Twice in a Lifetime Opportunity

An appointment with the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, has long been considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the nation’s best researchers. However, one Fulbright scholar, Rajinder Koul, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, professor and chair of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and associate dean of research for the School of Allied health Sciences, will be going to Pretoria, South Africa in July for his second appointment and knows well how important the program is for international collaboration in health care.

“My goal is to strengthen and further foster the relationship between TTUHSC and the University of Pretoria, South Africa,” said Koul. “Specifically, I am looking to develop research programs between the University of Pretoria and TTUHSC that have potential to result in peer-reviewed publications and research grant submissions to funding agencies in South Africa and the United States.”

During the 35-day assignment, which will begin in July, Koul will work one-on-one with speech, language and hearing sciences graduate students on their research and provide feedback on their dissertations pertaining to developmental and acquired impairments such as aphasia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.

“I will develop this by conducting seminars, meeting with doctoral students and providing dissertation feedback, consulting with administrators and faculty and reviewing core curriculum,” Koul said.

Koul’s has pursued two primary lines of research at the TTUHSC School of Allied Health Sciences, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences department. He hopes to share his research with University of Pretoria faculty and students.

“One line of research investigated intervention in persons with chronic, severe aphasia and the variables that influence outcomes of such intervention,” Koul said. “The other focuses on understanding factors that influence symbol learning in persons with developmental disabilities. I will be sharing both lines of research with faculty and doctoral students at the University of Pretoria in hopes this will lead to collaborative research projects and grant applications.”

Koul believes that collaboration through the Fulbright program will benefit speech, language and hearing sciences graduate students at the University of Pretoria as well as their future patients.

“It is critical that South Africans with little or no functional speech become competent and empowered communicators,” Koul said. “In order to do so, they may need greater access to expertise and technology from academic and research institutions in the United States.”

This type of collaboration is completely relevant to the Fulbright Program’s founding expectation, “to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.”

In the interest of promoting compassion, peace and understanding, few elements are as important as communication, making Koul, who has dedicated his life to improving communication ability of people worldwide, a natural partner in this mission.

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