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KU among top 5 universities for 2014-15 Fulbright Scholars

Thursday, February 19, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas is among the top universities in the nation – and the top in the Big 12 – for 2014-15 Fulbright Scholars, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Six KU faculty members are U.S. Fulbright Scholars for this academic year, which places KU among a group of universities ranked fifth in the Chronicle. The award enables recipients to teach and conduct research overseas as well as exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions with international peers.

“I often say my favorite part of KU is the outstanding people, and our faculty’s continued success as Fulbright Scholars is an example of the excellence of their teaching and research,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “Students who come to KU have opportunities, regardless of their field of study, to work closely with professors who are leaders both at home and abroad. It is a global perspective only select institutions can match.”

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360,000 participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,100 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators, professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers and independent scholars are awarded Fulbright grants to teach and/or conduct research annually.

All-time, KU faculty members have earned 311 Fulbrights, while KU students have earned 450 Fulbright scholarships. The fifth-place ranking is KU’s highest since 2011, when only Harvard University had more Fulbright scholars than KU.

KU’s 2014-15 Fulbright Scholars include:

Alexander Moise, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, will spend the summer of 2015 in Brazil working on his project titled “Structure and Evolutionary Adaptation of Enzymes Involved in Vitamin A Metabolism.” His host institution is the Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory in Campinas. Moise joined the KU faculty in 2009, and his research focuses on the metabolism and physiological functions of carotenoids and their cleavage products. As he notes on his faculty page, Moise’s research would not be possible without the discovery of vitamin A, made by KU alumnus Elmer V. McCollum.

Dave Besson, professor of physics, will spend the spring of 2015 in Russia for his project titled “U.S.-Russian Antarctic Geophysics and Astrophysics.” His host institution is the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute. Besson joined the KU faculty in 1993, and his speciality is high-energy experimental physics. His collaboration in Russia includes exploring an initiative to mount a neutrino-detector on a Russian-made tethered balloon at Station Vostok in the High Eastern Plateau of Antarctica.

Paulette Spencer, Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will spend the spring of 2015 in Brazil on her project titled “Driving Biomaterials Discovery Through Kansas-Brazil Bridge.” Her host institution is the University of Sao Paulo. Spencer joined the KU faculty in 2007, and her NIH-funded research integrates engineering principles with the clinical practice of dentistry. In 2009, she was Visiting Professor at the Bauru School of Dentistry, University of Sao Paulo.

Nina Vyatkina, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures, spent the fall of 2014 in Germany on her project titled “Longitudinal Learner Development in German as a Second Language: Introduction to Second Language Acquisition Research.” Her host institution was Humboldt University of Berlin. Vyatkina joined the KU faculty in 2007, and her interests include second language acquisition, longitudinal learner language development, learner corpus analysis and interlanguage pragmatics. Her collaboration with Humboldt University involves work as an investigator on a learner corpus research project.

Randal Jelks, professor of American studies and African and African-American studies, is currently lecturing and researching in the Czech Republic for his project titled “Biographies of Everyday Black Religion.” His host institution is Masaryk University in Brno. Jelks joined the KU faculty in 2009 after serving as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor in 2008. His research and writing interests are in the areas of African-American religious history, the African diaspora, urban and civil rights history.

Patrick Suzeau, professor of dance, spent the fall of 2014 in Malaysia lecturing and researching on his project titled “Rangoli With Cohan/Suzeau Dance Company Repertory Works.” His host institution was the National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (ASWARA) in Kuala Lumpur. Suzeau joined the KU faculty in 1989 as an instructor and was appointed associate professor in 2003. His COHAN/SUZEAU Dance Company spent the spring semester 2007 in Lithuania on a Fulbright Fellowship, where its production "Dia de los Muertos" featured soloists of the National Ballet, was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. His current Fulbright was precipitated by a 2011 performance of his “Mosaic” at the Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur.

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