Afzal Siddiqui, 2012-13 Fulbright-Nehru Teaching/Research Program, shares his Fellowship experience!

My Fulbright Experience in Aligarh, India

Afzal A. Siddiqui, PhD

Grover E Murray Distinguished Professor
Texas Tech School of Medicine, Lubbock, Texas
Host Institution: Aligarh University, Aligarh India

I went back to my Alma Mater, Aligarh University after over 30 years to spend 6 months to teach and perform research. This turned out to be the most productive and rewarding experience of my life. So much has changed in the years I have been away from India. There is now a tremendous amount of Western influence in every walk of life which was not there when I left India in 1982. The benefits of free-market economy can be seen all over India – indeed this great country is definitely on the path of a tremendous growth and development. This has also resulted in the expansion of academic institutions, many of these are now privately owned. Several of these I visited and gave seminars and was impressed by the outstanding talent available in these Universities.

My host institution has a top notch faculty specializing in a very important area of research, parasitology. The research they are carrying out is very relevant to India. They are developing newer and more sensitive methods to diagnose parasitic infections which cause high mortality and morbidity both in humans and animals. These faculty members also excel in teaching and are brilliant teachers - still doing it the old fashion way with a chalk and a blackboard. I found students to be attentive and dedicated. Students still stand up when the professor walks into a classroom to show their respect.

On the administrative front, USIEF staff is extraordinarily efficient, friendly and helpful. USIEF is headed by Adam Grotsky, a brilliant pragmatic leader who has expanded the Fulbright program in a very constructive manner. Diya, Vinita and Bharathi’s organizational skills are stellar and they are always there to find a way for things to work smoothly for the visiting Fulbrighters. The impact of their hard work with the Fulbright program can be seen in so many areas and this continues to influence academia in India in a positive manner.

Overall, a great experience for me both personally and professionally. I strongly recommend scientists from the United States to pursue this excellent program at least once in their life time. I would welcome anyone to contact me if they require any additional information before applying to this program.