Fulbright Scholar Stories | David Kotz
Professor of Computer Science, Dartmouth College
Discipline: Computer Science
Host Institution: Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
Academic Year: 2008-2009
As a young teenager, David Kotz accompanied his father, Jack, on a Fulbright grant to Portugal. Today, he is a professor at Dartmouth College - and a second-generation Fulbrighter. He is married to a Fulbrighter too. David and his wife, a pediatrics professor named Pamela Jenkins, gave their children the same kind of in-depth cultural exposure he had at 15. He took the entire family to India.
David spent the 2008-2009 academic year developing a workshop on developing mobile computing capacity in India's health care sector. He spent most of his time at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), one of the country's top research institutions. From that experience, Kotz developed a new collaborative project between Dartmouth and IISc for which he is now seeking funding from the National Science Foundation. David recalls his experience:
My wife and I were interested in an international experience, for ourselves and for our children. From my friendships with many colleagues from India I have long been interested in India as a place with fascinating culture and an up-and-coming technology powerhouse. India is one of the centers of technology activity in the 21st century, as evidenced so far by the tremendous growth in the IT and business-process outsourcing industry. As India expands its higher-education system its role in technology research and development will only expand.
The day-to-day experience of conducting research [in India] was not that much different [than working in the United States]. I worked most closely with a project assistant (a professional programmer who worked on our joint project) in the lab. Everyone I met was friendly, extremely bright, and hard working. I learned a lot from conversations with other faculty at IISc and at the [India institutes] I visited, about the structure of universities, the methods for funding research, the ways that they choose students or hire project assistants or purchase equipment.
I can think of two major ways that the Fulbright experience helped me further my career and expand my expertise. First, it gave me the time I needed to reflect on a new research direction, regarding the use of mobile communications and computing technology in healthcare. Second, it gave me the opportunity to travel India and visit experts at six institutions and numerous industry research labs. This opportunity to interact with experts and to learn more about India's technology (and a bit about its healthcare system) was tremendously valuable, and I hope to remain in contact with these people and those places.
My position as a Fulbright Scholar helped me to establish the collaborative links and a track record in India, which helped form the foundation for a pre-proposal to the NSF Program for International Research Education (PIRE). I met the leaders of this inter-university proposal, who are at USC, through my contacts as IISc.
Working in India provides deeper understanding of these trends and personal contacts that can provide opportunities for long-term collaboration. Being a Fulbrighter provides more than the logistical support to get there. With the respected Fulbright name, there is a certain 'status' that helps to open doors. Both my wife and I were thrilled to receive Fulbright Scholarships to India.