Prof. Meenach Selected for Fellowship in Israel

Masada, an ancient fortress in southern Israel’s Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea, will be one of the stops on the trip. Photo courtesy of JNF.

By Neil Nachbar

When URI Assistant Professor Samantha Meenach learned in September about an opportunity to apply for an 11-day fellowship this winter in Israel, she didn’t expect to actually get selected.

“I applied on a whim. I thought it was a total shot in the dark,” said Meenach, joint professor of chemical engineering and biomedical & pharmaceutical sciences.

As it turned out, she was one of 23 university professors in the United States who were chosen out of 100 applicants. An associate professor of psychology from Providence College was also selected. The remaining 21 professors will represent Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, Arizona State University, University of Florida, Liberty University, Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, Baylor University, St. Ambrose University, West Virginia State University, South Dakota State University, University of Texas-El Paso, and California State University-San Marcos.

The faculty fellowship program, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 9, is fully paid for by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Media Watch International. According to the two sponsoring organizations, the goal of the program is to develop collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs between faculty and students of universities in the United States and Israel.

“I’m looking forward to learning about their research and educational infrastructure,” said Meenach. “I hope to spend time with Israeli professors who work on similar research as I do, but also learn about some research areas that are outside of what I normally do.”

Meenach submitted a list of seven professors, from five universities, who she would like to meet while on the trip. The professors’ area of expertise include chemistry, life sciences, biomolecular science, pharmacy, and cell research & immunology.

This will be the first time that the program is taking place in the winter. Since 2008, the fellowship program has been offered in the summer.

The itinerary, which will keep the group busy from morning to night, will include tours and guest speakers representing different aspects of Israeli culture. A sample itinerary shows just how active the professors will be during their stay.

Meenach is hopeful that the experience will lead to opportunities down the road for URI faculty and students.

“The point of this program is to foster research collaboration between faculty in the U.S. and Israel,” stated Meenach. “In time, it would be great if we can establish a student exchange between URI and the universities in Israel.”