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‘ThanksforGiving to AU research’ recognizes visiting scholars, postdocs

‘ThanksforGiving to AU research’ recognizes visiting scholars, postdocs

By Olivia Wilkes

The College of Agriculture held its inaugural “ThanksforGiving to AU research” breakfast on Nov. 20 to recognize visiting scholars and postdoctoral researchers and their contributions to the college.

The college’s Office of Global Programs organized the event, which drew 25 attendees.

“It’s to show them that we appreciate them, their efforts, their dedication and their time and to let them be recognized by the leadership, by the administrators in the college, our dean, our associate deans and also by the university,” said Kelly Pippin, Global Programs support specialist.

Visiting scholars and postdoc researchers from other countries and across the U.S. typically come to Auburn for short-term stints. Hosted and mentored by College of Agriculture faculty, they contribute to ongoing projects in Alabama, much of which is through the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, as well as the research Auburn does in the U.S. and abroad.

“We appreciate what the Auburn hosts and mentors do and their willingness to engage in international work,” said Pippin.

Bill Daniels, acting director of Global Programs, said there is a misconception that international visiting scholars and postdoc researchers come to the university to gain knowledge and information but don’t contribute anything in return.

“One of the things I want to bring out with this is that they are contributing to the research that is benefiting our state of Alabama, our stakeholders in Alabama,” Daniels said.

These individuals typically come to Auburn funded by their home institutions, he said, and, once here, win grants, contribute data and write parts of proposals that help Auburn research.

“We want our stakeholders to know that the internationals that come here are contributing to answering the questions and addressing issues they have, whether it’s crop diseases, animal husbandry—whatever it is that we do domestically, they’re contributing to that.”

Pippin said the breakfast was well-received, with participants telling her they appreciated “the opportunity to get out of their lab or office to interact and socialize with other scientists, other researchers.”

The office plans to make the ThanksforGiving breakfast a yearly tradition and hopes to offer more activities and events for visiting researchers throughout the year.

“We like to do events like this or programming like this to give them a good experience and let them kind of carry the spirit back home,” Pippin said.

That could encourage more visiting scholars and postdocs to come to the College of Agriculture at Auburn.

“It’s really a mutually beneficial thing, and we want this type of exchange to be expanded in this college,” Pippin said.

Margaret Smith