Last week of term and Fulbright

This week was pretty crazy; as well as the last day of the teaching semester in our college, Friday marked the deadline for Ireland-US Fulbright fellowship applications.

All week, I’ve been giving wrap-up lectures in my courses to nervous students, not to mention pep-talks on revision and exam techniques to first years. Next week, the latter will face their first exam after only 12 weeks in third level. This is the downside of modularisation: for students newly arrived in college, that first semester goes very quickly and many of them will falter at the first fence.

At the same time, I myself have been busy with an application for a Fulbright fellowship. This seems to be a very enlightened program, offering academics around the world the chance to take a year out to spend time on a research project at a US institution. In my case, I have applied to spend some time at the BEYOND Centre of Arizona State University. I’ve been working on a book on big bang cosmology aimed at the public for some time now and the fellowship could offer the opportunity to take time out from fulltime teaching to concentrate on the book in a really stimulating environment.  The application process is quite rigourous – I don’t think I would have managed it in time for the deadline without help from our college research office!

The BEYOND Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU is a really interesting research centre where foundational research in cosmology is combined with a philosophical approach to the subject. In addition, they have a strong activity in public outreach. Indeed, the centre boasts staff like Paul Davies and Lawrence Krauss, both well-known science writers as well as renowned physicists.  In addition, the centre is located close to several world-famous observatories. I’m not sure there’s a centre anything like BEYOND anywhere in Europe, never mind in Ireland.

Of course, the competition for the fellowships will be stiff as they are very prestigious, so fingers crossed..

President Clinton presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Senator  J.William Fulbright

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