Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement at UTSA

Global Impacts

Scholars Engage in International Endeavors

Throughout the years, UTSA has encouraged initiative in regard to its extensive international reach, whilst promulgating research, instruction and public service.

From Spain to South Korea and from Mexico to Malawi, faculties and students broaden their research endeavors, while exploring faraway places, local businesses expand their market share internationally and transnational concerns are illuminated.

Student researchers and faculty venture overseas to participate in mutually beneficial educational opportunities. Other explorations involve Fulbright scholars who visited other continents to extract information from ancient archives and faculties who evaluate the needs of other countries to provide instructional support. As a public service, UTSA offers its expertise to make commerce more profitable for local companies and businesses overseas.

Such opportunities are made possible through private, state, and federal funding which sponsor multiple programs benefiting student and faculty ventures. Furthermore, such pursuits contribute to the economic stability of the San Antonio region, the state of Texas, as well as support for global endeavors.

Texas, as well as support for global endeavors. Explore some of the research, instruction, and public service achievements that UTSA’s very own students and faculties have engaged in from an international outlook.

Student Scholarship Opportunities

Music Education for Increased Brain Development

Twin brothers Rustein and Travis Merriweather have long been interested in community improvement. The Merriweathers believed that it would be fitting to explore their musical talents further.“We look at being musical as being a public service,” Rustein said. “We wanted to take it a step further,” he continued.

The students were among 50 high school and university students invited to present research at Global Issues Network (GIN), held for the first time in Abu Dhabi. The GIN works with students from around the globe to create awareness about global issues through projects and activities.

According to the Merriweathers, one of the challenges they faced was to address a major concern for Abu Dhabi and offer a solution to the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).

The brothers revealed a link between music and brain development. Rustein affirms that earlier research showed keyboard and piano players use both sides of their brains simultaneously. Studies on this type of activity revealed significant brain development in children ages 5-7, including increased blood flow to the brain and physically larger brains. The brothers hypothesized that a strong music education would create more developed critical thinkers.

The Merriweathers believed the research could benefit Abu Dhabi, a country that relies heavily on the oil industry. Considering the impending oil depletion, Rustein said the country lacks a plan for the future.

The brothers proposed a one to two year trial on four groups of students to evaluate the results of a stronger emphasis on music education in schools. Researchers would test the students’ cognitive functions to determine the effect of increased music education.

“It’s about creating a generation of people who can find solutions to world problems,” Rustein stated.

Gilman Scholars Absorb New Culture

Aaron Arriaga and Gabriella Zundt
Aaron Arriaga and Gabriella Zundt

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program awarded several students from UTSA scholarships to travel overseas and broaden their university experience.

Aaron Arriaga and Gabriella Zundt traveled to China in the summer, as part of the University Studies Abroad Consortium. Both spent a month in Chengdu, China, at the Southwest University for Nationalities.

Arriaga, a Cold Spring, Texas native, earned a $2,500 Gilman scholarship to immerse himself into the Chinese culture while living with a Chinese family.

“My ultimate goal would be to eventually work on foreign policy/relations with China,” Arriaga said. He hopes the experience he receives will provide the background he needs in order to do so.

Like Arriaga, Zundt also wanted to glean the most benefit from her summer study abroad in China. Zundt, from Portland, Texas, received $4,000 to discover what a new culture could add to her double major in communication and psychology.

“I hope to bring back a better understanding of the world we live in and a new outlook on life,” Zundt stated.

Faculty Scholarship Opportunities

Extensive Research Earns Professor International Recognition

Dr. Sedef Doganer, assistant professor in the UTSA College of Architecture, earned the title of “docent” through the Council of Higher Education in Turkey after a rigorous review of her research, teaching and service work.

The docent designation is the first step above the Ph.D. in Europe. Albeit Doganer intends to continue teaching in the United States, she plans to give presentations and read papers at universities and conferences in Europe, where the docent title is widely recognized.

