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Research Update: CoAS Professors with Fulbright Awards

March 05, 2019

We caught up with professors in the College of Arts and Sciences who recently won awards through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program. From Mexico to Montpellier, these four profs are taking their research and teaching abroad.


Elizabeth Burke Watson, PhD

Elizabeth Watson, PhD

Assistant Professor of Wetlands Science
Grant: Fulbright Research Award
Grant Term: 2019 fall term
Institution: Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada, Mexico
Project: Studying coastal habitat change in Baja California and mapping sediment carbon using remote sensing

A Closer Look at Seagrass Mapping:

“I will be based at a research center in northern Baja California, in Ensenada, and the project is focused on developing new approaches for seagrass mapping. There have been many new developments in remote sensing over the past five years — including the availability of daily satellite imagery, cloud-based computing (Google Earth Engine), and the proliferation of drones for environmental research — as well as a paradigm shift in processing methods. I will be working under a senior scientist who focuses on remote sensing, with the goal of combining our areas of expertise to develop efficient and accurate seagrass mapping methods.”

A lagoon at Bahía de San Quintín, Baja California, where Elizabeth Watson, PhD, will conduct research.

Why Mexico:

“Conducting research in Baja California is an amazing opportunity, as the ecosystems are pristine compared to the coastal estuaries and lagoons in the continental United States. I also hope to bring this experience to my Drexel students, such as by offering an Intensive Course Abroad in Baja California, developing a global classroom arrangement, or some sort of intensive research experience supported by external grants. México is our close neighbor, and I think it is important for U.S.-based university students to learn more about this country — culturally, scientifically and linguistically — as part of supporting a more globally infused worldview.”

Insider Tip:

“The food in Baja California is really quite amazing, especially if you are a fan of seafood, and I highly encourage a visit!”


Abioseh Porter, Professor of English, Department of English and Philosophy, Drexel University

Abioseh Michael Porter, PhD

Professor of English
Grant: Fulbright Research Award
Grant Term: 2019-2020 academic year
Institution: Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France
Project: Completing a critical life-and-works study of the Beninois novelist Olympe Bhêly-Quénum
Project Title: “Olympe Bhêly-Quénum and the Cultures of the Two Worlds He Knows: Benin and France”

A Beninois Biography:

“With the Fulbright fellowship, I plan to write a critical biography of the Beninois-French writer Olympe Bhêly-Quénum. My proposed monograph, based on years of reading the works of this author and speaking to him, will show how this thoroughly knowledgeable man, schooled in Ancient Greek and Latin cultures as well as Fon (Beninois) and Yoruba cultures, can be instrumental in providing additional cultural forms of education for readers in France and North America on the one hand, as well as for Africans on the other.”

Why Olympe Bhêly-Quénum:

“His fictional representation of the various problems and issues Africans face on the personal, national and continental levels, both at home and abroad, provides a range and sweep that will be useful for all students of West African (especially Beninois) culture. An exploration of Bhêly-Quénum’s literary life will allow readers to see how this deeply spiritual person has been exploring, quite adroitly, the implications of alterity, existentialism, classism, racism, misogyny, religiosity, etc., in the creation and sustenance of evil in a world that seems to have been severed from even its most recent past.”

A Deep Dive into the Archives:

“Using the vast resources of libraries such as the Sorbonne Reading Room, Bibliothèque François Mittérand, and those at Universities in Montpelier and Aix-en-Provence, as well as complete access to the author’s manuscripts and archives, I hope to show Mr. Bhêly-Quénum’s ability to construct anew, or at least modify, the European, American and African landscapes inhabited by Africans or people of African descent. Finally, my project aims to show ways in which the Beninois-French author seems to narrate into existence new and exciting worlds in which he not only names different locations, but also shapes the geography and topography of those sites, as well as the religion and discourse of his characters.”


Karen Nulton

Karen Nulton, PhD

Associate Teaching Professor of English
Grant: Fulbright Specialist Award
Grant Term: 2018-2019 winter term
Institution: Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
Project: Studied the assessment of communications skills in work-integrated learning


A Fulfilling Fulbright:

“My Fulbright to South Africa was everything I could have requested. I got the chance to work with the Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning at Cape Peninsula University (CPUT) in Cape Town. I helped my colleagues aggregate data from reflective analyses that students and employers write to provide a unique lens into the experiences of students and employers. I was able to host two full-day workshops on reflective writing and assessment, helping CPUT faculty explore how best practices for assessment can also be best practices for teaching and learning.”

New Perspectives on Learning:

“South Africa requires work-integrated learning as part of their post-secondary curriculum, so they have fully thought through how to integrate learning in the workplace and learning in the classroom. They also have a clear focus on keeping industry's input as part of curricular decision-making, and I will be bringing some of their best practices back to Drexel. All in all, this was an incredibly rewarding and valuable experience that I am grateful Drexel helped make possible.”

Joel Oestreich

Joel Oestreich, PhD

Professor of Global Studies and Politics
Grant: Fulbright Research and Teaching Award 
Grant term: October 2018 – January 2019
Institution: University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
Project: Taught foreign policy at the University of Abomey-Calavi to graduate students in the College of Law and Administration and conducted research into issues of corruption and reproductive rights with development agencies in the capital of Cotonou.

For support with faculty Fulbright applications, visit the Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad, or contact Adam Zahn, associate director of global engagement in the Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad, at