High-five: Faculty earn Fulbright honors

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Paul DuttonAlan LewMichael Falk
Nancy JohnsonAndrew Hicken
Faculty selected for the 2011-2012 Fulbright Scholar awards are, from left, Paul Dutton, Alan Lew, Michael Falk, Nancy Johnson and Andrew Hicken.

For the second year in three years, Northern Arizona University made the list of research institutions with the greatest number of faculty selected for Fulbright Scholar awards, alongside Columbia, Harvard and Boston University.

Five faculty members, the highest number of scholars ever selected from NAU in a single year, will participate in the U.S. State Department program that annually sends 1,100 American scholars to institutions around the world.

“This reflects on the outstanding scholars that are part of this university’s community,” said Harvey Charles, vice provost for International Education. “It also reflects on the commitment of our faculty to seek international teaching and research experiences which will help to advance the global learning initiative at NAU.”

Selected for the 2011-12 academic year are faculty members Paul Dutton, professor of history and executive director of the Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute at NAU; Alan Lew, professor of geography, planning and recreation; Michael Falk, professor of mathematics and statistics; Nancy Johnson, professor with the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability; and Andrew Hicken, former instructor with the School of Music.

Dutton will visit several institutions in France next year, including the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences and the National Institute of Demographic Studies in Paris. His research compares the creation and historical development of European and American notions of retirement in the 20th century, which he will publish in a new book.

“The book will examine how retirement, and the new conception of old age that goes with it, has influenced medicine and end-of-life health care,” Dutton said.

Lew will work with colleagues at the University of Technology Malaysia, where he plans to study coastal and island communities in the state of Terengganu, an area with a 95 percent Malay and Muslim population, and the state of Sabah, which is composed of 32 major ethnic groups.

“My research is a comparative study of how culture and ethnicity impact community resilience—how well a place is able to adjust to sudden major changes including natural disasters, climate change, economic disruptions and population shifts,” Lew said.

He said the experience and knowledge he gains will enhance his teaching of several community planning courses and his World Geography East class.

Falk will spend next spring at Dublin City University in Ireland, where he will research combinatorics and group theory—the mathematical study of discrete structures and the measuring of symmetry in geometry.

Falk said he is “always trying to learn new mathematics,” and the collaborative research will lead to new coursework for advanced undergraduate and graduate students based on the knowledge he gains from colleagues.

“I expect to return with many new ideas for undergraduate research projects,” Falk said.

Johnson will visit Prague to work with the Czech University of Life Sciences in the Czech Republic. She is a soil ecologist with an expertise in mycorrhizas, which are ubiquitous symbioses between soil fungi and plants that generally improve plant nutrition.

Along with her Czech host, Johnson will collaborate with scientists in Germany, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands to help develop management strategies to harness mycorrhizal benefits in agriculture, ecosystem management and restoration.

“Because mycorrhizal fungi are enormous, yet invisible, the results of these studies will provide knowledge about how carbon can be stored within the soil,” Johnson said.

Hicken, who earned the recognition for his work at NAU, will visit Indonesia University of Education in Bandung. His research will examine Indonesia’s national music, in particular the works of Ismail Marzuki, a famous composer and songwriter who wrote more than 200 songs including several with patriotic themes.

The full list of scholars is available online.