Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Sunday, April 21, 2024

UF jumps to no. 2 spot for number of Fulbright scholars

Eleven Fulbright Distinguished Scholars named at UF during the 2023-2024 award season

A mostly deserted evening along Newell Drive at the University of Florida’s Gainesville campus on Tuesday, July 22, 2021. The upcoming fall semester will see tens of thousands of students return to Gainesville, although an increase in the number of delta variant COVID-19 infections raises concerns about viral spread among unvaccinated people.
A mostly deserted evening along Newell Drive at the University of Florida’s Gainesville campus on Tuesday, July 22, 2021. The upcoming fall semester will see tens of thousands of students return to Gainesville, although an increase in the number of delta variant COVID-19 infections raises concerns about viral spread among unvaccinated people.

If a poet, athlete, music enthusiast and novice ping pong player were gathered into a room, it may seem like they wouldn't have much in common. 

What Shiva Gautam, Aida Hozic, Remy Pages, Ido Oren and Huiping Yang have in common though — along with six other distinguished UF faculty members — is the title of Fulbright Scholar. 

Fulbright is an academic cultural exchange program where qualifying students conduct research in more than 150 countries. Awardees receive grants to travel to a country of their choosing during their scheduled year and use this money to act as ambassadors of education, policy and research. 

The award is also a chance for students from the undergraduate to post-doctoral levels to immerse themselves in a culture unlike their own. 

The UF faculty members who make up the 2023-2024 Doctoral Award season are responsible for the university’s jump from fourth to second place in total Fulbright scholars in a year. With eleven awardees, UF places second behind Pennsylvania State University, with twelve honorees. 

For biostatistics professor Shiva Gautam, the Fulbright Award is an honor and a homecoming. Originally from Nepal, he has been in the United States for 39 years.

“To give back something to [Nepal] and to also be the ambassador for this country,” he said, “it was quite satisfying.” 

Gautam spent three of his five months on the Fulbright grant teaching biostatics to medical students in Dharan, Nepal. For the first few weeks, though, Gautam stayed in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu conducting research remotely due to an outbreak of dengue fever. 

“I did the research part online,” he said, “When the pandemic of dengue became less severe, then I went…and stayed there for three and a half months.” 

Ido Oren, a two-time Fulbright scholar and associate professor of political science, sees Fulbright as a way to deepen his global immersion, which he said is important in teaching international affairs. 

Oren spoke about his six-month grant timeline in which he is currently working as a researcher and educator at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria and said that the grant would allow him to further immerse himself in the cultures of the world. 

“It is valuable for me to internationalize myself,” Oren said. “You immerse yourself in a different culture, in a different language, meet new people.” 

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

A Fulbright scholar in 2010 as well, Oren traveled to Beijing, China, where he lectured at China Foreign Affairs University. On his January 2024 trip to Vienna, he said he used his experience in China to make the most of his second opportunity.

“I brought the expectation that this would be a memorable and significant life experience that would stay with me and would also have an impact on my teaching,” he said.  

For Aida Hozic, international relations professor and associate chair of the department of political science, her third Fulbright award carries the most meaning because of its historic location and connection to Senator William J. Fulbright and his intentions for the exchange.   

“[My exchange] is located at Pembroke College in Oxford, UK, where Senator Fulbright himself was once a student,” she said. “ In many ways, this Fulbright Award brings scholars back to the place that inspired the entire Fulbright Program.” 

Hozic believes a Fulbright scholar’s job is to build bridges where politics may have failed, benefitting what she called a deeply polarized and divided world.

Oren and Hozic, both hailing from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, share the sentiment that the volume of CLAS awardees emphasizes the college’s investment in internationalization. 

“[It] speaks to the continued centrality of liberal arts education even in this shifting, perplexing and often terrifying world,” Hozic said. 

Postdoctoral Associate Remy Pages’ upcoming Fulbright timeline for Kigali, Rwanda, begins in March 2024. A Public Policy fellow, Pages will spend five months in Rwanda’s National Child Development Agency, which is a part of the government’s Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, where he will discuss early childhood development with policymakers. 

“It is a tremendous opportunity to kind of apply this expertise to tangible improvements in the lives of children,” he said. 

Pages credited the help he received from his colleagues and the International Center at UF for his Fulbright future. As a postdoctoral associate, Pages is under the mentorship of Herman Knopf at the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies. 

This appreciation is also shared by Huiping Yang, an associate professor and Fulbright Senior Scholarship Awardee who recently returned from her three-month Fulbright grant at the University of Murcia in Spain. 

Yang specializes in aquaculture and fish immunology at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. She picked Spain for its bustling fish and shellfish aquaculture production. 

She also thanked the UF International Center for its help in connecting her with previous Fulbright awardees within IFAS and encouraged others to apply to the program. 

“I can serve as a reviewer…or if somebody wants to know the experience, I can talk with them,” she said. 

Yang would like to help organize a symposium to introduce undergraduates to Fulbright and start their overseas education as soon as possible, she said.

“During my trip, I attended a symposium with Spain and their Fulbright program,” she said. “I saw that a majority [were] students…which is very, very good.”

UFs International Center will celebrate Fulbright Awareness Month from March 4 until March 31, with the hopes that the Fulbright program be introduced to “scholars, faculty, staff, and students and provide opportunities to learn about Fulbright, the application process, and to hear about the experiences of past Fulbright participants,” according to UFIC. 

Contact Sydney Johnson at sjohnson@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @sydajohnson15

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.