Date: 2020-12-11

SDSU Project to “Support STEM Research and Graduate Education in Georgia” Underway

SDSU Distinguished Professor Dr. Walter Oechel has received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia for his project to “Support STEM Research and Graduate Education in Georgia.” The project has two main components, each dedicated to fostering modern approaches to STEM research in Georgia and creating opportunities for Georgian graduate students.

SDSU Georgia has supported this project from its inception, providing organizational support and facilities, in addition to fostering connections between the project’s organizer, Dr. Walter Oechel, and potential counterparts within our partner organizations. Millennium Foundation is also one of the close supporters of the project. The project is supported by the Tertiary Education Director of Millennium Foundation, Dr. Nodar Surguladze. Local logistical support at SDSU Georgia is provided by Ana Tonikiani.

The first part of the project is the creation of internships for Georgian Ph.D. students at San Diego State University in California, where they can conduct graduate research and studies under the guidance of an SDSU faculty mentor and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to conduct STEM research in a U.S. setting. These students will have access to state of the art equipment and benefit from learning new approaches and asking questions to their mentors.

Interested students will be invited to apply through an open, national competition for participation in both short term and long term graduate research positions at SDSU. The selection committee will be composed of both SDSU and Georgian faculty, who will rank the applicants. Final selections will be made by the mentoring faculty, choosing students based on the interests and backgrounds which align best with individual areas of research.

The other aspect of the project is a series of short courses held in Georgia. Currently, these courses are being offered via Zoom, with plans to host in-person lectures when the pandemic situation permits. These courses are conducted by SDSU home campus professors and STEM researchers. Each course covers a different aspect of modern, western approaches to research methodology, scientific writing, publishing, communication, use of scientific literature, preparation of modern bibliographic resources, and scientific publications and ethics.

The first of these courses occurred on October 27th. It was opened by Magda Magradze, CEO of the Millenium Foundation, Christopher Anderson, Cultural Attache of the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, Dr. Walter Oechel, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Halil Guven, Co-PI and Dean of SDSU Georgia.

The event consisted of two presentations. The first, “Scientific Writing for Publication in International ISI Journals,” was presented by Dr. John Crockett, Associate VP for Research and Advancement at SDSU. The second presentation, “Open-Source Data Sources and Building an International Network of Collaborators and Collaborations,” was hosted by Dr. Eric Frost, Co-Director of SDSU Graduate Program in Homeland Security (HSEC) and Director of SDSU Visualization Center.

SDSU Georgia lecturer Dr. Giorgi Jibuti attended the session and said the “webinar was informative, [we were] introduced to new prospects to publish our research. To impact graduate studies better, involving more graduate students [in future courses] will be good.”

The second course took place on December 9, 2020. It was opened by Magda Magradze, CEO of the Millennium Foundation, Christopher Anderson, Cultural Attache of the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, Dr. Walter Oechel, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Halil Guven, Co-PI and Dean of SDSU Georgia.

More than 170 researchers and academic staff attended the event, which consisted of two presentations. The first, “The U.S. System of Graduate Schools,” was hosted by Dr. Ed Balsdon, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies at SDSU, and the second, “Financial Aid at the Graduate Level,” was hosted by Dali Khomeriki, a consultant for EducationUSA.

The next lecture will be a three-part mini-series at the end of January covering some of the different options for STEM doctoral programs at SDSU’s main campus. Interested parties from Georgian universities are invited to join us in learning about some of the educational opportunities offered by SDSU. Next lectures will be taking place on:

  • January 27: SDSU Doctoral Programs in STEM - Sciences
  • January 28: SDSU Doctoral Programs in Computational Sciences and Engineering Science
  • January 29: SDSU Doctoral Programs in Education and Health-related fields