February 20, 2023

Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics Radha Pyati Returns from Fulbright to Vietnam

radha1A well-respected researcher, scholar, chemist, and advocate for all things STEM, West Chester University Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics Radha Pyati had one item on her academic bucket list that she always wanted to pursue — a Fulbright. Yearning transformed into reality when Pyati received word from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Scholarship Board that she had been awarded a coveted Fulbright Specialist grant to Vietnam from December 7 through January 5, 2023.

Pyati was one of more than 400 US citizens selected for the prestigious award this year. Recipients of Fulbright Specialist awards are selected based on academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

“I was beyond excited at the thought that I had been awarded a Fulbright and would be on my way to Vietnam,” said Pyati, who was awarded the six-week, short-term grant to share chemistry education expertise with the students, faculty and staff at The University of Danang – University of Science and Education.

Engaging, immersing, learning, and sharing were key objectives throughout her grant. Pyati did so from the moment she landed in Vietnam and stepped foot on the campus. At the University, she met with chemistry department faculty; gave lectures to groups of up to 70 students at one time; presented to an audience of 100 faculty and students; toured laboratories in chemistry, biology and physics; and more. During one lecture she spoke with students and faculty about their primary interests — applying for scholarships in the U.S., electrochemistry of platinum phenylacetylides, the path that led to her own career, as well as life at West Chester University. She also shared information about current frameworks in chemistry education and K-12 education, research connections, laboratory safety culture, academic administration, as well as program and university accreditation.

radha2“I spoke a lot about West Chester University,” she said. “Thanks to our Graduate Admissions office, I was even able to give the students lots of swag — pens, notebooks, etc.”

Google Translate became her best friend when she answered students’ questions. “I would pull out my cell, access Google Translate, speak into the phone, and my response was instantly translated into Vietnamese for all to hear. Heads would nod enthusiastically, and I could see that it worked. I used it while riding taxis, too.”

As an inclusive cultural experience, many Fulbright grants provide unique opportunities for the entire family to become immersed in another country’s culture. The Pyati family found this to be especially true. While Pyati was on campus, her husband and two daughters, ages 16 and 10, took Vietnamese language lessons and explored the country.

“My family had an absolutely great time,” she said. “They would leave me at a local bakery to do some work and they would go off to their lesson. We became regulars and the staff got to know us quickly.”

The family also visited three UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as a traditional craft village in the countryside where they learned how to make handmade paper flowers.

Dedicated to providing a transformational experience, a Fulbright grant is designed to link a host institution with a U.S. institution, and vice versa, through a long-lasting partnership where students and faculty visit each other’s campuses.

Pyati is just beginning to think of the ways that she can help recruit students in sciences and math from The University of Danang – University of Science and Education to study at West Chester, as well as connect her new colleagues with research collaborators, academic programs and professional opportunities in the U.S.

radha3“My Fulbright experience was beyond my wildest expectations,” Pyati shared. “My sixteen-year old daughter has even asked when ‘our’ next Fulbright will be,” shared Pyati.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 400,000 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. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Back to top of page.