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University of Dubuque to Host Visiting Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence

By Stacey Ortman

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The University of Dubuque has been selected to host its first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence. Csongor Gedeon, PhD, a senior research fellow in the Department of Soil Mapping and Environmental Informatics at the Institute for Soil Sciences in Hungary, will teach in UD's Department of Natural and Applied Sciences during the 2023-2024 academic year. He was selected for the Fulbright award by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

"I'm excited for many things. First of all, I have to say people are very receptive and nice to me and my family as well. Second, I'm excited about teaching. I'm from a research institute in Hungary, so my priorities at home are related to research and not teaching per say. I'm really excited about getting my experience in teaching and learning from those who have had a lot of experience in this," Gedeon said.

He will co-teach Physical Geology with Dale Easley, PhD, professor of geology, this fall, taking on the lab section of class. Gedeon will then teach a special topics class on small burrowing mammals in the spring.

"Csongor and his family are wonderful. We say we want to graduate good global scientists. To do that, you have to interact with people with different backgrounds. Anytime you can expose students to people from different areas with different viewpoints with different expertise, it is going to be valued. I think it's fantastic for our students and also our faculty to learn from Csongor's teaching and research background," said Adam Hoffman, PhD, head of the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences and professor of environmental chemistry.

A field ecologist and conservation biologist, Gedeon is interested in interdisciplinary research and plans to guide students this academic year in research out in the field at locations including Wolter Woods and Prairies Environmental Stewardship and Retreat Center.

"My research focuses on how to use non-destructive proximal sensing methodology to estimate the population size of different ground-dwelling animals. These methods are usually used in geophysics or geology, and what I'm doing is trying to use those non-destructive methods to 'cut' through the soil to try to, for example, visualize or map animal burrows," Gedeon said.

The research complements other research done by faculty in the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences related to small mammals.

"What I'm particularly excited about Csongor's research is using tools that we haven't used here before, so it will expose students to new research opportunities. The main tool is ground penetrating radar, which is a fantastic way of visualizing the below ground stuff. It brings to life what we usually don't see," Hoffman said.

The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program brings visiting scholars from abroad to US colleges and universities, helping institutions internationalize their curricula, campuses, and surrounding communities as well as diversify educational experiences. Gedeon is one of more than 45 Fulbright Scholars-in-Residence and among 1,000 outstanding foreign faculty and professionals who will teach and pursue research in the US this academic year through the worldwide Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.

"Hosting a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence is a great internationalization opportunity for our campus. Bringing new perspectives and engaging the world in a different way and having our students have access to international faculty and their teaching is really important," said Maggie Appel-Schumacher, MA, director of the Office of International Student Services and Study Abroad.

As part of the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program, Gedeon will interact with UD students as well as the community at large via networking and outreach opportunities.

"What he's being charged with while he's here for the academic year is to engage with the community as much as possible, building those relationships on campus and off campus. He'll be part of, whether it's informal or formal, engagements with the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and Dubuque Community Schools where our Fulbright can further develop relationships and international friendship," Appel-Schumacher said.

Gedeon added, "I'm absolutely open to any kind of partnerships or communication, because that's who I am. My family and I were sent to be cultural ambassadors."

The Fulbright Program is the US government's flagship international academic exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. It is funded through an annual appropriation from the US Congress to the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and home and host institutions, corporations, and foundations also provide support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries. Since its inception in 1946, more than 400,000 people have participated in the Fulbright Program and returned home with an expanded worldview, a deep appreciation for their host country and its people, and a new network of colleagues and friends.

"The Fulbright program is a really distinguished program in the United States, and it is pretty competitive across larger, more established universities. It's an honor the University of Dubuque was selected. This idea that UD and the City of Dubuque are worthy of having international conversations that are bigger than this area is really important and we want to expose our students to that. We're not just developing our students to come and work at UD. We're planning for them to be citizens of the world, engaging in conversations and relationships with people that are different from them, and having a Fulbright initiative on campus is another step, along with many other UD initiatives, in the right direction," Appel-Schumacher said.