KU's Global Network
More than 300 visiting international scholars come to KU to work in departments, units and centers across campus every year. Researchers, visiting faculty, short-term scholars, and visitors help foster international education and offer international perspectives to all disciplines.
Learn more about KU’s visiting scholars below.
Gabriel de Oliveira
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais
Making connections between the Amazon jungle and the Kansas prairie might not be an obvious research initiative. Geography postdoc Gabriel de Oliveira is finding those similitudes with his past and current research that examines the land cover change of both environments to see what happens when natural vegetation is disturbed and the carbon dioxide rate is increased.
Oliveira’s dissertation covered remote sensing in the Amazon rainforest. He has brought the same skills and interests to the prairie. With his advisor Professor Nate Brunsell, they are using remote sensing, satellite and ground data, to monitor the prairie vegetation year round. Oliveira describes the research at the Konza Prairie near Manhattan as a new approach, gathering the surface temperature, evaporation and carbon fluctuation data. He felt at home on the prairie as it is similar to the landscape of his home in Southern Brazil.
His appointment is half time with KU and half time with the Kansas Land Institute, where he has been introduced to a new kind of wheat grain, a perennial called Kernza, which can be found in a few Kansas fields. This grain can help with high water efficiency so less carbon is released.
Flavio de Arruda Saron
Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil
Southern Brazil has seen big changes in its landscape and labor market as sugar cane production has increased. Flavio de Arruda Saron’s dissertation research focuses on the effects of sugar cane expansion on the family farm. Through more than 50 interviews the geography doctoral student is exploring if people will stay on the farms that they are renting to sugar cane companies.
De Arruda came to KU to work with Professor Chris Brown on a fellowship to finish his dissertation. He described his research as an examination of the crisis of family farming, as small scale family farms have decreased in São Paulo State and other parts of Brazil. Western demand for sugar, cheap capital, subsidized credit and the expansion of transnational companies led to the growth of sugar cane production. Large scale agriculture are replacing small family farms, and the aging farmers are the last in their families to stay on the land.
De Arruda’s biggest challenge at KU has been language. He took two English classes at the Applied English Center last summer and used to attend the English classes offered at Plymouth Congregational Church.
Rohini Devasher is one of four international artists-in-residence whose works will be featured in the first show in the Spencer Museum of Arts’ newly remodeled Central Court.
Inspired by the intersection of art and science, the Indian artist’s drawing of a quadrant of the galaxy is part of “Temporal Turn: Art and Speculation in Contemporary Asia.” A video shot at the Indian Astronomical Observatory, the world’s second highest observatory, will be overlaid on the drawing. With the interplay of video and a large scale galactic rendering, her work “makes the familiar strange.”
Devasher describes herself as an amateur astronomer and traces that interest to science fiction, specifically the work of Arthur C. Clarke. Being at a university with KU’s resources has given her the opportunity to consult with KU faculty members in physics and atmospheric science and to gather new information and inspiration.
Curator Kris Ercums invited Devasher to participate in the show and she came to KU last September for a site visit. This is her first time formulating a work of this scale as it covers a wall.
The Temporal Turn exhibit opens Nov. 10 with a reception from 6-8 p.m.
Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant
Before coming to KU, Amanpreet Sawhney had not considered Hindi grammar since her childhood. As a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant, every day she thinks about how to share linguistic concepts with her KU students.
At KU she is reversing her teaching experience. Her role is to come up with activities to supplement Lecturer Patrica Sabarwa’s curriculum. Using songs, cultural topics, mini-lectures (depending on the class level), she engages the students and helps them practice key concepts. Sawhney speaks at a natural speed to help the students’ listening comprehension.
Another benefit of learning a language from native speakers is that Sawhney joins Sabarwa “bringing her culture” to their Hindi classes. All of the three levels of classes celebrated Janmashtami, an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna.
To get the most out of her first time in the United States, Sawhney wants to immerse herself in American culture. To that end, she is taking two classes this semester Methods of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Survey of African American Fiction.
Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant
Cihat Özenç is spending his year at KU as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant. As the semester has progressed, Özenç has observed and then taken over some lessons of the three levels of Turkish from Lecturer Esra Predolac. He sees his role to strengthen the students’ language skills and to give feedback on their writing and has been pleased with their eagerness to learn.
With Turkish videos from the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center and other resources, he has “room to be creative” in his lesson planning.
This semester Özenç expanding his view of the world by taking French and an American studies class about the 1950s. He has taken advantage of the French language club and table, as well as the French movies shown on campus.
Özenç is on his way to achieving his goals of improving his spoken English and learning new teaching techniques from Predolac.
University of Potsdam, Germany
Lilia Schuercks loves teaching and research, an “inseparable process.” The professor from the University of Potsdam in Berlin, Germany, is at KU on a German Academic Exchange Service fellowship.
She is teaching two graduate courses this semester, Slavic Syntax and Slavic Sociolinguistics. When she enters the classroom, Schuercks is interested in new methods of teaching and learning. She believes that the combination of inquiry-based learning and cooperative learning promote in-class discussions and help students learn through dialogue and debate. “My impression in an American classroom is that the lecturer is mainly a facilitator, coaching and facilitating the student through the learning process. At the same time, students themselves play an active and participatory role in it. They work with their peers and learn from them,” she said.
