published December 31, 1969

SENCER E-Newsletter, June 2005, Volume 4, Issue 10

SENCER Students and Faculty Working Hard with Georgian Colleagues

By: Ardith Maney, Iowa State University

Soon after six U.S. undergraduate students stepped off the plane from Amsterdam at Tbilisi airport on May 13 and were greeted by colleagues from Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi State University, and the Medical State University, they started working on research projects at SENCER's three Georgian partner universities. Alison Lima and Shane McCarty have been "doing rounds" in departments and faculties at the State University. Engineering students Kyle Riley and Mark Holzer are working on water supply and safety projects at Georgian Technical University and some Tbilisi companies where their Georgian student colleagues have internships. Meanwhile Jessica Russell and Annie Peppler, who have majors at their home university in exercise science and animal science, have gotten first-hand experience in labs at Tbilisi State University.

Their work has also overlapped with that of three visiting professors from the U.S. partner universities; Steve Freeman from Iowa State University's Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department; Dave Tauck, chair of the Biology department at Santa Clara University; and Mike Allar, an assistant professor at Harrisburg University whose specialty is biotechnology. The U.S. faculty partners consulted with Georgian counterparts on research and professional collaboration projects with their respective universities and participated in seminars organized by the SENCER-GE teams which attended the Summer Institute in 2004.

Freeman's professional seminar was presented to GTU's Hydro-Engineeering Faculty. In addition he participated in a seminar for the GTU Teaching and Learning Center, along with SENCER's Ardith Maney, organized by the TLC director, Giorgi Chighladze. Karen Oates participated in the seminar organized by the Medical State University's Teaching and Learning Center director, Nani Eristavi, on May 23, and Tbilisi State University's Butsiko Chkartishvili, on May 24. These seminars, work on new courses, and other teaching center activities accomplished during this past year were also assisted by the three SENCER-GE facilitators, Nana Japaridze, Ia Zhvania, and Lali Ghogheliani.

During our program, Ghogheliani and Chkartishvili also helped the SENCER-GE project disseminate new course materials and teaching methods in some unexpected and intriguing directions. Butsiko, who also teaches at the State University and also in one of the leading Tbilisi high schools, has adapted some of the SENCER-GE course materials in order to connect high school students to "new civic engagements and responsibilities." On May 26, she welcomed Maney, Oates, and Ghogheliani to this school to participate in presentations by her students about health and environment concerns - for example, smoking and health, effects of toxic metals, pollution from traffic, TB, etc. - which present challenges for public health in Georgia today.

In a second step, Ghogheliani will lead a group including Maney, the American students and their Georgian university student colleagues, to a nearby rural region on May 28 where students at a high school in Sagarejo have identified and documented problems, such as drug abuse, HIV-AIDS, air pollution, and other concerns as a result of seminars presented to local high school science teachers by members of the SENCER-GE team.

Everyone on the American side appreciates the willingness of our Georgian colleagues to work with us on our professional projects and to host us in their beautiful country. We look forward to making presentations with our Georgian colleagues about these educational and research collaborations at SSI'05 and will use the opportunity of the visits by the Georgian teams to the SENCER Summer Institute in August in San Jose and the residencies of the Georgian teams on the Harrisburg, Iowa State and Santa Clara campuses after the Institute ends to carry out further activities in our respective partnerships. Colleges and universities participating in the SSI 2005 - including both US and international teams - are invited to write to Ardith Maney (amaney@iastate.edu) for information about developing a SENCER international collaboration. We also urge you to participate in our international activities listed in the SENCER SSI 2005 program.