Fulbright Scholar Sudhir Uprit with his family in Pullman.
Memon, left, and Uprit. (Photo by Tim Marsh, WSU Today)
Aug. 1 deadline
for scholars to apply
This year WSU is hosting seven Fulbright visiting scholars and 25 Fulbright students. In addition, seven WSU faculty are on Fulbright assignments in other countries, the most WSU has sent abroad in one year. Eastern Washington, Western Washington, Whitman and Gonzaga each sent one Fulbright scholar. The University of Washington sent four.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the program should contact Fulbright Ambassador Mushtaq Memon, an associate professor in veterinary clinical sciences and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. He is one of about 30 Fulbright ambassadors who attend workshops and conferences across the United States to encourage participation in the program.
A Fulbright forum at WSU Spokane is being organized this semester, Memon said, and plans are in the works for workshops on the Pullman campus.
Memon is available to talk with faculty about taking family members overseas, combining a Fulbright with a sabbatical, his own experiences as a Fulbright scholar and other issues.
The Fulbright program was established in 1946 to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries.
The scholars program is for faculty members with a Ph.D. or a terminal degree in a discipline who want to do research and/or teach in a foreign country.
The seven WSU faculty members awarded Fulbright scholar awards for the 2010-2011 academic year include Noel Sturgeon (Pullman), American studies, Canada; Steven Tomsovic (Pullman), physics and astronomy, Germany; Carol Brady Allen (Spokane), medical sciences, Malawi; Linda Eddy (Vancouver), medical sciences, West Bank; Andrew Lino Giarelli (Vancouver), American studies, Slovak Republic; Barry Hewlett (Vancouver), anthropology, Ethiopia; and Bonnie Hewlett (Vancouver), anthropology, Ethiopia.
In addition to Sudhir Uprit of India, the other Fulbright visiting scholars at WSU this year (including their home country, host faculty member and department) are: Ibrahim Al Hamarne, Jordan (Patrick Pedrow, electrical engineering and computer science); Baher Mahmoud Amer, Egypt (Juming Tang, BSE); Irfan Kandemir, Turkey (Steve Sheppard, entomology); Ravi Lonkani, Thailand (Gene Lai, finance); Sanem Sahin, Cyprus (Susan Ross, English); and Andrea Silva-Weiss, Chile (Gustavo Barbosa-Canovas, BSE).
The students program is for graduate students or graduating seniors who want to do post-graduate work in a foreign country.
Sarah Ann Hones, director of distinguished scholarships, said 11 WSU students have applied for awards for next year and should find out their status within the next month or so. The last WSU Fulbright student award recipient was in 2004.
Each year the Fulbright program awards about 8,000 grants, supporting approximately 900 visiting scholars; 1,200 U.S. scholars; 1,600 U.S. students studying abroad; 4,000 foreign students studying in the U.S.; and several hundred teachers and professionals.
PULLMAN – For those who think Pullman winters last forever, consider Fulbright Visiting Scholar Sudhir Uprit, who will return to India in April. He’s pretty sure the next two months will fly by. The last five certainly have.
Uprit arrived in Pullman in August to work in the lab of Juming Tang, professor in biological systems engineering (BSE). Tang is an international leader in microwave technology for food safety application, a process Uprit believes could be extremely beneficial in his home state of Chhatisgarh in central India.
Uprit is a professor and department chair of dairy technology at Indira Gandhi Agricultural University in Raipur.
He said he was drawn to Washington State University because of Tang’s groundbreaking research and because Pullman seemed like a good fit for his family. With plans to bring his wife, Ranjana, and daughters, Gauri and Tanvi, with him, he wanted a community that had a lot to offer but was a manageable size.
Touched by community kindness
“I know a smaller town has advantages,” he said recently, sitting in his spartan office in the Food Science and Human Nutrition building.
And he was right. Two days after he arrived, he and Ranjana were shopping when Colleen Harvey, a longtime supporter of WSU’s Friends and Family program
, approached them, introduced herself and told Ranjana about English language classes offered at a local church. When Ranjana expressed interest, Harvey organized several friends to help her get back and forth to class.
