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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Six from ODU Recognized by Fulbright Program

By Jonah Grinkewitz

Five Old Dominion University faculty members have been selected as Fulbright scholars to study overseas and one has been recognized as a Fulbright scholar Alumni Ambassador.

  • Victoria Time, a professor of sociology and criminal justice in the College of Arts and Letters, will research how disputes are mediated outside of court at the grassroots level in Kenya.
  • Laura Chezan, associate professor of special education in the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, will spend 4½ months in Romania raising awareness for applied behavior analysis and effective interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Xixi Wang, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, will conduct research on semiarid ecohydrology in Australia for four months starting in January 2023.
  • Jesse Richman, associate professor of political science and international studies in the Department of Political Science and Geography, was named to the Fulbright Specialist Roster. This places him among a pool of candidates eligible to be matched to a host institution in the next three years.
  • Deborah Gray, clinical associate professor in the the College of Health Sciences' School of Nursing, has been selected as a Fulbright scholar Alumni Ambassador. Gray was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in 2018 and worked with the University of Botswana and the World Health Organization to expand the number of nurse practitioners in Africa and patient access for nursing and midwifery services globally.
  • Jennifer Fish, a professor in the Women's Studies Department, was named to the Fulbright Senior Specialist Roster.

These latest recipients boost the number of ODU-affiliated Fulbright Scholars to 178. ODU faculty and students have earned 88 Fulbright awards - 60 scholar awards and 17 specialist awards, along with 11 student scholarships. Additionally, the University has hosted 18 foreign Fulbright faculty members and 72 foreign Fulbright students (who earned master's or doctoral degrees at ODU).

Time will be based at the University of Nairobi Law School in Kenya, where she will teach courses on criminal law, procedure and theory, advise graduate students, and give two scheduled talks to the law school community.

She will also conduct field research in remote villages where disputes are mediated at the grassroots level without any formal judicial influence. Her goal is to contribute to journals and possibly write a book based on her research.

She will leave for Kenya in July and spend a year at the university.

"I am eternally grateful for the award and remain quietly ecstatic," Time said. "I look forward with much anticipation to the duties I must accomplish as an awardee, and to the many opportunities that lie ahead of me as a Fulbrighter."

Chezan, who is program coordinator for the Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate Program at ODU, will teach and participate in research projects at Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca in Romania starting around February 2023. She will train pre- and in-service teachers on using effective interventions with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Her research will examine the effects of these interventions in increasing social-communication behaviors with these children.

Through her work, she hopes to shape the academic training and scholarly activities for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty at her host institution.

"This Fulbright Award is an outstanding recognition of my dedication and commitment to improving the lives of individuals with autism and researching effective interventions to enhance their independent functioning in the natural environment," Chezan said. "I am both humbled and grateful for the opportunity to engage in teaching and scholarly activities abroad while being an ambassador of the U.S. in Romania. I am looking forward to this exciting opportunity and to a long-term collaborative partnership with the host institution in Romania."

Wang will collaborate with researchers in the Center for Applied Water Science at the University of Canberra in Australia to learn more about sustaining drylands in changing climates. They will test an ecohydrological model he developed and tested in China and the U.S.

"This Fulbright award offers a unique opportunity for me to exchange ideas and thoughts with the peers in Australia, where various types of drylands have a gross area large enough to affect continental or even global climate," Wang said. "Our collaborative research will continue beyond the Fulbright grant period, leading to an interdisciplinary field of semiarid ecohydrology and a generic ecohydrological model that can simulate abiotic and biotic processes in dryland ecosystems."

Richman, who is awaiting his Fulbright assignment, will spend two weeks in Hungary this month researching the Hungarian election system and will also deliver lectures on data analysis, game theory and policy.

"It's exciting to be able to do something with Fulbright, which is a fabulous international network of scholars," Richman said.

Gray, who was selected as a Fulbright scholar in 2018, will serve a two-year term as an Alumni Ambassador. According to Fulbright, Alumni Ambassadors represent the best of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program and are selected through a competitive process. She will present information about her Fulbright experience at college campuses and academic conferences during her term.

For her Fulbright project in 2018, Gray worked with the University of Botswana and the World Health Organization's Sub-Saharan African Center for Nursing and Midwifery developing telehealth capacity and web-based distance learning that increased educational outreach and health care access and capacity in Botswana and throughout Africa.

"It's truly an honor and humbling to be with the group selected from over 200 Fulbright Faculty and Research Scholars that applied this year to be a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador," Gray said.

Fish will conduct research on women's leadership in post-conflict reconciliation societies in Sub-Saharan Africa. In summer 2022 and 2023, she will partner with Stellenbosch University to document women's experiences of repair, reconciliation and forgiveness.

"This award captures a life aspiration to take part in the Fulbright program's guiding mission to promote peace and international diplomacy through scholarly exchange," Fish said. "With this support, I will be able to share in building a new center at Stellenbosch University and promote the documentation of women leaders' impacts on South Africa throughout the struggle from apartheid to post-democracy."

"It's exciting to see another banner year of Fulbright engagement by ODU faculty in a diverse set of disciplines," said Karen Eck, ODU's assistant vice president for research. "Faculty return with impactful stories of cultural exchange in their host countries. In turn, the experience helps diversify and expand their professional network, scholarship, research and teaching experience. Many continue to be involved with the Fulbright program after their initial exchange, such as Dr. Richman continuing his research in Hungary and Dr. Gray mentoring other scholars as a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador."

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants from over 160 countries the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 39 who have served as a head of state or government.


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