Engineering, Business Professors to Pursue Research in Europe, Asia and South America

Headshots of two men and one women
UML faculty members, from left, Spencer Ross, Sheree Pagsuyoin and M. Berk Talay have received Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards for the 2023-24 academic year.

By Ed Brennen

Between her research on wastewater-based epidemiology, her teaching and her role as graduate coordinator for the civil and environmental engineering doctoral program, Assoc. Prof. Sheree Pagsuyoin didn’t have a lot of time to think about applying for a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award.
“I finished my application literally five minutes before it was due,” says Pagsuyoin, who was “really lucky” to receive 11th-hour confirmation from institutions in Belgium and South Korea that they could host her as a Fulbright Scholar. 
It’s a good thing Pagsuyoin submitted her application in time: She is one of three UMass Lowell faculty members to receive Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards for the 2023-24 academic year, along with Prof. M. Berk Talay and Assoc. Prof. Spencer Ross, both marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation faculty members in the Manning School of Business.
“It’s such an honor to be part of the Fulbright group,” Pagsuyoin says. “I wasn’t expecting to receive the Fulbright, but I am very excited.”
Established in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program offers over 400 awards annually to U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research and carry out professional projects in more than 135 countries. Selected by the Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the awards support faculty with exemplary records of academic and professional achievement, service and leadership potential.
Since 1964, more than two dozen UML faculty members have received Fulbright awards to study in countries such as Armenia, Brazil, Greece, South Africa and Thailand. Seventeen international scholars, meanwhile, have come to UML through the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.
“It is great to be awarded for a project that I am very interested in and passionate about.” -MEI Prof. M. Berk Talay on Fulbright Award
Talay, an authority on the development and launch of new products and services, has been invited to the École Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales Business School in Cergy, France. He will study how luxury products can help foster sustainable innovations, especially in the automotive industry. Starting this year, for instance, all BMW and MINI models are being produced with completely vegan interiors, which generate 80% less carbon emissions when made compared to leather, Talay says.
“With brands like Renault, Peugeot and Citroën, France has a formidable auto industry,” says Talay, who will serve as a visiting professor in a research center established by Peugeot. “I am honored to be selected. It is great to be awarded for a project that I am very interested in and passionate about.”
Ross, an expert in digital marketing, social media branding and consumer engagement, will study coffee production and marketing in Colombia at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá.
“I've long been a coffee enthusiast as a consumer, identifying where my coffee comes from, who farmed it, how it was grown and how it tastes. As a scholar, though, I've never had the opportunity to marry that personal coffee expertise with my academic research in marketplace ethics and well-being,” Ross says.
With the Fulbright scholarship, he will have access to resources and people involved in the coffee industry in Colombia, one of the world's leading coffee producers.
Pagsuyoin, meanwhile, received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award, which will enable her to study the feasibility of analyzing wastewater to monitor drug use in the population in more than one country. In August, she will travel to Busan, South Korea, for one month; in January, she plans to spend three months in Manila, the Philippines; and next spring she will be in Antwerp, Belgium, for two months.
Pagsuyoin notes that European countries are most advanced when it comes to analyzing wastewater for indicators of diseases such as the coronavirus, while it is rarely done in Asian countries.
“Being able to see how they do it in Europe — the extent of how they progress toward implementing wastewater-based epidemiology for surveillance — I’d like to learn more about it and see how we can do something like that for Manila,” she says.
“Not only can my research benefit,” she adds, “but I can promote the graduate program here at UML as well.”
Chancellor Julie Chen says the selection of Pagsuyoin, Ross and Talay as Fulbright Scholars reflects the significance of their research and work as educators.
“The opportunities that come with these awards,” she says, “will allow them to grow their expertise in international settings, forge partnerships with scholars from across the globe and return to UMass Lowell to share their expanded knowledge with our students.”