Earlier this year, Doganer traveled to London to present a heritage research project that she conducted at the historic missions in South San Antonio with some of her students at UTSA. The group explored and evaluated the potential the missions have to attract tourists and, in turn, create jobs and a sense of pride within the community.

Fulbright Scholarships Fund Research Overseas

UTSA faculty and one graduate student recently traveled the world as part of the Fulbright Program.

Nearly 300,000 scholars have participated in the Fulbright Program around the world. Last year, participants from UTSA studied music in Nigeria, architecture in Italy, opera in Hong Kong and Alzheimer’s disease in Chile.

One of the four Fulbright recipients was Aaron Carter-Cohn, who earned his master’s degree in music in conducting at UTSA in 2011.

Carter-Cohn will teach in Nigeria’s largest city at the University of Lagos and delve into the systematic organization of sounds in the languages of Nigerian music.

Wing Chung Ng
Dr. Wing Chung Ng

On another continent, Fulbright scholar Wing Chung Ng, associate professor of history at UTSA, took a closer look at the history of Cantonese opera to finish his book manuscript. His research focused on the development of this Southern Chinese performance genre in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Business documents such as contracts and loan documents were of particular interest to Ng. They tell the story of Cantonese opera as a popular entertainment industry in rural society and how the genre became urbanized.

“As a historian, I’m really interested in the internal dynamics of this performance,” Ng stated. “How were troupes formed and how did they adapt? What traditions were kept once they went into the cities?” Ng continued.

The owner of Tai Ping Theatre recently donated its archive, providing a deeper look into the business of Cantonese opera. Ng spent 10 months researching that story and is now talking with publishers about his manuscript. He hopes it will soon be translated so he can share his findings with the people of Hong Kong.

In Europe, while researching his book in 2003, John Alexander found letters between Cesare Gambara, the bishop of Tortona, and the Milanese Archbishop Carlo Borromeo.

According to Alexander, the two writers were at odds over a new cathedral planned in Tortona as part of a program of urban redevelopment and architectural projects that gave the city an ideal ecclesiastical center. Alexander discovered Bishop Gambara was adamantly opposed to the plans.

A Fulbright grant funded Alexander’s spring 2013 trip to search through the Italian state archives in Como, Milan and Rome, the Vatican archives and the archives of significant religious orders in hopes of finding more details.

George Perry
Dr. George Perry

George Perry, dean of the College of Sciences, traveled to South America on a research-sharing mission in Chile where he focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

Perry visited the University of Chile for two weeks to give seminars and advising its academic programs. He also became a consultant to a biotech company, offering advice about technology development, conducting clinical trials and entering the U.S. pharmaceutical market.

“Chile is a remarkable country – dynamic, safe, clean, organized. It’s an incredible country,”

Perry stated. “All students should be able to get one of these scholarships to go for a few months,” Perry stated.

Public Service Efforts

Growth of the Small Business Network of the Americas

In early 2012, President Obama launched the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA) to assist in job creation and economic growth. The SBNA links national networks of support centers, expanding the available resources and services for small businesses and encouraging international trade.

UTSA leads the way in increasing the network’s reach by establishing new Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the Caribbean and Latin America. Through SBNA, UTSA provides guidance to foreign governments to adapt and establish SBDCs in their countries, benefitting both local companies and businesses all over the Americas.

By expanding the SBDC network into other countries, UTSA creates trade partners around the world. With the support of the U.S. Department of State, the UTSA Institute for Economic Development helps countries create small business assistance programs and has already established such programs in 15 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa over the past 10 years.

UTSA also helps local clients expand into international markets through the International Trade Center. The center provides consulting, market research, and training so domestic companies can take their business worldwide.

The International Trade Center boasts numerous success stories, one of which is familiar to San Antonio. Michael Kiolbassa, the owner of Kiolbassa Provision Company, credits part of his business’ international success to the university’s SBDC. With its help, he secured an SBA 504 loan to modernize his manufacturing facility and widen his market.

Kiolbassa’a story adds to the accomplishments of UTSA’s pursuits in research, instruction and public service.

Sherrie Voss Matthews and Monica Alcoz contributed to this story.

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