Associate Professor of Chemistry at CSU Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to Ethiopia

AbegazSamuelCOLUMBUS, Ga. — The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the awarding committee for one of the nation’s most prestigious international exchange programs, recently named Columbus State University Associate Professor of chemistry Samuel Abegaz a Fulbright Scholar.

Beginning this September, Abegaz will join the ranks of other distinguished professionals, including heads of state, judges, ambassadors, CEOs and university presidents, to research and teach at Addis Ababa University, the oldest and largest higher learning and research institution in Ethiopia. He will spend most of his 10-month tenure teaching analytical and atmospheric chemistry courses and researching air pollution with particular emphasis on toxic heavy metals in ambient air and wet depositions.

Air pollution, Abegaz said, is one the most serious problems affecting Addis Ababa, causing short- and long-term health conditions, including cancer, brain, liver and kidney damage, heart disease, respiratory failure, headaches, allergic reactions and upper respiratory infections.

“I hope my research findings on atmospheric chemistry will generate positive interest and draw greater attention from students, scientists and policy makers to teach and take extra measures in preventing air pollution in Ethiopia,” Abegaz said.

Abegaz looks to help fill a void in research caused by “brain drains,” or an exodus of the country’s most qualified scientists and professionals.

According to the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), the proportion of academic staff with a doctorate in Ethiopia has declined from 28 percent in 1995-1996 to just 5 percent in 2009-2010. Abegaz hopes to help and overcome some of the challenges created by these skilled labor shortages by offering lectures and seminars to students and conducting scientific research in Addis Ababa University’s College of Physical Science. Abegaz also will assist faculty in curriculum development and advise undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing research in analytical, environmental or atmospheric chemistry.

Abegaz has been working with faculty from Addis Ababa University since 2003. In Spring 2011 and 2012, he took CSU students to Addis Ababa University on a study abroad program.

“Addis Ababa University offers access to several resources that will be indispensable to my research,” he said. “Moreover, I have good connections with the entire department, and these connections will help me properly execute my project and facilitate my teaching activities.”

Abegaz says he plans to bring the lessons he learns in Ethiopia back to Columbus State.

“I will make every effort to bring my Fulbright experiences to campus by giving presentations based on my research findings,” he said. I will encourage my colleagues to pursue more Fulbright opportunities and encourage my students to study abroad. I want to invigorate my teaching and inspire my students to explore worlds beyond their campus and continent.”

Sponsored by the U.S. government and administered by CIES, the CORE Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program provides about 800 grants to faculty and professionals in 125 countries. The program, named after Senator J. William Fulbright, seeks to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

More information about the Fulbright Scholar Program can be found online at http://www.cies.org/.

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