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Three UT Knoxville faculty members are Fulbright Scholars for the 2018–19 academic year.

The Fulbright Program is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. About 1,200 US scholars receive awards each year. College and university faculty and administrators, as well as professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, independent scholars, and others, are eligible.

UT Knoxville’s Fulbright Scholars are:

Seong-Hoon Cho, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, was a lecturer and researcher at Korea University in Seoul from July to December 2018. His project was “Payments for Forest Carbon Storage that Optimize Risk-Reward Trade-Offs under Climate Uncertainty in South Korea.”

Seong-Hoon Cho“We are trying to see how to use incentive payments to forest landowners so they will keep their lands as they are to sustain forest-based carbon storage,” he said. He studied which forested areas would be most crucial to keep in focus of carbon cost efficiencies and mitigation of climate risk in the future.

Although Cho was born and raised in Korea, it has been rare for him to have the chance to return for an extended period of time since leaving 28 years ago.

Having the opportunity to teach, research, and advise students in Korea on a daily basis for six months helped him better understand Korean academia and society. The experience also gave him the chance to reunite with family and friends during his off time.

“The most valuable aspect of my Fulbright residency has been broadening my professional network in Korea as well as its neighboring countries such as Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It was rewarding to engage with an international audience with whom I have never had such opportunities to connect previously,” he said.

Denita Hadziabdic Guerry, EPPUT fungal and population geneticist Denita Hadziabdic Guerry from the Herbert College of Agriculture was at the University of Ghana in the city of Accra in Ghana, Africa, until early this month doing research on improving the food supply. She and other scientists want to see if the frafra potato—a popular home garden crop from the mint family that is high in calcium, iron, and micronutrients—can be cultivated as a commercial crop. Read more about Guerry here.

“My Fulbright experience in Ghana was transformational in every sense of that word—from professional networking and collaborative research opportunities to personal exploration of Ghana and its wonderful and welcoming people. I look forward to my second trip this year, and I am excited to see what opportunities this will present, not only for my research program and my department, but also for our and Ghanaian students who would like to work on preservation of biodiversity and food security related issues,” she said.

Steven Oberman, an adjunct professor in the College of Law since 1993, will be lecturing at the University of Latvia from February through July. He’ll be teaching about American trial advocacy skills and the constitutional rights of citizen accused of crimes. Aside from his affiliation with UT, Oberman is the founder and managing partner of Oberman & Rice Law and practices DUI defense law primarily in Knoxville and East Tennessee. He has represented more than 2,000 clients charged with DUI offenses throughout his career, and he regularly lectures to DUI attorneys across the country about criminal defense techniques.

Two visiting Fulbright Scholars from other countries are spending part of this academic year at UT:

Ondrej Novak, a PhD student in nuclear engineering from the Czech Technical University in Prague, is doing research in the Department of Nuclear Engineering.

Ondrej NovakHis research focuses on what happens during the short amount of time that control rods are inserted into a nuclear reactor when it’s being shut down for safety reasons.

UT and Czech Technical University have hosted research exchanges before; Novak was at UT three years ago.

“I like it here—the whole culture, experience thing,” he said, adding that UT is much more compact than his university, which has buildings spread all over Prague. “UT’s  campus is very nice, and the people are open to me.”

Wei Chee Wong, the head of biotechnology at the Advance Agriecological Research SDN BHD in Malaysia, is here doing research in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Wei Chee Wong

Wong is working in Hadziabdic-Guerry’s lab for three months. Her research will focus on population genetics and spatial distribution of fungal pathogen on palm oil – Ganoderma boninense.

Her work will help plant breeders, tissue culturists, and agronomists improve the efficiency of breeding selection and sustainability of palm oil production.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,