GV encourages collaboration through scholarship


Anisimova Evgenia

Photo Courtesy/Professor Cáel M. Keegan

Payton Brazzil, Staff Writer

According to U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Grand Valley State University now ranks among the nation’s leaders in producing Fulbright scholars.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors the U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program, which encourages academic collaborations between U.S. faculty and international schools. 

The program offers U.S. citizens — and those of other countries — grants for university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. 

Professors Cáel Keegan and Bopi Biddanda are currently working with universities in Canada and Spain. 

According to Fulbright’s website, the program is named after Sen. J. William Fulbright, who believed that through educational exchange, people would have a better understanding of the cultures of others, promoting peace and friendship among nations.

In a GVNext Article Robert Smart, Executive Director for the Center of Scholarly and Creative Excellence said this was a great accomplishment for the university. 

“To be recognized as an institution that exemplifies the mission of Fulbright and the quality of education at GVSU deserves to be celebrated,” Smart said. “This acknowledgment highlights the outstanding quality of our faculty in regards to their teaching and research expertise.”

Fulbright scholars are selected in part for their demonstrated leadership potential. 

Both Keegan and Biddanda are working towards intellectual and cultural pursuits in an environment of academic freedom and collaboration. 

Keegan, an assistant professor of women, gender and sexuality studies and liberal studies, is working with faculty and students on transgender studies at Canada’s Carleton University. 

Biddanda, a professor at GVSU’s Annis Water Resources Institute, researches the ecosystems of lakes in Spain and the Great Lakes in order to work on local, regional and global environmental change. 

“My Fulbright project here is to explore lakes, streams and rivers of Spain and the North American Great Lakes basin,” Biddanda said. “Progress in this area not only informs us of the effect of climate change on these critical ecosystems but also helps devise better strategies to protect our freshwater resources.”

At the University of Granada in Spain, Biddanda is involved with hands-on-research in the high-mountain lakes of Sierra Nevada and works with the K-12 stage through their “Rios de Vida,” or Rivers of Life, programs.

Biddanda said being a successful Fulbright scholar involves learning about the host country and sharing knowledge about the U.S. with students, colleagues and friends in their host country. 

Biddanda said that when he returns to the U.S., he hopes to share his findings and experiences with the GVSU community. 

“I hope to share my Fulbright Spain experience with GVSU students and colleagues in the classroom and the laboratory,” Biddanda said. “The collaborations I have initiated at the University of Granada will result in ongoing student and faculty exchanges between the two universities.” 

Biddanda said he encourages all GVSU students and faculty to consider seeking out a Fulbright fellowship. 

“This experience has been a life-enriching experience and motivates me to make future meaningful contributions to the GVSU community,” Biddanda said.