It had been six years since the launch of the International Fulbright Science & Technology Award and we, as fellows, were sitting in a hotel lobby in Washington, DC. We’d spoken over dinner the previous night of how slick it might be to have a forum where we could write about our science with the freedom to focus only on the big picture. We worked numbers and wrote journal articles by day, but if we could share, with the public, our ideas in a way that changed how they saw the world – that, we thought, would be the ultimate presentation of our research.
We are Ronan and André, S&T Fulbrighters from the 2010 cohort. Ronan comes from Ireland and is doing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at MIT, focusing on desalination. André comes from Brazil and is doing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford, focusing on computer vision.
The Fulbright experience has led us to many parts of the United States — California, Colorado, Florida, DC, Pennsylvania, Louisiana — exposing us to the spectacular diversity this country is made of. The best part of all is the chance to interact with locals, understanding the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives. We remember vividly the efforts of scientists in New Orleans to avoid future situations like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example.