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Three Clarkson professors receive Fulbright Scholar Awards

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POTSDAM - Three Clarkson University professors are preparing to lead classes and conduct research in South Africa, Romania, and Slovenia this fall as recipients of prestigious Fulbright Scholar Awards.

Michelle L. Crimi, associate professor in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment; Devon A. Shipp, professor of chemistry & biomolecular science; and Annegret D. Staiger, associate professor of anthropology; bring to nine the number of Clarkson University faculty members to receive Fulbright Awards over the past six years. In all, 37 members of the faculty have received Fulbright Awards.

“Clarkson is very proud of our participation in the Fulbright program,” Clarkson Provost and Senior Vice President Chuck Thorpe said. “This year, we have three outstanding professors, headed to three far-flung locations, to work on three very different topics. We know, based on our past experience, that they will come back enriched from their time overseas — they will have expanded both their professional and their personal horizons. We look forward to welcoming them back to campus to share their new insights and experiences with us.”

The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State and is designed to promote “mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world.”

Industrial Waste Management in South Africa

Michelle Crimi will be at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, working with the civil and environmental engineering department. Her award is for a combined teaching/research experience where she will develop a new collaborative course, “Sustainable Industrial Waste Management: Global Challenges and Opportunities,” to be taught simultaneously at Clarkson University and UKZN. The northeastern U.S. and South Africa have many similar industries, she says, but waste is managed differently.

She also will teach courses and contribute to curriculum development in environmental science and/or engineering at UKZN; conduct and plan collaborative research focused on groundwater remediation and water treatment; and deliver workshops and seminars focused on groundwater remediation.

“I’m excited to see different students and their perspectives,” she says. “Their summer is opposite of ours, so I’ll do research first, then begin teaching in February. Through distance learning, we can connect to virtual classrooms. This really fits in with Clarkson University’s mission to make students aware and connected to the broader world.”

The professor and her family are looking forward to their upcoming year-long adventure.

“We’ll be in a city of 2 million people but still not far from an amazing national park. My husband and I and our two little boys are very excited,” she says.

Crimi joined the faculty at Clarkson in 2005. She received her bachelor of science degree at Clarkson, her master of science at Colorado State University, and her Ph.D. from Colorado School of Mines.

Biodegradable Polymers & New Hybrid Materials

Devon Shipp will be working with leading researchers at the University of Ljubljana and the Slovenian National Institute of Chemistry, studying new hybrid biodegradable polymer materials that have great potential in the medical field, such as for drug delivery and wound healing.

Shipp’s research interests lie in polymer chemistry. He has been the recipient or co-recipient of over $2 million in research funding from industry, government and non-profit agencies.

As he explores hybrid materials and degradable plastics, he says, “My hope is that we understand what these hybrids do for us in devices such as sutures or glues, and how they will perform as drug delivery vehicles. An application for what we learn may be still years away, but the more we understand at early stages, the more confident we can go to the FDA for approval.”

“I also expect to learn a significant amount of the Slovenian science and culture and bring a unique perspective of the U.S. to Slovenia,” he says. “This visit also further builds the relationship between Clarkson University and the University of Ljubljana that has resulted in student exchanges over recent years.”

His wife and two children are looking forward to their adventure in Slovenia, he adds.

“This is a major thoroughfare between the East and West. There’s a lot of history there,” he says.

Shipp joined the faculty at Clarkson in 1999 and was promoted to full professor in 2011. He received his bachelor of science degree and his Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Romanian Sex Work Migrants and the State

Annegret Staiger will be going to Romania on a research and teaching award. She will spend the fall semester at the University of Cluj Napoca, and the spring semester at West University of Timisoara.

“My research will be about how the Romanian state responds to Romanian women who are working in the German sex industry,” she says. “Romanian sex workers constitute one of the largest groups of women who are identified by Germany as victims of human trafficking. An unknown number, however, work independently in Germany’s sex industry, sending back remittances to their home country. Foreign remittances constitute a significant source of income for the Romanian state.”

The European Union demands a stricter policy from the Romanian state against human trafficking, she explains.

“So the question is, does the state try to seek victims where there are none in order to respond to the European Union’s demands for anti-trafficking efforts, or does it turn a blind eye as this population group contributes a significant proportion of the state’s direly needed revenue stream?,” she says.

Some of the courses Staiger teaches at Clarkson examine gender and sexuality. She has been studying Germany’s sex industry at length, which forms the basis for this new research focus. This subsequent research proposed in Romania will follow the largest national group of sex workers into their home countries and examine their reception by the state there.

Staiger joined the faculty at Clarkson in 2000. She received her master of arts degree and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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