UConn Joins Ranks of Top Producers of Faculty Fulbrights

Six faculty are Fulbright Scholars this year in the prestigious international exchange program.

Fulbright graphic.Six UConn faculty members have received a Fulbright Scholar award for the ’09 -’10 academic year, placing the University in the top 10 among U.S. research institutions in terms of the number of faculty selected.

UConn joins New York University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington, and Penn State, each of which had six faculty members chosen. Only Michigan State, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oregon had more (seven each).

An international exchange program established in 1946 under the aegis of the State Department to enhance America’s role in the world, Fulbright will send about 2,800 U.S. students and scholars abroad this year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Fulbright recipients spend one year overseas.

“Ranking among the top producers of faculty Fulbrights underscores that UConn faculty are engaged internationally, in addition to being outstanding scholars,” says Elizabeth Mahan, interim executive director of the Office of International Affairs. “This bodes well for realizing the internationalization goals laid out in our academic plan, since all the research on internationalization in higher education points to faculty engagement as the key to success.”

One UConn recipient of the award is Alexis Dudden, associate professor of history, who is spending her Fulbright year in Japan working on a new book. In it, she considers how Japan’s Cold War experience is influencing the ways Japanese society is establishing the country’s place in the region and the world in the 21st century.

“I’m reading through various archives, doing ethnographic studies, and considering what daily life today means as a result of the Cold War experience along the Japan sea coast facing Korea, Russia, and Northeast China,” says Dudden.

Larry Goodheart, a professor of history at the Greater Hartford campus, is a senior Fulbright lecturer at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey. He is teaching courses in the Department of American Culture and Literature on African Americans, human rights, and capital punishment. In addition, he has lectured at Ataturk University in Erzurum and at Uludag University in Bursa.

“I find the exchange of ideas with students and colleagues very stimulating,” says Goodheart.

Hedley Freake, a professor of nutritional sciences, is working in Hong Kong for the year. The education system there is being extensively revised, with students being required to spend a year less in high school and four rather than three years in college. As a consequence, the universities are developing new general education programs. Freake is part of a team of Fulbright Scholars advising on this project. He is based at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, but members of the Fulbright team work extensively together, providing workshops and consultation services to all universities in Hong Kong and also more broadly though the region.

“Hong Kong universities are being required to reinvent themselves,” says Freake. “It is a fascinating challenge to help them think through that process, while at the same time trying to understand the local and institutional cultures.”

Another recipient, Lanbo Liu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, is at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, focusing on the characterization of seafloor sediments.

“I’m collaborating with Norwegian academic and industrial partners on studying ambient noise data acquired with an Ocean Bottom Cable,” says Liu.

He notes that precise characterization of the mechanical properties of the seafloor is closely associated with a variety of research topics in engineering and defense, such as offshore geotechnical construction – pipelines and platforms – offshore hydrocarbon exploration, underwater sensor networks, and underwater warfare.

Also in Norway is Wendy Glenn, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Neag School of Education. While overseas, she is traveling to lower secondary schools – grades 8 through 10 – throughout the country to talk with students about American life and culture and provide professional development to their teachers.

“As I talk with Norwegian students, I am continually reminded of the power of the media as a defining element of culture,” says Glenn. “So much of what these students understand about American life comes from what they see in films and on television. I enjoy the opportunity to show Norwegian teens that America is more than McDonald’s, MTV, and Paris Hilton.”

Glenn is also learning about the influence of economics in daily life.

“In every region of Norway, students enjoy clean and updated facilities, excellent access to technology, and well-paid teachers,” she says. “This experience has highlighted my awareness of the disparities that exist among school communities in the United States.”

The sixth UConn Fulbright Scholar recipient is Johann Gogarten, professor of molecular and cell biology, who is in Israel.

In addition, Kathryn Hegedus, associate professor of nursing, was selected for a Fulbright specialist grant in public and global health at a school in Ghent, Belgium. She attended and gave a presentation at an interdisciplinary program on palliative and end-of-life care, that was attended by faculty and students from eight European countries and institutions.

“This was a very invigorating experience,” says Hegedus. “The common language was English, but having faculty and students from eight countries, speaking at times in their own language as they did their group projects, gave a refreshing dimension to global sharing.”