Expanding a Fulbright with the Outreach Lecturing Fund: Dr. Thomas Gernay in Puerto Rico

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I was invited by Dr. Juan F. Arratia, Executive Director and Principal Investigator at the Student Research Development Center at the Ana G. Mendez University System (AGMUS) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to address the students and scholars at the AGMUS campuses on March 6, 2015.

AGMUS is a minority Hispanic serving institution with an enrollment of over 45,200 students. The Student Research Development Center (SRDC) is the leading organization within the System to motivate, prepare, support and mentor science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate students willing to pursue advanced degrees, at the PhD level, once they complete their undergraduate education at our institutions.

I received the support of the Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF) through an OLF travel award for funding the travel cost, which is gratefully acknowledged.

Accompanied by Dr. Arratia, I visited three campuses administered by AGMUS: the campuses of Universidad Metropolitana, Universidad del Este and Universidad del Turabo in Metropolitan San Juan, Puerto Rico. At Universidad del Turabo and Universidad Metropolitana, I addressed the students and faculty with a talk on my research topics, entitled: “Building Structures in Fire: Insights from Numerical Models”.

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Dr. Arratia also introduced me to several Professors and Executive Members of the Administration at AGMUS.

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Dr. Arratia and I discussed a lot about the activities of the SRDC. Dr. Arratia has been very active to motivate, prepare, support and mentor the AGMUS students to embrace a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In particular, he is committed to give opportunities to undergraduate students willing to pursue advanced degrees, at the PhD level, once they complete their undergraduate education at AGMUS. As part of this effort, he has notably developed a very impressive network in the research community, both at the U.S. and at the international level. This offers the students the opportunity to participate in summer research internships at high level research institutions. The Fulbright program, by promoting the visits of Scholars from many countries, has played a prominent role in the development of this network. Finally, Dr. Arratia also took the time to show me a glimpse of the magnificent Old San Juan. OLF-6_TG

I am grateful to the Fulbright program, and the OLF financial support, for offering me the opportunity to visit the AGMUS minority serving institution, to address motivated and bright students and to possibly start a collaboration with Dr. Arratia.

– Dr. Thomas Gernay
2014-2015 Fulbright Visiting Scholar
Host institution: Princeton University, NJ
Home institution: University of Liege, Belgium

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