Since FIU opened its doors, faculty and students have excelled in advancing the university’s institutional goal of fostering international understanding and engaging with the global community. The 2019-2020 academic year will be no different.
Two students and five faculty members will travel abroad for several months to conduct their studies, research, teach (or a combination thereof) at a partner institution under the U.S. Department of State’s prestigious Fulbright Program.
Led by the United States government in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide, the Fulbright Program offers international educational and cultural exchange programs for passionate and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach or pursue important research and professional projects. Since its establishment in 1946 by Congress, the program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
“This roster of FIU Fulbrighters demonstrates the formidable breadth and depth of academic knowledge and global engagement among our faculty and students,” says FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, who is also a Fulbright scholar (Honduras, 1983). “It underpins that our institution continues its commitment to internationalize higher education. We congratulate our seven 2019-2020 Fulbrighters who will proudly carry the FIU flag as they engage with the international community across the globe.”
Mariacarla Gonzalez, a graduate student in the biomedical engineering program, will be heading to Honduras. She received the Fulbright Student Scholarship to conduct research on testing a low cost, portable polarimeter for cervical cancer diagnosis. A student in the Medical Photonics Lab under the mentorship of Jessica Ramella-Roman, Gonzalez will focus her research on the diagnostic of cervical cancer using Mueller Matrix polarimetry. This methodology allows for the quantification of parameters such as light depolarization and retardance, which will vary from healthy to dysplastic tissue. Moreover, using machine learning, an algorithm providing a clear distinction between healthy and unhealthy tissue will be developed to complement use of the device by non-experts.
Jean Max Charles, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, was selected to collaborate with the Haiti State University to teach and conduct research on disaster relief, NGOs and development. Charles’s research explores the effectiveness and the limitations of NGO-provided relief as it relates to efforts to produce sustainable development outcomes in the wake of disasters. More specifically, analyzing the post-earthquake relief in Haiti, Charles argues that to produce long-term outcomes, disaster relief efforts must make development a centerpiece of their interventions in order to reduce vulnerability in the future and build resilient communities. His research is expected to have significant policy implications. The Fulbright award will allow Charles to deepen the relationship between FIU and Haiti State University through teaching, curriculum advising and scholarly exchanges.
Iqbal Akhtar, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Politics & International Relations, will return to his native Pakistan to develop capacity building of academics in Lahore at The University of Management and Technology (UMT) and work on an important case history of pluralism in the development of Pakistan through an examination of the Khōjā caste. There are two challenges to a rigorous history of Pakistan. First, many scholars in Pakistan lack rigorous training in how to critically engage and present their ideas, lived experiences and indigenous primary materials to an international audience in academic English. Second, Pakistan’s inaccessibility has made it difficult for non-Pakistani scholars to do primary research on its indigenous history. Therefore, this award would allow Akhtar to first intensively train lecturers and graduate students for two months in Lahore at UMT. And then, for the remaining two months, he will continue his current research project on 18th century religious-political philosophy of the Sindhi Khōjā at the National Archives in Islamabad.
Hilary Jones, associate professor of history, will travel to Dakar, Senegal, for the Africa Regional Research Program. The award will allow her to conduct fieldwork in Senegal for her book manuscript, “From Senegal to the French Antilles: West Africa and the Making of the French Atlantic World.” While on the Fulbright, she will work with doctoral students in History and the Anthropology Laboratory of the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire at University Cheikh Anta Diop (Dakar) who are conducting research on slavery, the slave trade, and the African Diaspora. Jones also plans to conduct field research in Saint Louis, Senegal’s formal colonial capital and nineteenth century Atlantic trade port. Her aim is to illustrate how slavery and the illegal slave linked West Africa and the French Caribbean in the decades following the Haitian Revolution.
Carolin Lusby, assistant professor in the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, will teach and conduct research in the areas of tourism and conservationwith collaborators at the University of Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The overarching theme is to increase understanding of the interrelatedness of tourism development in Brazil. More specifically, the aim is to study (and later implement) small scale ecotourism development as a tool for conservation of indigenous lands in the Brazilian Amazon. Lusby also views this project as a unique opportunity to expand her own body of scholarship and that her students will benefit from the opportunities to study in Brazil and partake in the continuation of the project.
Norman Munroe, professor in the Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, will be joining the Department of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Guyana for research and teaching focused on the country’s oil and gas (O&G) industry. Guyana is poised to become the next big oil producer in the Western Hemisphere with estimated reserves of 10 billion barrels oil and gas equivalent and production is expected to commence in 2020. Through this interdisciplinary teaching and research project, Munroe will assist with the development of new courses; offer lectures; explore strategies to increase active participation of diaspora Guyanese and Caribbean personnel in the O&G industry; propose mechanisms to monitor industry activities follow highest standards of environmental stewardship; and initiate strategic partnerships between the O&G industry and academia.
Deodutta Roy, professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, plans to carry forward collaborative research and teaching efforts in India at Jamia Hamdard Institute of Molecular Medicine (JH-IMM) related to Precision Functional Genomics Solutions. Using his expertise in molecular prevention, Roy will investigate the role of ancestral genetic lineages in aggressive growth of brain tumors and their contribution to brain tumor susceptibility. During his stay in New Delhi, he plans to offer seminars and workshops on big genomic data analysis and interpretation of the genomics data using machine learning modeling at multiple institutions toward preparing a new generation of scientists. Roy intends to forge a formal relationship between FIU and JH-IMM through faculty and student exchange opportunities. The specimens and clinical data from the Indian population cohorts created during his stay will be valuable for a collaborative grant submission to NIH. This will help both FIU and JH-IMM achieve their stated goal of internationalizing their curricula and facilitating global studies.