Grewal shared his ideas around resilient urban food systems with colleagues in Stockholm. He says, "I discovered that my research on below-ground biodiversity and soil food webs has a bright future."

Kenneth Kolson

John Glenn School of Public Affairs
Šiauliai, Lithuania

Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union until roughly 25 years ago, and Kolson believes his work as a Fulbright Scholar will help build a healthy civic culture there.

Kolson, the former director of the John Glenn School of Public Affair's Washington Academic Internship Program, shared the insights of policymaking in the United States with students at Šiauliai University.

“People here need to unlearn a few things, especially about the meaning of public service. Lithuanians can profit from the U.S. experience, including our mistakes, and need not repeat them," he says.

Dr. Brad McGwire

College of Medicine
Cariamanga, Ecuador

As a Fulbright Scholar near Cariamanga, Ecuador, McGwire studied a serious tropical disease transmitted by a sweetly named bug.

Chagas disease, a common Central and South American ailment transmitted by the bite of blood-feeding insects commonly referred to as kissing bugs, can lead to a host of medical problems, including heart failure. McGwire studied the mechanisms of parasite development in both field- and lab-based studies.

“This is important with regard to developing ongoing collaborations. These are hopefully long-lasting and formative connections to help better understand and combat this disease.”

Ann O'Connell

College of Education and Human Ecology
Addis Adaba, Ethiopia

O’Connell taught statistics and research methods courses to faculty and graduate students at Addis Adaba University’s College of Education and Behavioral Studies.

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries of the world and has an adult literacy rate of 39 percent. O’Connell hoped to contribute to improving research quality in education and related areas.

“I met and worked with amazing, dedicated university scholars and teachers, and I now have a much better understanding of the issues facing primary- and secondary-school pupils and teachers, and those of my university counterparts, in Ethiopia.”

Stephen Petrill

College of Arts and Sciences
Moscow and Tomsk, Russia

Problems with reading, writing and arithmetic may have more to do with genetics and environment than a person's intellect, according to Petrill.

In Moscow and Tomsk, Russia, Petrill and his research team focused on achievement in math. Specifically, they examined numeric processing as well as neurobiological measures of mathematical anxiety.

“It has been an amazing experience working in Russia. The country is so vast and varied, and my colleagues there have been very welcoming.”

Anil Pradhan

College of Arts and Sciences
Delhi, India

Pradhan's research at Ohio State crosses boundaries, leaving the planetarium and entering the biomedical lab.

As a Fulbright Scholar, he brought his STEM education knowledge to the University of Delhi, where he focused on projects related to atomic physics and higher-ed faculty training.

“The Fulbright experience was exceedingly valuable in advancing not only topical research but also a major project on STEM faculty training that requires close coordination with Indian university and Ohio State counterparts.”

Eric Seiber

College of Public Health
Bogotá, Colombia and other regions

What can Colombia's focus on medical tourism teach American hospitals? Seiber's Fulbright research took him across Colombia, where he explored how the Latin American medical industry has responded to increased demand from travelers seeking complex care.

Colombia is experiencing a construction boom of high-tech hospitals and already competes directly with U.S. hospitals for international patients. Caribbean and Latin American patients are increasingly choosing Colombia for surgical care.

“ ‘Medical tourism’ is dismissed in the U.S. as an almost anecdotal occurrence,” he says. “By interviewing Colombian hospitals, I was able to learn that the U.S. perspective misses many of the most important developments around medical travel.”

Macdonald Wick

College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Skopje, Macedonia

In eastern Europe, a healthier pepper means a healthier economy.

Wick traveled to Skopje, Macedonia, to conduct research at the Department of Biochemistry and Genetic Engineering at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University. The focus of his research was on molecular methods of analyzing viral infections in peppers, a fundamental food source in the Balkans.

“Food is a tool for social interaction. We spent time with Albanians, Bosnians, Greeks, Croats, Serbians and Macedonians. Everyone wants the same levels of peace and the ability to provide for their families.”

Linn Van Woerkom

Office of Academic Affairs and University Honors & Scholars Center
United Kingdom

At Ohio State, Van Woerkom works to make sure the university's best students have opportunities to study abroad and become global citizens. As a Fulbright scholar, he visited 11 English and Scottish colleges and universities to see how the United Kingdom increases international opportunities for its own students.

“Understanding the fiscal and administrative challenges facing the U.K. education system is vital to my work as we create new programs aimed at truly internationalizing higher education in the United States.”

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