The interdisciplinary focus of the Slavic Languages & Literatures and the new School of Languages, Literatures and Culture is something she wants to take back to Germany. The Honors Program is a new concept to her, so she wants to learn more about it how it is facilitated and integrated into the university. Schuercks would like to initiate a project dealing with the language and identity of the Pomaks, Bulgarian-speaking Muslims in the Balkans, with colleagues from the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the Department of Anthropology,
Xi'dian University, China
Meizhen Zhang has spent her first six months at KU helping Professor Changming Duan design a new center to help international students adjust to life at an American university. Coming from the Department of Psychology at Xi’dian University in China, her focus is the mental health of college students. She is conducting psychological needs assessment for Chinese international students and related coping/acculturation/cultural adjustment research.
Zhang has met many Chinese students and has heard about their trouble acclimating because of their low level English skills and confusion about how the university operates. The Life Coaching and Research Center for International Students has designed six sessions of the four life coaching groups focused on culture shock, romantic relationships, non-romantic relationships and career development. Zhang and three Chinese doctoral students lead the groups, the first of which began in October with 13 Chinese student participants.
Zhang’s colleague will come to KU to continue her work at the center. Zhang will take back her impressions of student life at an American university, including differences in teaching methods and how American students express ideas more freely.
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia
With the American presidential campaign in full swing, it’s an optimal time for a communication studies professor who researches social media to be in the United States. Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Alcides Velasquez is spending the semester teaching and conducting research on social and political activism on social media, and their individual and collective outcomes. The assistant professor from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia, is teaching minority representations in the media and Communication and the Internet.
Finding collaborators was one of his goals in coming to Lawrence. Velasquez is planning two research projects with School of Journalism and Department of Communications faculty. The projects are still being defined, but the journalism project should focus on how people are discussing immigration on Twitter during the presidential primaries. How Latinos and non-Latinos use social media and if that translates into more meaningful political interaction. In the preliminary stages of the project, Velasquez and his collaborators are deciding what kind of data to collect and what Twitter hashtags to monitor. They are looking at “just regular users” who use hashtags related to the topic of immigration and illegal immigration.
Valesquez likes the university culture, where faculty are focused on teaching and research, “pushing the boundaries of knowledge.” In contrast to Columbia, where time is more flexible, class starts on time, and faculty meetings last as long as the scheduled time.
A requirement of being the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor is giving a public lecture. Valesquez will present “Follow Us: Understanding Social Media Individual and Collective Political Participation and Activism” at 3:30 p.m., October 28, in The Commons of Spooner Hall.
University of Aarhus, Denmark
Every doctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus in Denmark is required and subsidized to spend at least one semester doing research abroad and creating an international network. Mathilde Cecchini came to KU as a result of her advisor’s international network, her connections to Professor Steven Maynard Moody.
Her research focuses on health promotion in the Danish public school system. Health promotion has become a high priority for the Danish government, and a substantial part of health promotion initiatives are aimed at children in public schools. She is investigating how the implementation of these health promoting initiatives influences the formation of students' self-understanding and identity regarding their health practices, and how teachers and peers may influence this process of identity formation in both positive and negative ways.
Maynard Moody has read her research proposal and he will comment and make suggestions - mainly focusing on the theoretical and methodological framework. In addition, he has introduced Cecchini to the faculty and doctoral students at the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and she is participating in their “Lunch and Learn” meetings. She also is auditing a doctoral level seminar taught by Distinguished Professor Rosemary O'Leary.
Cecchini is also expanding her international network through the Institute for Policy & Social Research Doctoral Research Fellows Program, where a select group of doctoral students meet regularly to discuss their research and share experience and knowledge. She finds these meetings interesting - from an academic perspective, but also from a cultural perspective. “It is interesting to hear about the PhD program here at KU and discuss how it differs from Denmark, and how the academic job market is here in the U.S.,” she said.
Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the University of Munich, Germany
Annka Liepold came to KU to study environmental history at the place the discipline began. The visiting international scholar is the first person in the exchange program between KU’s Department of History and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the University of Munich, Germany. She researched corn in the Midwest since January, examining books and data that she cannot access in Germany. Liepold chose her dissertation topic because she wanted to focus on an American food subject and was fascinated that the corn system impacts so many levels of food production, even though it’s mainly grown as a non-food crop.
She immersed herself in the activities of the Department of History by auditing two classes to see how environmental history is taught in the United States and attending weekly department brownbags. The active engagement between faculty and graduate students has been a great source of feedback and has helped narrowed the focus of her research, Liepold said. Establishing a writing routine was a breakthrough for her. She found a process that worked based on William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and writing has become easier.
Learning about the science of corn breeding, specifically soil structure analysis from people in the Environmental Studies program, has been a benefit of her time at KU.
After Liepold’s return to Germany, she wants to encourage closer interaction between professors and graduate students and maintain her writing routine as she gets back to her part-time job.
University of Delhi, India
Anupam Jha is the only law professor of the 110 Indian faculty members who received a Raman Fellowship last year. The fellowship enabled the University of Delhi professor to come to KU to continue his work in renewable energy law. Jha met Rice Distinguished Professor Raj Bhala in Delhi before he came to KU, so he had some knowledge of the School of Law.
His KU experience has been “more than he hoped.” Bhala and Associate Professor Uma Outka have provided support. Renewable energy is not a law speciality in India, so having access to the law library, online resources and being able to audit one of Bhala’s class all have enhanced his knowledge in this area.
Jha’s progress on his research comparing renewable energy laws in India and the United States enabled him to begin writing during his time in Lawrence. As he described it, two things can happened as a result of the writing process, presenting a workshop in search of constructive feedback and going to a conference. Jha did both; he attended the Association for Law, Property, and Society conference at the University of Georgia where he chaired a session and presented a paper.
How faculty interact with students, “their kindness and encouragement” has impressed Jha. He wants to maintain his connections with KU professors. Renewable energy is not a law speciality in India, so Jha would like to add that to recognized fields of law.