March 31-April 6, 2000
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Judge, U.S. senator to receive Jefferson awards

Arata shares experiences as Fulbright in India
Fulbright fellow catches C-ville fever
Virginia Festival of the Book
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TOP NEWS
Sammih Temimi
Stephanie Gross
Sammih Temimi, a biologist from Jordan, is at U.Va. conducting agricultural research.

Fulbright fellow catches C-ville fever

By Dan Heuchert

Add Sammih Temimi's name to the long list of Charlottesville converts. He loves it here. Visiting from Jordan on a Fulbright Fellowship, he enjoys the beautiful countryside and the nearby lakes. The fall foliage was the most spectacular he had ever seen. He'll probably love the spring blooms, too.

And he raves about the people he's met. Last summer, before his family arrived, he was staying at the International Center on University Circle. Temimi and a man from Mali, both without vehicles, decided to walk to Barracks Road Shopping Center to buy groceries.

They walked down Rugby Road toward the University and, upon arriving at the University Avenue intersection, didn't know which way to turn. So they asked a passerby.

She started to give them directions, then said the walk was too long. She took them to her car and drove them to the shopping center, then waited for them to finish their shopping and drove them back to the International Center. She left her name and number and instructions to call if they needed anything else.

"If you ask someone a question in any other country, you might not get any answer," Temimi said.

He speaks with no small amount of credibility. This is the fifth country the 45-year-old biologist has graced as a visiting scholar, having previously done turns in England, India, Austria and Germany. His home base is the University of Jordan, in the capital city of Amman.

"It's not only the research I focus on," he said. "I also focus on how people interact. I like to interact with people."

His research focuses on plants -- specifically, bacteria that set up shop within plants and "fix" atmospheric nitrogen into a form that is useful to the plants, thus reducing the need for expensive and environmentally damaging chemically synthesized fertilizers.

"From a scientific standpoint, he brings new techniques and new expertise to the lab," said U.Va. biology professor Michael Timko.

Temimi is just one of many international researchers in Timko's Gilmer Hall lab, which also hosts Russians, Africans, Indians and Chinese. "It's a pretty amazing melting pot," said Timko, who attributes much of the foreign presence to the importance of agricultural research to developing nations.

The Fulbright program required Temimi to specify a host in his application. Timko's expertise in plant-parasite interaction, plus a recommendation from a mutual friend, attracted Temimi to the University.

"U.Va. is a university with high respect abroad," Temimi said. "Many people I know at home say the Charlottesville campus is one of the finest in the country. "...It's very nice, very pleasant here. It reminds me of England," he said. "It is very similar to the English countryside."

Central Virginia is not all that different from parts of Jordan, which includes mountainous regions, green areas, and seaside communities as well as the deserts that many people stereotypically associate with the Middle East, he said.

His nine-month fellowship began in September and ends in June, but Temimi hopes to stay a little longer. His wife and four children, ages 2 through 11, have adapted quite easily to the U.S. culture. The older three children attend Greer Elementary School and love it, he said.

He has encountered other Jordanians on Grounds, mostly students or faculty in the Middle Eastern language programs, but "we see each other not very frequently," Temimi said.

Before he and his family leave for home, he hopes to travel a little more than his work has allowed so far, he said.

For details on Fulbright fellowships, see http://www.iie.org/cies/

 


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