WASHINGTON, D.C.–Dr. Kevin McCartney of the University of Maine at Presque Isle has been offered a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant to Poland to continue his research in the field of micropaleontology, the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced recently.
McCartney—the first Fulbright Scholar in northern Maine’s history—is one of 1,200 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2016-2017 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership in their fields.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. The Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.
McCartney’s Fulbright research will occur in Szczecin, Poland (population 400,000), located in the northwestern corner of the country. Based at the University of Szczecin, the research trip will extend over eight months, from September 2016 through early May 2017. McCartney has undertaken two three-month-long research visits to the country previously, in 2012 and 2014. His Fulbright award will enable him to engage in larger projects, develop a better knowledge of Poland, and conduct talks at universities throughout the country.
McCartney’s research focus over the last 30 years has been on a somewhat important but largely understudied group of single-celled, ocean-dwelling plants known as silicoflagellates. His work covers the entire geologic range of the group and includes studies from all the world’s oceans. He has described five silicoflagellate genera and more than 20 species. Most of his specimens were fossils found in drill cores recovered from the ocean depths. He has about 50 micropaleontology papers in international journals and proceedings, which include nine papers that have been co-authored by UMPI students.
McCartney’s road to the Fulbright actually began during his 2012 sabbatical to the University of Szczecin. A biology professor there who had herself been a Fulbright Scholar attending an American school asked him if he would consider applying for a Fulbright in order to return to Szczecin. After learning more from several other Polish “Fulbrighters,” he made the decision to apply. His application, submitted in the summer of 2015, was the product of three years of work.
McCartney’s chief colleague at the University of Szczecin is Dr. Jakub Witkowski, an Assistant Professor in the Geology and Paleogeography Department; the two have co-authored 14 papers. Dr. Witkowski studies diatoms, an important group of single-celled microscopic plants that live in oceans and freshwater lakes. Together, the two will focus on an Eocene study of silicoflagellates and diatoms from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and continue their research on Cretaceous sediments with new sample material. McCartney will also tackle a third major study—examining sediments from around the world to work on a significant paper on silicoflagellate evolution.
Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and many other fields. Fifty-three Fulbright alumni from 12 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 85 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes, 29 have received MacArthur Foundation Awards, and 16 are U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. Prominent Fulbright alumni include: Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia; John Hope Franklin, noted American historian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; Riccardo Giacconi, physicist and 2002 Nobel Laureate; Amar Gopal Bose, founder, Bose Corporation; Renée Fleming, soprano; Jonathan Franzen, writer; and Daniel Libeskind, architect.
For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright or contact ECA Press at 202-632-6445 or email ECA-Press@state.gov.