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Fulbright scholar pairs travel with alternative energy research

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Samir Nazir’s lifelong love of travel and exploration has led him to numerous corners of the world, visiting countries as diverse as Australia and Bangladesh. He also has a passion for alternative energy and has sought to promote the use of a wide variety of technologies that will reduce our global reliance on fossil fuel.

Nazir, a master’s student in RIT’s science, technology and public policy program, will soon get to combine both loves through the U.S. Department of State’s William J. Fulbright program. Beginning in March, he will spend a year as a student scholar with the National University of Singapore where he will assist in a project designed to analyze the economic and environmental benefits and costs of electric vehicles and their potential impact on Singapore’s transportation sector. 

“Through this work I hope to assist Singapore in diversifying the portfolio of energy sources powering vehicles in the face of expanding domestic demand and consumption,” Nazir says.

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946, is the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. Nazir is one of over a dozen RIT students who have received Fulbright grants during the past decade, traveling all over the world to conduct research in a wide variety of fields.

“The Fulbright program provides an incredible opportunity for students to apply the skills they have learned at RIT in real world settings,” adds Tynelle Stewart, director of RIT’s study abroad and fellowship programs. “It is also extremely selective and RIT’s record of placing one to two students a year is on a par with the nation’s largest research universities.”

Stewart notes that RIT’s focus on experiential learning and cooperative education along with its efforts to include many students in high-level research as freshmen and sophomores has assisted Fulbright applicants in standing out.

For example, Christie Ong, a recent graduate of RIT’s advertising and public relations program, conducted a study abroad in Italy in which she worked with several deaf services agencies assisting Italian children and their parents. She ultimately was able to return to the country last fall through a Fulbright in Deaf Studies to help create a support network for Italian parents who are new to raising deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

“There are resources in Italy, but many are sporadic,” Ong says. “I owe my success to my parents and everyone who was supportive of me receiving the best care available, so I hope to help other deaf and hard-of-hearing children receive the same opportunities.”

Stewart says the study abroad office is currently expanding its advising services to further assist students in investigating potential Fulbright opportunities and improving chances for acceptance into the program. The effort is part of the office’s overall intention to enhance RIT’s mission to expand global opportunities for students, faculty and staff. 

“The program, in addition to our study- abroad offerings, provides a range of opportunities for the RIT community,” she adds.