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Fulbright program
Avenue of Exchange

By sending AUB faculty and graduate students abroad and bringing North American scholars to campus, the Fulbright Program is a two-way street of academic exchange between AUB and other US institutions.

It’s an invaluable opportunity for AUB. The United States Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program promotes “mutual understanding between the people of the US and those of other parts of the world” by maintaining a two-way street for advanced scholarship. For AUB, says Provost Peter Heath, the program is “an avenue of exchange and communication as we seek to enhance contacts with US universities.” Through the program, AUB scholars are face-to-face with their US colleagues and are participating in new research—all fruitful experiences that they bring back to AUB.

We are going to tell you about four of them—all members of the AUB family who are
currently, or were recently, in the US to do advanced study, along with an American professor from the University of Michigan who
is coming to AUB for the spring semester.

Like many professors in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Professor Mustapha Haidar’s research interests directly benefit the agricultural sector in Lebanon and the Middle East region. Professor Haidar joined AUB as an assistant professor of weed ecophysiology in 1993. He is spending the year in the botany department at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he is studying the light signal transduction mechanism(s) of dodder seedlings. The dodder is a major agricultural pest that affects a wide range of economically important crops in Lebanon and in temperate and tropical zones. So far, researchers have been unable to find a successful way to control it.

This year is proving to be invaluable to Professor Haidar’s efforts to study the physiological behavior of dodder in a manner helpful for developing a control method for this parasite. He has benefited from the facilities available at NC State and the opportunities to collaborate with colleagues who are working in this field. As Professor Haidar comments, “This experience has been enormously important to me and my work.” He goes on to say that he hopes “to use this year to strengthen the institutional relationship between AUB and NC State so that others too will have the opportunity to benefit from the exchange of ideas.”

The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Fellowship Program is also making it possible for Professor Lara I. Halaoui to collaborate with colleagues in the United States, thus providing an opportunity for further professional development. Halaoui, who is currently an assistant professor of chemistry at AUB, is spending the year at Penn State University where she is working with Professor Thomas E. Mallouk on the assembly of semiconductor nanostructures (i.e., as photonic crystals) and the exploration of their photoelectrochemical behavior. Halaoui’s research focuses on the self-assembly of high-order heterostructures from semiconductor and metal nanoparticles building blocks, and the exploration of the fundamental physical and photoelectrochemical properties of this new class of matter, for potential applications in the areas of solar energy conversion and the generation of renewable clean energy.

Halaoui, who received her PhD from Duke University, arrived at AUB five years ago. Although AUB has significantly improved its research and laboratory facilities during those years, professors working in some areas are
still at a disadvantage compared to their US colleagues. “The opportunity to take advantage of Penn State’s state-of-the-art facilities will greatly accelerate the pace of my research in this growing field,” reports Halaoui.

For Sevag Kechichian, a master’s student in the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration who is spending the year at Purdue University, the “Fulbright experience” is turning out to be everything he hoped it would be—and more. Sevag was originally attracted to the Fulbright Program because of the chance to do research in the United States. He notes that while he was able to read the books and articles when he was a student at AUB, now “I can talk to some of the people who wrote those books and articles!” Sevag also reports that he has benefited from the opportunity to audit several political science courses and to interact with other graduate students.

In large part because of his positive experience this year, Sevag has decided to apply to a number of PhD programs in comparative politics in order to pursue his research interest in transition economies, democratization, nation-state building, and ethnic conflict. Sevag sums up his experience so far this way: “The fact that you are being strongly encouraged to do your research in the United States and that someone is paying so much attention to you and your research is simply a dream come true.”

Haitham Khoury was pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at AUB when he decided to apply for a Fulbright scholarship so that he would have the opportunity to study abroad and to pursue his own research interests. In
the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Haitham participated in several seminars aimed at bridging the gap between Arabs and Americans that focused on tolerance, the role of the media, and stereotyping

Haitham speaks of the Fulbright experience as being one that provided him with “the chance to enrich my knowledge and experience in
my area of interest, establish contacts as a Fulbright scholar, and meet with other Fulbright recipients.” He was also struck by how many of the people he met took him and his opinions seriously—a new experience for him. Haitham is now a teaching assistant in the PhD program for industrial and organizational psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

During the spring 2003 semester AUB is hosting a Fulbright scholar. The Faculty of Health Sciences will be a home away from home for Dr. Marcia Inhorn, an associate professor and director of the Center of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan. Inhorn will be based in the Department of Health Behavior and Education as a visiting associate professor while she undertakes a comparative study on male
infertility in Lebanon and Syria. She will also be working with AUB colleagues to develop a new course on women’s health.

These AUB scholars are part of the more than 80,000 academics and professionals who have participated in Fulbright programs in the last 55 years. With the University’s commitment to encouraging faculty research, these numbers are expected to continue to grow in coming years.