3 Professors, 2 Students Earn Fulbright Awards to Study Abroad

May 22, 2013

Colleen Locke


Three University of Massachusetts Boston faculty members will teach and conduct research overseas during the 2013-2014 academic year through the Fulbright Scholar Program.

The Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 faculty and professionals abroad each year to lecture and research topics of interest.

Ellen Douglas, associate professor of hydrology in the School for the Environment, will spend eight months in the Australian cities of Adelaide and Canberra. She will work with Australia’s national science agency to assign an economic value to the Murray-Darling Basin, a 400,000-square-mile agricultural area named for two major rivers that run through it. Douglas calls the river basin the “bread basket” of Australia.

“The Murray-Darling is highly overused. Everybody wants water, and at some point there’s not enough to go around, so how do you decide who gets water and who doesn’t?” Douglas said. “One way of doing that is assigning some sort of a dollar value and then trading the value of the water like we do other things that we purchase.”

Douglas says conditions in the Murray-Darling Basin are similar to those near the Yakima River in eastern Washington, which she has previously studied.

Douglas leaves for Australia in November and will return in June. She hopes to be able to write a couple of papers and share her findings with UMass Boston students when she returns to teaching in the fall of 2014.

Associate Professor Eve Sorum, graduate program director for the English Department, leaves in mid-August for a yearlong teaching assignment at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, a nation of about 16 million residents in western Africa.

Sorum says she chose Burkina Faso because she wanted to be in a French-speaking country. She will teach classes in English, which presents an opportunity for her to look at her methods with fresh eyes.

“At UMass Boston, we have so many students who are taking our classes who are not studying in their first language, and yet, in a way, when you are teaching something like English, you kind of have the mindset of working with this base common knowledge, so I feel like there are ways in which this experience will be very helpful, Sorum said.

Sorum also hopes to explore one of her research interests, empathy in literature.

“I feel like I’m going to see them in action in a much deeper and potentially more challenging way, just thinking about this question of teaching Virginia Woolf or T.S. Eliot in Ouagadougou,” she said. “What does that mean and how do I need to rethink what I think about those writers and what does it mean for a country that only emerged from colonization in the past 50 years?”

Associate Professor Pratyush Bharati, chair of the Management, Science, and Information Systems Department, will be conducting research on social media as a senior researcher at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. His empirical study will investigate how social media connects people in organizational social networks and its potential to help create collaborative knowledge for innovation.

Bharati expects to use his findings when he returns to UMass Boston.

“I have always endeavored to bring scholarship to the classroom,” he said. “I plan to incorporate social media from emerging economy perspective in courses on information systems strategy and international information management.” (Read more about Bharati here.)

Additionally, two UMass Boston students have earned the opportunity to study abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Julianna Andrews will study in Bulgaria and Ronda Zelezny-Green will travel to Kenya.

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s nine colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.