Three EMS faculty members receive Fulbright Awards

May 04, 2011

Sridhar Anandakrishnan, Timothy Bralower and M. Thaddeus Ityokumbul have been awarded Fulbright Scholar grants to conduct research and teach on three different continents during the 2011-12 academic year.

-- Anandakrishnan, professor of geosciences, will spend fall semester in India studying the thousands of glaciers in the “Third Pole” -- that is, in the Himalayan mountain range which, after the South and North poles, contains the most ice and snow on earth. These glaciers are located almost entirely along international borders, many of which are under military control, Anandakrishnan said.

If he is successful in obtaining permission to travel there, he will be among a handful of scientists to study those glaciers firsthand. Much of what scientists know about the glaciers is from satellite imagery and remote sensing tools.

“Many of these glaciers feed the rivers of India, Nepal, Pakistan as well as China and southeast Asia which are important reservoirs of water for hundreds of millions of people,” Anandakrishnan said.

Anandakrishnan also will lecture on glaciology at Sikkim University and at the Indian Institute of Science, the country’s premier research institution. He hopes that contacts with Indian glaciologists and climate scientists will lead to university-to-university exchanges and collaborative research projects among faculty.

Ultimately, Anandakrishnan said he would like to bring students and researchers to Penn State for a training program.

-- Also a professor of geosciences, Bralower will head to Australia for his Fulbright to conduct research on ocean acidification while based at the Climate Change Research Centre of the University of New South Wales.

But he also will devote a significant part of the year to continuing his efforts to build strong geosciences departments through on-site review and evaluation of existing programs at universities in Australia. For the next three years, Bralower will serve as a distinguished lecturer on enhancing and improving geosciences curriculum with the National Association of Geosciences Teachers, and he hopes to lecture across Australia as well.

“This is the century of biology and the Earth sciences -- we’re in the center of the big issues and the major events of the last decade from the 2004 tsunami to the development of gas shales,” Bralower said. “Education is critical to inform the choices that we face.”

Bralower also will develop an online course -- Earth 103: Earth Futures -- with David Bice, professor of geosciences. This course, which will fulfill general education requirements, will incorporate hands-on activities to show students the effects of global change, said Bralower, who will launch the course both here and in Australia.

“We want to introduce students to what the ancient records show, what the projections are for the future and what the implications are of climate change,” Bralower said.

-- Ityokumbul, an associate professor of mineral processing, will be teaching in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, as well as conducting research on iron ore processing, an area of economic interest to the Nigerian government.

Nigeria has based its economy largely on one commodity -- oil -- but the newly elected democratic government is eager to expand its revenue base to include solid minerals development, Ityokumbul said. This expansion will fuel employment opportunities as well.

During his Fulbright, Ityokumbul also will work with the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG) on identifying and initiating research in the mining, beneficiation and processing of minerals such as iron ore, phosphate rock and bitumen. Currently, NIMG is not directing any research projects, said Ityokumbul, who toured the country’s research facilities during a 2008 visit sponsored by the country’s Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

“Africa is resource rich, but many countries lack the manpower to develop these resources in a sustainable manner and for the benefit of the larger society,” Ityokumbul said. “My work in Nigeria will be part of ongoing efforts to build technical and scientific capacity in Africa with Africans and for Africans.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 09, 2015