Bright Minds

Expanding research horizons with GW’s five Fulbright scholars

GW is the only university in the District with five Fulbright scholars. The 2006-07 recipients are: (back row, l-r) Larry Yu, Lars Willnat, Sean Cleary, (front row, l-r) David Drummond Gow, and Geralyn Schulz.

Jessica McConnell

In 1946, U.S. Senator and GW Law School alumnus J. William Fulbright, LLB ’34, established the Fulbright Program to increase intellectual communication between countries through the exchange of knowledge and skills. Since then, more than 250,000 individuals have received Fulbright Fellowships and Scholarships, many of them university faculty who use the awards to fund cross-cultural research projects.

Of the numerous 2006-07 Fulbright recipients in academic institutions across the globe, five of them call GW home—making GW the only university in the District with that many Fulbright scholars.

The five are involved in a wide range of research activities, taking them everywhere from the National University of Management in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to the University of Cauca in Colombia. Blending teaching and research, each destination holds a special importance to the faculty member.

As a Fulbright scholar at the Universiti Purtra Malaysia’s Department of Communication, Lars Willnat, associate professor of media and public affairs and international affairs, spent time exploring the relationship between developing Asian democracies and their culture, media, and politics. Working with a colleague, he developed public opinion polls that looked at the media’s role in political participation and the “stable tension” between the Chinese and Malays.

“It’s great stuff,” says Willnat. “Especially since most Western media researchers have ignored most large Southeast Asian nations, such as Malaysia or Indonesia.”

This January, Larry Yu, associate professor of tourism and hotel management, wasn’t far from Malaysia when he was conducting research in Cambodia on future purchase behavior and international tourist satisfaction. “Given the recent surge in the country’s international tourism, I am interested in investigating international tourist perceptions of satisfaction with Cambodia, and tourist intention to return to or recommend the country,” he says.

For David Gow, Baker Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, the Fulbright Fellowship serves to connect past research with a future publication. Gow will spend the spring semester teaching in the anthropology department at the University of Cauca in Colombia. Not only will his work continue to explore the tenure of Colombia’s first indigenous governor, Taita Floro Tunubalá, but it also will utilize his research toward a forthcoming book, Countering Development: Indigenous Modernity and the Moral Imagination.

Spring will find Sean D. Cleary, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, teaching epidemiology to students in the departments of microbiology and community medicine and family health at Nepal’s Tribhuvan University, Institute of Medicine in Kathmandu. In addition to teaching responsibilities, Cleary, as a Fulbright Senior Scholar, will work on improving health planning by examining the spatial distribution of diseases in Nepal through geographic information systems. “Applying small-area analysis techniques in Nepal can potentially have a significant impact on disease control for infectious diseases,” he says. “It will also be a useful tool for illuminating and understanding health disparities.”

Australia was the perfect country for Geralyn Schulz to lecture and research on speech rehabilitation, because it shares a high incidence of neurological disorders with the United States. Both countries, says the associate professor of speech and hearing science, are concerned with implementing evidence-based practice and functional outcome measures.

“This Fulbright project not only furthers my clinical research goal of developing and assessing more efficacious therapy methods for the rehabilitation of speech in persons who have had neurological damage, it also furthers the goal of speech pathology in the U.S. and Australia,” she remarks of her impending work with the University of Queensland.

“It also furthers the mission of the Fulbright Scholarship program to promote the exchange of ideas and to establish joint international collaborations that promote greater mutual understanding between nations.”

No doubt Fulbright himself would be proud of his intellectual successors, each one of them furthering the intellectual and cultural goals he established more than 60 years ago.

Zak M. Salih

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