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Cal Poly Pomona Named Top Producing Institution of Fulbright U.S. Scholars

Yong Xue Gan, Mohamed Gomaa, Ioana Mihaila, and Huseyin Ucar

Cal Poly Pomona has been recognized as a 2023-24 U.S. Fulbright Scholar Top Producing Institution for STEM Fields and a Top Producing Institution of U.S. Fulbright Scholars among master’s-granting universities. In addition, the university has the special distinction of having the highest number of U.S. Scholars in this classification this academic year.

The Fulbright U.S. Scholars program is an international academic exchange of scholars and professionals founded to increase mutual understanding and to support friendly relations between people from the United States and other countries. It is administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Fulbright Top Producer U.S. Scholar ProgramCal Poly Pomona’s four current U.S. Fulbright Scholars and their host institutions are:

“Our Fulbright Scholars champion a unified world, and Cal Poly Pomona is proud to help make their dreams a reality,” said President Soraya M. Coley. “These faculty members bring more compassion and understanding into our lives. There is no better way to unite people than through this kind of work.”

Gan, Gomaa, Mihaila and Ucar are all first-time U.S. Fulbright Scholars. Their projects span the fields of clean-energy generation and wastewater purification; the application of experimental psychology in negotiation strategy; mathematics education; and the design and discovery of magnetic materials with biomedical applications in cancer therapy. 

“My classrooms will certainly be more enriching thanks to my immersion in a new cultural context, and to establishing a stronger network of professionals from around the world,” Ucar said. “I will be able to leverage these connections to enrich my teaching materials, develop new curricula, and facilitate exchanges, thereby enhancing the global dimension of my classrooms.”

Forty-four Cal Poly Pomona faculty have participated in the scholar exchange program since the 1953-54 academic year, and the university has hosted 14 visiting Fulbright faculty from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. 

The 2023-24 Top Producing U.S. Colleges and Universities of Fulbright Students and Scholars list honored 52 institutions across five categories: doctoral; master’s; baccalaureate; associates; and special topics with subcategories of STEM fields, visual and performing arts, education, and medical and health sciences.

Mathematics and Statistics Professor Ioana Mihaila at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta (Indonesia)

Mihaila said she was specifically interested in a teaching award and wanted to placed in Asia. At Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, she will be teaching a problem-solving class geared at solving proposed problems from mathematics journals and preparing students for math competitions. The vast network of Fulbright alumni helped facilitate her placement in her host institution’s mathematics department.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Yong Xue Gan at the University of Regina (Canada)

An expert in energy sustainability and environmental sustainability, Gan said his research project, “Hydrothermal Carbonization of Biomass for Clean Energy Generation and Wastewater Purification,” is an integration of his teaching and research.

“This project will create opportunities for Cal Poly Pomona students to be involved into international research and education activities,” he said. “It will also foster the exchange of faculty members between Cal Poly Pomona and top Canadian Universities on sustainability research and education.  

Accounting Associate Professor Mohamed Gomaa at the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (Egypt)

For the past few years, Gomaa has been working on creating collaborative agreements between Cal Poly Pomona and Egyptian institutions such as Egypt-Japan University for Science and Technology (E-JUST).

Gomaa’s research project, “The Impact of Culture, Auditor Gender, Client Gender, and Auditor Negotiation Strategy on Negotiation Outcome,” employs experimental psychology to develop better negotiation training when clients and their auditors are opposite genders.

“Running the experiment both in Egypt and in the United States helps us see the influence of culture on the above factors,” he said. “There are various cultural differences between Egypt and the United States, including gender stereotypes, that affect perceived strength in negotiations. Egypt is currently focused on empowering women in society. The results of the study could highlight these issues and lead to better negotiation training in certain auditor-client gender scenarios. The study can also highlight how cultural differences can affect negotiations in multinational audit engagements.”

Chemical and Materials Engineering Associate Professor Huseyin Ucar at the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (United Arab Emirates)

Ucar’s project, “In Pursuit of Better Magnetic Materials: Addressing Data Scarcity Problems in Materials Informatics,” will involve design and discovery of magnetic materials with energy and biomedical applications through the development of robust machine-learning models that can be used to guide experimental materials researchers “in a data-driven manner rather than guesswork, hence speeding up the discovery of advanced magnets.” This work, he said, will impact clean-energy applications where permanent magnets, as well as magnetic refrigeration and cancer thermotherapy are concerned.

He added that through this experience he will be able to teach new courses in materials informatics, mentor undergraduate and graduate students, and “and contribute to the research in this field which are essential to advance my research and career.”