“What this gave me
” Uprit said, and paused, “the very idea that people are here with pure heart which is full of love.” In his experience, he said, WSU and the Pullman community are ready and willing to help international families – from strangers in grocery stores, to the friendly bus driver on the evening J route that takes him home, to one of his daughter’s teachers at Pullman High School.
Soon after his daughters started school, Uprit said, he got an e-mail from chemistry teacher Barbara Harding. Since the Uprits would only be in Pullman a few months, she wrote, she was sending along a list of home furnishings that they were welcome to borrow during their stay.
When Uprit gratefully selected a few items, Harding delivered them and a lot more besides.
“This is something you cannot imagine,” he said. “I may be one of the luckiest people in the world to meet such kind people.”
Learning all they can
Indeed, the spirit of the Fulbright program is to promote understanding and friendship. According to the website
, the program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
During his time in Pullman, Uprit said, he and his family have taken full advantage of what WSU has to offer. They have participated in service projects through the Center for Civic Engagement and attended events on campus and in the community. Just about every weekend, he said, they have places to go and people to meet, be they American, Chinese or Indian.
While some of the extracurricular activities are just for fun, Uprit also has been intentional about exploring WSU’s student services, particularly ADCAPS (Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Assessment and Prevention Services) and the Native American Student Center.
Indigenous people of India, known as adivasi
, comprise as much as 8 percent of the Indian population, and much more in Uprit’s home state. Providing services for students in need of support is a special area of interest, he said.
Groundbreaking food preservation technology
For the myriad ways Uprit and his family have immersed themselves in Pullman and WSU, his primary focus, and one that will continue after his return home, has been finding a way to make dairy products safe and healthy without refrigeration. That’s where Tang’s laboratory comes in.
An internationally recognized food engineer, Tang has been working on technology transfer issues so that the novel food processing technology he has developed can be used in a variety of environments and on a variety of food.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved microwave technology for use in preserving both “homogenous” and “non-homogenous” food. The “homogenous” approval came in 2009 and was based on mashed potatoes. The “non-homogenous” approval came in December and was based on salmon fillets in sauce (see earlier article
The technology has not been tested or adapted to Indian conditions or Indian foods, Uprit said, and he’s excited to be involved in that process.
International perspectives enrich WSU
Uprit was one of two Fulbright visiting scholars in Tang’s lab this year. The other was Baher Mahmoud Amer who returned to Egypt just before the protests began there in January.
“We are becoming a global village and you have to know the members of the village,” Tang said. “It really enriches our program to have different perspectives.”
Tang said Uprit sat in on his classes and shared his technical skills while helping supervise graduate students in research projects. Uprit said he enjoyed the close connection between teaching and research at WSU.
“The approach of teaching and research has made me sounder in academics,” he said.
Techniques could make Indian food more available
The focus of Uprit’s research has been to better understand how microwave technology could be adapted to dairy products. For instance, a variety of everyday Indian foods such as shrikhand (sweet flavored yogurt dessert), khoa (similar to ricotta cheese), kalakand (a sweet made milk and cottage cheese), and rasgulla (balls of cottage cheese and dough cooked in sugar syrup) are simple to make but time-consuming, he said.
They cannot be packaged and sold because they are milk based and the shelf life is limited. But, he said, with technology developed at WSU, those products could be processed, packaged and sold with no loss of quality or nutrients.
“I want that they should be available on a commercial basis with better shelf life,” he said.
According to Uprit, India is the highest producer of milk in the world, with 14 million dairy farmers and 1,033,000 village cooperatives. If microwave technology could improve the shelf life of traditional Indian milk products, the market for these goods would extend beyond India to fans of paneer (fresh curd cheese) and gulab jamun (deep fried flavored sweet dough and milk) worldwide.
Sharing his expertise
With only two months left in Pullman, Uprit is making every minute count. In the past two weeks he has given talks for the BSE department about the dairy industry in India and potential new markets. Another talk was geared for a wider audience in the College of Veterinary Medicine. And he spoke about hormones in milk production for Spokane Falls Community College in the Gladish Community Center in Pullman.
March on the Palouse is pretty unpredictable, but Uprit is one of very few people who will be sad to see it end, no matter what the weather is like. He and his family will be heading home the beginning of April.