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Texas A&M Is Top Producer Of Fulbright Scholars

The university is tied for fifth nationally and is the top college in Texas in the number of scholars for the 2019-20 academic year.
By Keith Randall, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications February 24, 2020

Texas A&M University is tied for fifth nationally in the number of Fulbright Scholars for the 2019-20 academic year, according to recent figures from the Fulbright Program.

Seven Texas A&M faculty members received the prestigious award this year to study and conduct research internationally. In addition, Texas A&M is also the top Fulbright Scholar producer in the state. It’s the only Texas school on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of most-awarded doctoral institutions.

Texas A&M has had at least one Fulbright Scholar every year since 1949.

“It is very gratifying to see that Texas A&M is among the national leaders in producing Fulbright Scholars and is contributing to such a long history of academic excellence,” said Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. “The chance to pursue educational opportunities in a foreign country can be a life-changing event for many Aggies as they study, conduct research and collaborate with brilliant minds, while experiencing different cultures around the world. We congratulate those who have been selected in the Fulbright Program and the more than 160 countries that participate in this outstanding educational partnership.”

The following faculty members were named Fulbright Scholars for 2019-20:

  • Satish Bukkapatnam, Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
  • JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz, Texas A&M-Galveston, Department of Liberal Studies
  • Diana O’Brien, Department of Political Science
  • Quan Li, Department of Political Science
  • Vijay Singh, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Hojun Song, Department of Entomology
  • Jyotsna Vaid, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

The Fulbright Program, created in 1946, has given awards to more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds and fields to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to important international problems.

The Texas A&M Fulbright Scholars’ destinations include India, Australia, Canada, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Austria, Spain and France.

A faculty member who is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar grant has a unique opportunity, according to Michael Benedik, vice provost and regents professor of biology.

“These awards to our faculty are highly competitive and prestigious, and only about 1,200 were awarded last year among all U.S. faculty, which is well below 1 percent of faculty in the country ever to receive a Fulbright,” Benedik said. “Receiving a Fulbright can significantly enhance a faculty member’s career, both due to the prestige but also the opportunity to engage in teaching and research at an international location. That brings an international perspective to the faculty member’s work and establishes potential collaborations for their future career.”

Fulbright Scholar JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz is head of the liberal studies department at Texas A&M-Galveston. Starting in June she will teach at Yangon University in Myanmar. This is her third Fulbright award.

“I will be training the next generation of Burmese leaders on the dynamics of world affairs and the conditions for democracy,” DiGeorgio-Lutz said. “The best thing about this award is that it will allow me to immerse myself in Burmese culture and I will be able to contextualize my courses here in Galveston with my experiences.”

Two current Texas A&M graduate students are also recipients of Fulbright awards. Angela Achorn of Nashville, Tenn., will conduct research in Indonesia on macaques, a type of monkey found in the area, and Melissa Meierhofer of Wisconsin will research bat colonies in Finland.

Traci Lacy, associate director of partnership services in the Office of the Provost, said the intangible benefits of being a Fulbright Scholar far outweigh the actual award.

“The Fulbright Scholar program provides opportunities to collaborate with academics with new and different perspectives which can give the visiting scholar a tremendous boost with regards to their research,” Lacy said. “Due to their time abroad, faculty that participate in the program often promote Education Abroad Programs to their students, which promotes a cultural awareness, diversity of thought and experience long after they return to the United States.”

The Fulbright Program is aimed at increasing a mutual understanding between people in the United States and other countries, and is administered by the U.S. Department of State through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program was founded by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is widely considered to be among the most recognized and prestigious scholarships in the world.

The program also brings about 4,000 scholars from universities around the world to study, teach and do research in the U.S.

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