My Fulbright grant in Austria at NAWI Graz (University Graz and Technical University Graz) was highly productive and enjoyable. Aside from teaching two new lectures, I am in the process of establishing a semester student exchange between my home institution and the Technical University in Graz. This exchange is specifically geared towards scientists and engineers, a group of students who typically do not partake in exchange programs.
I strongly believe that student exposure to the international aspect of science is crucial to their further development as scientists and citizens of the world. This is especially important considering the internationalization of research, and the highly collaborative aspect of the work. In addition, I initiated two new research projects, both with a significant impact on society: we are developing novel materials to obtain more efficient lithium ion batteries; in addition we are studying the mechanism of solid formation using techniques not available at my home institution.
These studies provide a critical step in the custom design of new catalysts and in gas separation, topics with significant relevance to carbon sequestration and in the design of more environmentally friendly chemical processes. Both research topics require the shared expertise of my research group at Syracuse University and the researchers at my Fulbright host institution, and already we have submitted a grant proposal to solicit additional funding for these projects, other solicitations are in preparation.
Karin Ruhlandt is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. She was at the University of Graz and the Technical University of Graz as a US Fulbright Scholar in 2013–14.