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Georgia Southern University biology professor named Fulbright Scholar

Georgia Southern University Department of Biology associate professor Michelle Zjhra has been named a Fulbright Scholar by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Winners of the award are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Through the grant, Zjhra will lead workshops on curriculum and faculty development, emphasizing plant sustainability issues at the Vietnam National University in Saigon during the 2007-2008 academic year.

In addition, she will build scientific collaborations with Vietnamese faculty and students, train and mentor new botanical experts, and provide technical expertise in herbarium curation and restoration of historical collections.

Zjhra is one of approximately 800 faculty and professionals from the U.S. who will travel abroad through the Fulbright Scholar Program during the current academic year. Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late senator J. William Fulbright from Arkansas, the program seeks to build mutual understanding between the people of America and the rest of the world.

‘Investing in education is a win-win situation,” Zjhra said. ‘My Vietnamese colleagues will gain additional tools to train others and have a greater capacity to describe, document, investigate and determine how to coexist with their incredible natural resources.

‘At the same time, I will gain experience and new insights through my interactions with faculty, students, park personnel and others. I hope to sustain these relationships through the development of collaborative research.”

A member of Georgia Southern University’s faculty since 2003, Dr. Zjhra teaches courses on general biology, plant diversity and flora of Georgia, and she serves as director of the University herbarium. Her research interests include the ecological, evolutionary and developmental aspects of plant diversity.

Zjhra will leave for Vietnam in January and return to Statesboro in June.

In addition to her duties at Georgia Southern, Zjhra has served as a research associate for the Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation at the Antioch New England Institute in New Hampshire since 2001. Prior to joining Georgia Southern University, she taught at Keene State College, conducted research at the University of Arizona, and worked at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Zjhra earned B.A. in biology from Reed College and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Wisconsin.

Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, offers more than 120 degree programs serving nearly 17,000 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. The University, one of Georgia’s largest, is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars and is recognized for its student-centered approach to education.

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