UGA’s Global Reach

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Christina Varian, a Ph.D. student in the College of Veterinary Medicine, received funding from the Fulbright Program to study the ecology of Chagas Disease in Panama. She is one of 15 UGA students and six faculty members to receive Fulbright awards this year.

A record number of University of Georgia students and faculty are conducting research, teaching and studying abroad through the Fulbright Program, helping make this institution one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright students and scholars.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 and is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. This year six UGA faculty members received funding to teach and conduct research abroad through the Fulbright Scholar Program, and 15 UGA students received scholarships through the Fulbright Student Program. UGA is one of only 16 institutions included in both the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of top Fulbright student producers and its list of top scholar producers, a recognition that puts us among an elite group of universities.

The scope of the work being conducted by our faculty through the Fulbright Program underscores the global reach of the University’s research enterprise. Meigs Professor Jeb Byers is conducting research on the Chilean coast and teaching a course on the ecology of invasive species, while Michael Conroy, senior research scientist in the Warnell School, received a Fulbright award to conduct research on Arctic and Great Lakes fish in Canada and teach statistical modeling.

Richard Gordon, who directs UGA’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, received a Fulbright award to conduct research and teach in Portugal, while assistant professor Brain Haas in the department of psychology received funding to travel to Bhutan to teach and advance his research on the social and cultural factors that impact how people make decisions. Physics professor Robin Shelton received a Fulbright award to work with colleagues at Berlin Technical University, while Distinguished Research Professor Mihai Spariosu received a Fulbright award to travel to Romania to study intercultural contact after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Our outstanding students studying abroad through the Fulbright Program are traveling to 15 nations on four continents to study issues ranging from branchless banking methods in Tajikistan to infectious diseases in Panama. In total, more than 2,000 UGA students study abroad each year, and the University has developed formal partnerships in more than 50 countries around the world.

International activities and partnerships enhance and extend the University’s teaching, research and service activities while building our state’s reputation as a vital hub of cultural and commercial exchange. There are broader benefits, as well, that are perhaps best encapsulated by the late Senator J. William Fulbright, who noted that “educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.”