ASU urban climate professor recognized as Fulbright Specialist

By

David Rozul

Matei Georgescu, associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, is the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Specialist grant, an award sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which supports global collaborative research. 

The Fulbright Specialist Program pairs highly qualified U.S. academics and professionals with host institutions to engage in two- to six-week collaborative projects at host institutions around the world. 

By participating in the program, academics share their expertise, strengthen their home institutions by partnering with overseas counterparts, hone their skills, gain international experience and learn about other cultures while building capacity at their overseas host institutions. 

“This program affords you the opportunity to make global connections and forge scientific advancements with others that are distant from where you are,” said Georgescu, who is also an affiliate faculty member for ASU’s Urban Climate Research Center and a senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. “The intended focus here is to provide an initial opportunity to lay the foundation shortly after an in-person visit to the host institution.”

Georgescu's research aims to improve the understanding and characterization of distinct phenomena related to urbanization-induced landscape change. He focuses on identifying hydro-climatic and air quality impacts resulting from large-scale urbanization, as well as potential adaptation and mitigation strategies through climate modeling simulations. 

“This (recognition) is of personal value to me; it's important to have the opportunity to connect my work to others across the globe that could benefit from it,” Georgescu said. “Through Fulbright, you are able to get a sense for what the desired research need is outside of the United States and you can make personal connections with researchers across the globe that you wouldn't otherwise.” 

In spring 2020, Georgescu studied urban climate effects in Crete, Greece, as part of a separate Fulbright Scholar Grant he was awarded in 2019, but was forced to return back to the U.S. after just three weeks due to the pandemic. 

The Fulbright Specialist Program is tailoring its plans on a country-by-country basis to resume in-person exchanges for U.S. participants. The plans will take into consideration the varying degrees to which the pandemic is affecting countries and communities around the world.

As a selected candidate on the Fulbright Specialist roster, Georgescu is now among a pool of candidates who are eligible to be matched to a host institution project over the course of their roster tenure. Specialist projects are currently conducted in more than 150 countries.

“This is a very enriching opportunity. Everyone around the globe has a shared responsibility in dealing with the effects of climate change. This issue is top of mind for policymakers,” Georgescu said. "I hope COVID-19 is done soon so that we can get back to normal when assuming our Fulbright activities.”