Bringing the World to Their Students Through International Research and Study
By Mary Beth Zeman
University’s New Fulbright Scholars Add to Proud Tradition
Three William Paterson faculty members—Payton MacDonald, associate professor of music, Emmanuel Onaivi, professor of biology, and Mahmoud Watad, professor of marketing and management—added their names to a significant list at the University when they were named Fulbright Scholars for the academic year 2013-14.
The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange program, is one of the most prestigious scholarship programs worldwide. Each year, some eight hundred United States faculty and professionals are selected to lecture, research, or participate in seminars in 155 countries around the world.
Their selection—MacDonald to study music in India, and Onaivi and Watad to conduct research and teach in Ethiopia and Morocco, respectively—brings the number of current Fulbright scholars on the University’s faculty to thirty-seven, nearly 10 percent of William Paterson’s 402 full-time faculty members. Faculty in each of the University’s five colleges have participated in the program, in countries as diverse as Australia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Rwanda, and the United Arab Emirates, and in disciplines ranging from linguistics and history to mathematics and educational technology.
For the second time since 2010, the University ranks among the top producers of Fulbright Scholars at master’s degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States. William Paterson’s three Fulbright awards placed it among the top nine master’s degree-granting institutions whose faculty received awards.
“We are very proud of the University’s long tradition of producing Fulbright scholars, and we are particularly honored that three of our faculty members, which is a significant number, have been selected in one year to study, conduct research, and share their knowledge with students and scholars in other countries,” says Warren Sandmann, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We look forward to the new ideas and perspectives they will bring back to our students.”
MacDonald, who is a composer, percussionist, and singer, is spending the academic year as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar in Bhopal, India, where he is continuing his vocal lessons with the Gundecha Brothers, who special-ize in dhrupad, the most ancient style of Hindustani classical music that has survived until today in its original form.
“My vocal technique and understanding of this music are improving by leaps and bounds,” he says. “It has been very nice having an extended period of time to really focus on this. I’ve also been composing quite a lot, and using the new ideas I’m learning here in my creative work.”
He also is lecturing on Western classical music. “Every few weeks I offer a class on the history and development of Western classical music. The Indian students at my teachers’ school know nothing about our music, so I’m enjoying educating them.”
MacDonald, who is writing a blog about his experience (paytonmacdonald.wordpress.com) brought his wife and two young daughters along for the year. “Our house is quite nice and we’ve developed some fabulous friendships with our neighbors,” he says. “My Hindi is improving a bit, though not as much as I’d like since I’m mostly focused on music. I’ve also learned how to ride a motorcycle in India, not something I ever thought I’d do!”
Onaivi is lecturing and conducting research on the pharmacological and neural basis of behavior at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, where he will study the effects of locally used, abused, and addictive substances in the East African region, such as khat. A neurobiologist and pharmacist, Onaivi also will supervise research projects by graduate, medical, and pharmacy students at the university.
“Upon return, the experience will allow me to open the door for future collaborations and student exchanges between my laboratory at William Paterson and the graduate, medical, and pharmacy programs at Addis Ababa University,” he explains.
Recently awarded a three-year, $350,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, to study the behavioral effects of specific cell membrane receptors in the brain called CB2 cannabinoids, Onaivi believes his Fulbright research will generate a range of findings applicable to his project, which seeks deeper insight into potential therapeutic drugs for pain, autoimmune, mental, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Watad will spend the year conducting research on organizational innovation in Morocco, which currently suffers from high unemployment rates, especially among university graduates.
“The Arab Spring has propelled the issue of unemployment to the top of the development agenda in countries such as Morocco,” he says. “To create quality jobs and chip away at rising unemployment, these countries must promote innovation and the creation of knowledge-intensive businesses.”
In addition to conducting research on Moroccan firms, Watad, who is an expert on organizational effectiveness, information technology-enabled change, and innovation, is teaching classes at Al Akhawayn University, the only English- language public university in Morocco with about two thousand students.
“I am enjoying teaching my management classes,” he says. “What is astonishing is that all the students, as well as the Moroccan faculty, speak three languages: Arabic, French, and English.”