To get a Fulbright research scholarship is easier than he anticipated, says North-West University (NWU) academic Dr George van Zijl, who recently returned from a research visit to the University of Florida in the United States of America (USA).
This scholarship provides South African university faculty or research professionals to conduct research in their field of expertise at a US academic or research institution for a period of three to nine months.
“The Fulbright scholarship system promotes equality between universities. These grants enable scholars to perform high-level research at a US institution, which in turn strengthen academic programmes at his or her home institution,” explains Dr Van Zijl, a senior lecturer in Agriculture.
Dr Van Zijl says when applying, a decent proposal is key. From his experience, he says it is important to show that the proposal is sound, how it will contribute to the South African development goals, and why the visit should be conducted at a US institution as opposed to other parts of the world.
“Also, your proposal does not have to be a research proposal, it could also be teaching based, as mine was,” he adds.
He wanted to learn how to teach precision agriculture, a module he is currently designing to be taught for the first time at the NWU in 2022, and which no university in South Africa is currently offering.
Prof Van Zijl says he contacted Prof Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee from the University of Florida’s Agricultural and Biological Engineering department to arrange for a potential visit even before submitting his proposal.
“This is not required, but I do believe that arranging a host for the visit does give an advantage at the application stage, as it shows that you are invested in the visit.”
Dr George van Zijl was recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study precision agriculture at the University of Florida in the USA.