Temimi, a biologist from Jordan, is at U.Va. conducting agricultural
fellow catches C-ville fever
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.
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.
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.
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.
you ask someone a question in any other country, you might not
get any answer," Temimi said.
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
"It's not only the research I focus on," he said. "I
also focus on how people interact. I like to interact with people."
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
a scientific standpoint, he brings new techniques and new expertise
to the lab," said U.Va. biology professor Michael Timko.
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.
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."
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.
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.
he and his family leave for home, he hopes to travel a little
more than his work has allowed so far, he said.