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Monday, Jul 15, 2019

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Unique program brings Saudi Arabian faculty to campus for research academy


An innovative summer program at Ohio University is now leading to new areas of research and collaboration for OHIO faculty members with a partner university in Saudi Arabia.

The summer program, the first Ohio Faculty Research Academy, brought faculty members from Princess Nourah University (PNU) to OHIO in August. While here, the faculty members worked with OHIO faculty and staff from the Patton College of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Business.

“This has been an amazing experience,” said Ola Abusukkar, assistant professor of special education and department chair at PNU. “It’s opening the gates for new ideas, research and education programs.”

Krisanna Machtmes, chair of educational studies in the Patton College of Education, said the program was also very beneficial for OHIO and will lead to new partnership programs with PNU.

“We feel very pleased and fortunate to be able to collaborate with these incredible faculty members,” Machtmes said. “We already have five or six research projects going.” In addition, faculty members from PNU will be visiting OHIO again in the future to serve as guest lecturers in the Patton College of Education.

Nazek Al Issa, associate professor of mathematics at PNU, focuses her research on the specific area of “fuzzy math” and has been widely published internationally. She was thankful for the opportunity to take part in the Research Academy and is now receiving advice and assistance from OHIO faculty members about getting published in top journals in the U.S.

Fatma Alshihri, assistant professor of English and translation at PNU, said that she was pleased to learn new ideas and new methodologies that she will be able to use in her classroom.

“We all fell in love with the place,” she said, adding that the PNU members enjoyed the campus and the small town atmosphere of Athens.

Maha Alharthi, assistant professor of applied linguistics at PNU, agreed.

“It’s a great place to learn,” she said. While at OHIO, the PNU faculty members were able to focus on their work. In addition, the people on campus and in the city were very friendly and helpful, she said.

Asmaa Alshuaifan, an assistant professor of English at PNU, added that the experience was also challenging as it involved a great deal of work in two weeks. She liked the OHIO faculty and campus a great deal and was thankful to be part of the Research Academy.

“The library is amazing,” she added.

Greg Kessler, associate professor of linguistics at OHIO and director of the Ohio Research Academy, said that after a successful first year for the program he is already planning on expanding the program for its second year.

“This program demonstrates OHIO’s excellence as a research institution,” Kessler said. “It provides OHIO research faculty with opportunities to guide others toward being better researchers. It also allows us the unique opportunity to share our expertise in the areas of research and reporting.”

This type of collaboration, he added, will also lead to additional international educational opportunities for students and faculty.

“I was very impressed with the program,” Kessler said. “The faculty from Saudi Arabia were excellent and our team did an amazing job. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the program.”

The OHIO faculty and staff members worked diligently on the program in order to make the initial Research Academy a success, Kessler said.

“I enjoyed the way that this team of OHIO representatives came together to support these exceptional women. I was very impressed with the commitment and dedication everyone demonstrated,” Kessler said.

One of the OHIO representatives who led the initiative was Areej Ahmed, Arabic instructor and coordinator at OHIO. Ahmed worked closely with the faculty members from PNU, who were very thankful for all of her hard work and assistance. Ahmed added that she and the other OHIO faculty and staff members who worked on the program also benefited a great deal from the experience. She looks forward to continuing to work with the PNU faculty members and with the Ohio Faculty Research Academy in the future.

For more information on the Ohio Faculty Research Academy, contact Greg Kessler at kessler@ohio.edu.

This article was provided by the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies.