Seven Fulbright scholars will conduct research around the world

Political science faculty & staff. Carol Weissert
Carol Weissert, director of the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University.

Seven Florida State University researchers will spend the academic year conducting research abroad through grants from the Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program.

One of them, Carol Weissert, has been awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair, the most prestigious appointment in the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Weissert, a professor of political science and the LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar Chair, is the director of the LeRoy Collins Institute in the FSU College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. She is one of about 40 people in the nation to receive a Fulbright Distinguished Chair this year. To be considered for a distinguished chair award, candidates must be eminent scholars and have significant publishing and teaching records.

Weissert’s award will allow her to travel to Australia, where she will spend four months at Flinders University in Adelaide comparing the influence of state elected officials on national health policy over the past decade. Both the United States and Australia are federations with strong state governments, and both have experienced hyper-partisanship over this period that has affected the role of states.
“I will be collecting data and interviewing federal and state officials throughout the country,” Weissert said.

Weissert also will collect data from the Council of Australian Governments, which helps facilitate interaction between federal and state officials there, and conduct interviews with the council’s officials and staff.

“The Fulbright Distinguished Chair provides me a wonderful opportunity to examine in detail similarities and differences of two similar federations — the United States and Australia,” she said. “I will have access to key informants and data that simply wouldn’t be possible without this position. I am very much looking forward to it and think the resulting research will be valuable to our understanding of partisanship and federalism.”

Sally McRorie, FSU’s provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, characterized the Fulbright program as representing the best of the nation’s scholarly achievements.

FSU’s other Fulbright scholars for 2015-2016 are (top from left) Piyush Kumar, Owen Mundy and Jean Munn, and (bottom from left) Giray Okten, Rodney Roberts and Margaret Wright-Cleveland.

“The vital research of these seven Florida State scholars will be strengthened through engagement with scholars from other nations and then shared with our own students and colleagues in their fields in keeping with the mission of the Fulbright Scholars Program,” McRorie said.

In addition to Weissert, FSU’s other Fulbright scholars for 2015-2016 are Piyush Kumar, associate professor of computer science; Owen Mundy, associate professor of art; Jean Munn, associate professor of social work; Giray Okten, professor of mathematics; Rodney Roberts, professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Margaret Wright-Cleveland, director of the Office of Faculty Recognition.

The six, some of whom have already begun their work, will study a range of subject areas:

Kumar will travel to New Delhi, India, to study k-means clustering in the Department of Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. In the field of computer science, k-means clustering is a method of vector quantization, originally from signal processing, which is popular for cluster analysis in data mining.

“I am indebted to FSU, and IIT Delhi, particularly to the two Computer Science Departments, for their mentorship and support,” Kumar said. “The Fulbright award gives me the opportunity to visit the best computer science department in India and learn new and exciting things from researchers there. I could not have asked for more.”

In addition to working with world-renowned scientists at the institute, Kumar will travel to multiple places in India to give talks about his work.

FSU’s other Fulbright scholars for 2015-2016 are (top from left) Piyush Kumar, Owen Mundy and Jean Munn, and (bottom from left) Giray Okten, Rodney Roberts and Margaret Wright-Cleveland.
Mundy will examine the development of privacy laws and cultural expectations for online information security to compare policy between the United States and Austria at Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt.
“Austria and other entities in the European Union enacted comprehensive legislation protecting citizens’ rights to privacy for their information, but no such laws exist here,” Mundy said. “Arguably, the U.S. is moving in the opposite direction, given the advanced and far-reaching methods for collecting and analysis of private data by the National Security Agency.”
“I am interesting in investigating startup culture, Internet activism and cultural attitudes toward personal data,” he said.
Munn will travel to Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, to replicate some of her recent research working with social workers who have the difficult job of engaging with residents at long-term care facilities at the end of life and their families.

“This opportunity is going to allow me to forge a new collaboration in the Czech Republic with people with similar research interests,” she said.

While in the Czech Republic, Munn will interview social workers in Prague to see how they see their roles with residents who have end-of-life experiences in nursing homes. She hopes to be able to compare what the barriers are, how comfortable the social workers feel and how much engagement they have with residents and their families going through an end-of-life experience.

Okten is serving as a Fulbright Scholar senior lecturer at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is teaching a course called Monte Carlo Methods in Financial Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics to upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students from the mathematics and engineering departments. He designed the course in 2006 for the graduate program in financial mathematics at Florida State.

Okten also is working on a graduate textbook based on his lecture notes for the Monte Carlo class.
“Receiving the Fulbright award has been a tremendous honor,” he said. “Visiting Bogazici University and the opportunity to interact with the other Fulbright scholars in Turkey has been a very enriching experience both professionally and personally.”

Roberts will study the design and control of robots with the world-class robotics team within the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Macau, which has new, state-of-the-art engineering facilities to support robotics research.

“I will be doing research on computational intelligence in robotics and automation,” Roberts said.
The University of Macau is on its way to becoming a leading university in Asia, according to Roberts.
“It is a very exciting opportunity to work with the University of Macau robotics research team, and I am thankful to the Fulbright Program for this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Roberts said. “I look forward to sharing ideas on cutting-edge robotics-related technology with researchers and students at the University of Macau.”

Wright-Cleveland is teaching in the American Studies program and doing research on Bernard Binlin Dadié at the University Felix-Houphouet-Boigny in Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivory Coast.

“I am interested in how he used his writings for political purposes and how his work might connect with the work of American Black Arts Movement writers,” Wright-Cleveland said.

For her research, Wright-Cleveland is working with an undergraduate researcher through FSU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program to create a complete bibliography of all writing by and about Dadié. She is translating Dadié’s poetry and will visit the Bibliothéque Nationale de la Côte d’Ivoire (BNCI) in Abidjan to find newspaper and other press articles that show how Dadié’s writing, particularly his plays, were received in the Ivory Coast when they premiered.

FSU’s seven Fulbrights are among nearly 600 U.S. faculty and administrators who will travel abroad during the 2015-2016 academic year through the Fulbright Scholar Program. Fulbright scholars are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Scholar Programis an international educational exchange program designed to increase the mutual understanding between citizens of the United States and those of more than 155 participating countries.

FSU students and scholars interested in learning more about the Fulbright Scholar Program can visit