Czech Republic - The University of Tulsa

Czech Republic

Professors receive Fulbright awards to conduct research in Europe

University of Tulsa Professor of Marketing Brian Chabowski has been granted a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Finland and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Erin Iski has received a Fulbright award to the Czech Republic.

“This recognition supports Dr. Chabowski’s well-regarded research in international marketing and sustainability, plus his professional background provides a solid foundation for his proposed Fulbright projects,” remarked Acting Provost Tracy Manly. “For Dr. Iski, the Fulbright award allows her to advance her work at this critical stage of her career and then share the findings with the growing number of TU students who are interested in the intersection of biology and chemistry.”

Sustainability in Finland

man with short hair and glasses smiling while wearing a black blazer
Brian Chabowski

Beginning in August 2021, Chabowski will research for nine months at the University of Vaasa in partnership with the Fulbright Finland Foundation as part of a series of projects that examine domestic and international aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability implementation. “Since I began studying the topic of sustainability over a decade ago,” Chabowski said, “it has been well known that Finland is a model country which has successfully implemented widespread sustainability projects in the private and public sectors in a very comprehensive manner on a local, national, and international scale.”

His proposal includes four distinct projects to begin while in Finland. These plans focus on international social ventures; marketing channel sustainability; emergent and sustainable energy solutions for small and medium enterprises; and digital entrepreneurship and sustainability competitiveness. He intends to coordinate with local partners of the University of Vaasa, such as the Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab and the Technobothnia research and development laboratory to survey local businesses on their domestic and international sustainability-related initiatives. “It is a great honor to be selected as a Fulbright scholar, and I want to take this exceptional opportunity to conduct in-country research and then return with newly gained insights to apply to real-life classroom examples as well as elsewhere at TU.”

Under the microscope in the Czech Republic

woman with long light-colored hair smiling and wearing a patterned blouse
Erin Iski

Based at Charles University in Prague, Iski will focus on the use of specialized microscopy to understand and investigate biological molecules on gold nanoparticles. Her work is pertinent to a variety of fields, including origin of life studies, in which it is critical to understand how small biological molecules interact on metal surfaces and perhaps join together to grow larger structures, such as proteins. Iski’s collaboration with Anna Fučíková in Prague is essential to the success of the larger project because Fučíková’s group is particularly suited to understanding these interactions under biological conditions. “In many ways,” noted Iski, “this scholarship presents the natural next step in my foundational work at TU.”

Becoming a Fulbright Global Scholar has been a career goal of Iski’s for as long as she knew the opportunity existed. “Now, not only will I have the chance to perform transformative research in a group that specializes in my niche research area, but I also get to create lasting cultural and academic relationships in one of the most amazing places in Europe.” Iski added that, given her ancestral background is in Eastern Europe, she looks forward to immersing herself in the culture, history and language of the Czech Republic. “And after learning about the Fulbright mission, I believe these goals are exactly what was intended in the founding of this program.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, to counter misunderstandings and to help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and discover solutions to shared international concerns.

English graduate student receives Fulbright award

Muriel Unseth (BBA ’19) has received a Fulbright award to the Czech Republic for the 2021-22 academic year. Currently, Unseth is nearing completion of a master’s degree in The University of Tulsa’s Department of English Language and Literature. “I’m scared and thrilled and absolutely honored to have this opportunity,” said Unseth. “How many times in your life do you get to sign up for a genuine adventure?”

young woman with long hair wearing a black top standing outdoors in front of red flowers
Muriel Unseth

“Now in its 75th year, the Fulbright program is one of the most competitive and prestigious fellowship programs for academic exchange,” noted Karen Petersen, dean of Kendall College of Arts and Sciences. “TU has a history of success with national and international fellowships, which demonstrates the value of the strong education students receive at TU and the personal growth they achieve as part of that process. Congratulations to Muriel and the faculty and staff who advised and mentored her during her time at TU.”

Overseas adventure awaits

For 10 months, Unseth will serve as a teaching assistant at a high school in a small town outside of Prague. “The Czech Republic’s education system is different than ours,” Unseth explained, “and students select their career paths very early and the education system is therefore more specialized. I could be placed in a gymnasium, a traditional high school focused on college preparation, or I could be placed in a school that specializes in agriculture, military education, nursing, business, arts and music, forestry, wine production — it’s a mixed bag that all sounds pretty fascinating!”

Unseth applied for the Czech program both because she is interested in teaching at the high school level and because the program is curated to be a blend of language acquisition, cultural education and community participation. “That’s a rather dry way to say that I get to connect with kids inside and outside of the classroom,” Unseth remarked. Another aspect of her job will be developing a community club or program. In Unseth’s case, she is planning to create something around her interests in literature or running.

“I am so proud of Muriel and so excited for her to experience this upcoming adventure in the Czech Republic,” said Laura Stevens, the chair of the Department of English Language and Literature. “As a scholar, a teacher and most of all as a person, Muriel fully merits this award. Fulbright Scholars serve at once in an academic and a diplomatic position, fostering international ties, and I know she will do a wonderful job representing the United States and TU abroad.”

Inspired to learn more

On a personal note, Unseth observed, “my primary field of research in my English MA has been modernist literature and the history of the 20th century, and the Czech Republic is right in the middle of European political and martial conflict, particularly WWII through the Cold War. I’m excited to learn more about their history and culture.”

As she looks back on her studies at TU, Unseth notes that the faculty of the Department of English Language and Literature has inspired her “by the quality of their scholarship, the tenacity of their commitment to humanities education and the kindness and encouragement that has characterized my six years here. I can’t say enough how much I have loved being a part of this community, and how much I admire and respect all the faculty who have made my time here so rewarding. All of my English professors are the coolest people I know.”

Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. As a grantee, Unseth will join the ranks of Fulbright alumni who have become heads of state, jusges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. These include 60 Nobel Laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize winners, 75 MacArthur Fellows and thousands of leaders across the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

A graduate degree in English is an ideal stepping stone to a host of personal and professional opportunities. Discover your path today!