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Rebeca de Jesús Crespo receives Fulbright Scholarship

Jun. 18, 2012

Writer: Mickey Y. Montevideo, mickeym@uga.edu

Contact: Kasee Laster, klaster@uga.edu


Four University of Georgia faculty and professionals have received Fulbright Awards for the 2012-2013 academic year.

S. Mark Tompkins, an associate professor who has been on faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of infectious diseases since 2005, will travel to Australia as a Fulbright senior scholar, while Bryan McCullick, a professor and coordinator in the kinesiology department who has been on faculty in the College of Education since 1998, currently is serving as a Fulbright specialist in Ireland.  Rebeca Giselle de Jesús Crespo, a postdoctoral candidate in the Odum School of Ecology since 2010, will work in Costa Rica. Colleen P. Larson, an education abroad adviser in the Office of International Education and affiliated with UGA since 2004, is participating in an administrators’ program in Japan.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. government designed to increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries. The UGA Fulbrights will join 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad in the program this year.

“The Fulbright Fellowship is one of the most prestigious international exchange awards, and I congratulate the award winners on this honor,” said Kavita Pandit, associate provost for UGA’s Office of International Education. “Their participation in the Fulbright program builds and extends UGA’s international relationships and networks.”

Tompkins focuses his research on understanding the immune response to respiratory virus infection and developing novel vaccines and treatments for use against human and zoonotic diseases. Beginning in August, he will serve six months in Geelong, where he will work with the Australian Animal Health Labs, a division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which is Australia’s national science agency. The lab is internationally recognized as the premier facility capable of studying high consequence and emerging infectious diseases in small and large animals.  Specifically, he will focus on collaborative developments of therapeutic drugs for Hendra and Nipah viruses.

“Working in a new environment with novel pathogens and leaders in their respective fields is an excellent opportunity to develop not only my career, but also to cement growing collaborations with our colleagues in Australia,” said Tompkins. “This work will not only expand my infectious disease and anti-viral drug discovery expertise for the work that is being done in our UGA labs, but also will provide concrete advances in drug development for emerging infectious diseases for which there are no effective treatments or vaccines.”

McCullick’s areas of interest are teacher-coach education and physical education/sport pedagogy.  He is in Dublin, working with the Gaelic Athletic Association, to advise and assist officials with the development of a curriculum for their new coach education framework, the Coach10 Model. McCullick will help establish how the GAA can best develop an integrated delivery of the national coach education and physical education curriculum as well as assist in developing methods of engaging teachers with the GAA.

“By conducting workshops, seminars and focus groups, I plan to provide the GAA with feedback regarding a suitable strategy for their coaching and physical education programs,” said McCullick.

The graduate research of de Jesús Crespo is a collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance, an international, nongovernmental environmental organization, and UGA’s Integrative Conservation Ph.D. Program in the Odum School. The goal of her research is to develop stream-monitoring protocols that can assess the impact of the Rainforest Alliance’s certification program on the health of streams that flow into coffee plantations.  Her Fulbright Award will allow her to continue her research.

“My experience with UGA’s program has made me realize that translating science into practice goes beyond avoiding jargon and simplifying research findings,” said de Jesús Crespo. “It involves an understanding of the processes and the people that determine how research is applied for management and conservation in the long run.”

Larson is attending the U.S.-Japan International Education Administrators Seminar this month. As an adviser, Larson supports more than 2,000 UGA students studying abroad annually, including outbound participants in the UGA student exchange programs, scholarships, and health and safety training for faculty program directors.

“UGA has student exchanges with 10 partner institutions in Japan, and I hope to become more familiar with the Japanese system of higher education and culture though participation in this Fulbright International Educator Seminar,” said Larson.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to discovering solutions to international concerns. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education and athletics; and, in fact, 40 Fulbright alumni from 11 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and 75 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, see http://fulbright.state.gov.


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