Date: May 16, 2013
To Prof. Gangopadhyay, research in the Bay of Bengal is a chance to chart one of the world's least-studied oceans - and one which directly affects a billion people living on its shores. The knowledge and experience he will gain during his time in India will be brought back to UMass Dartmouth to be shared with his students, faculty colleagues and the greater community.
Prof. Gangopadhyay, who teaches at SMAST (the School for Marine Science and Technology) is a renowned figure in oceanography for his work on modeling western boundary currents from the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic and the Brazil Current in the South Atlantic to the Kuroshio along the Japanese coast, and as a leader in the development of a widely recognized and unique approach to current modeling, Feature Oriented Regional Modeling Systems (FORMS) - a tool he will use in his research and teach to graduate students and professors alike in India.
"I am eagerly looking forward to teaching and researching in India over the next year," said Prof. Gangopadhyay. "I thank the Fulbright Commission for giving me this opportunity, which is going to greatly accelerate the pace of our efforts to create new relationships between UMass Dartmouth, SMAST and our colleagues in India and the US, as well as to understand the Bay of Bengal better than ever before."
Prof. Gangopadhyay will teach a course on Ocean Circulation and Modeling - which he developed at SMAST - to graduate students at the Indian Institutes of Technology at Bhubaneswar and Kharagpur, where he holds the Ministry of Earth Sciences Chair Professorship.
Prof. Gangopadhyay will also be kicking off an intensive, two-year pilot program that he designed with Indian and American colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MIT, URI and Rutgers as part of an intensive project researching the currents in the Bay.
The project will bring together virtually the entire oceanographic community in India, with scientists from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa, the National Institute of Ocean Technology and the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Service.
"Avijit's work is the perfect example of the world-class research that goes on everyday at UMass Dartmouth," said Chancellor Divina Grossman. "This Fulbright grant reflects his stature in his field, and I congratulate him on behalf of the entire University community."
"Prof. Gangopadhyay is greatly respected within the School and among his peers, and his work combines novel research with practical applications," said Dr. Steven Lohrenz, Dean of SMAST. "His modeling techniques contribute to better understanding of issues ranging from fisheries and weather forecasting to climate change, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he discovers about the Bay of Bengal."
At the same time, Gangopadhyay points out that while India excels in many scientific fields, it lags other nations in ocean science: for example, India has just one institute of oceanography, compared to 20 in the US, 15 in China, 10 in Japan and eight in Brazil.
The Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences says that India needs to quadruple the number of ocean scientists working in the country - an investment in human capital that Gangopadhyay has already played an outsize role in making.
In the past decade alone, Professor Gangopadhyay helped to build the Center for Oceans, Rivers, Atmosphere and Land Science (CORAL) at IIT Kharagpur, as well as IIT Bhubaneswar's Climate Science and Technology major and their new Innovative Center for Climate Change.
Immediate plans for the future include building fully functional coastal observatory and creating and managing a multinational, multidisciplinary Digital Earth Institute at IIT Kharagpur, where scientists from around the world will be able to come to examine climate change impacts on the Bay of Bengal.
More about the Fulbright Program at UMass Dartmouth
Founded more than 60 years ago, the mission of the J. William Fulbright Scholarship Program is to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and of the more than 150 participating countries.
The 300,000 Fulbright alumni include heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. They have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes.
In 2011, UMass Dartmouth was named a "Fulbright Top-Producing Institution." Including Prof. Gangopadhyay's grant, the University has produced one student and eight faculty Fulbrighters in just four years.