Fulbright scholarship fulfills a biology professor’s dreams


Randy Bergeron

Roldan Valverde, a professor of biology, recently became a Fullbright scholar. It has been a dream of his for many years to receive this distinction.

A university professor’s long-term dream recently came true. He became the recipient of a scholarship that will allow him to teach across the world and further his research on sea turtles.

Professor of Biology Roldán Valverde became a Fulbright scholar in February of this year.

According to Fulbright’s web page, it is the largest exchange program for students and faculty in the United States that provides opportunities to partake in teaching and research.

Valverde will be traveling to the Universidad de Las Palmas de La Gran Canaria in Spain to teach students about marine organisms.

Valverde elaborated on what his activities will consist of, other than teaching.

“I get to do research with colleagues to work at that university, and it’s going to be focused on Loggerhead sea turtles,” explained Valverde. “They have animals in captivity and some of those animals are starting to go through puberty, and the kinds of things that I do for research have a lot to do with that. We’re going to be able to follow the reproductive systems while they’re in captivity.”

Valverde’s dream of receiving a Fulbright scholarship was inspired by his experience with international students.

“This has been a long-term dream of mine because my family, I grew up being exposed to international students,” shared Valverde. “We hosted several international students when I was in high school and that awoken in me the passion for learning about other cultures, other languages, and that actually is what drove me to the United States.”

After he came to the United States, he decided to pursue his doctorate and become part of the international sea turtle society.

To receive the Fulbright scholarship, Valverde had to go through a year-long process of submitting applications and a project proposal. He started his application in the spring of 2019 and was rewarded this past January. He still has a list of things to do before traveling to Spain at the beginning of next year, such as obtaining a visa.

Valverde believes the program will offer him the opportunity to learn about students in Spain and bring back some of their teaching methods to his classes at the university. He is also looking forward to furthering his research.

“I will be able to have it by working with animals across the pond, basically understanding how loggerheads function in their environments on the coast of Africa,” said Valverde. “Those are things that I’m really excited about. I will be able to teach them how I run my assays and what uses I can put these assays to expand our knowledge of the animals.”

Valverde expressed gratitude for this opportunity.

“I am very excited and grateful about the opportunity of doing something that I’ve been wanting to do for so long,” described Valverde. “This is such a particular program that, even though for many years I couldn’t do it until the planets lined up, and they finally lined up for me, I wanted it for so many years. For instance, some of my students have applied for Fulbright, and for many years I wanted to have one, and I have a lot of things that finally came through for me, so I’m very, very excited for this opportunity.”