UND’s Wayne Seames named the 2014-2015 Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom


David L. Dodds

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News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Engineering & Mines


University of North Dakota Chester Fritz Professor of Chemical Engineering Wayne Seames will be spending a sabbatical year at the University of Leeds in Northern England after being named that university's 2014-2015 Fulbright Distinguished Chair Scholar.

The Distinguished Chair Awards are designed for eminent scholars with substantial experience and publications in their respective fields. Awards in the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Program are viewed as among the most prestigious and highly competitive appointments offered by the Fulbright Commission.

One of only three distinguished chairs sponsored in the U.K. each year, the Fulbright Foundation awards one Distinguished Chair fellowship to a U.S. citizen to contribute to the intellectual life of the University of Leeds through seminars, public lectures and curriculum development in any discipline. Candidates are selected by the Fulbright Commission and the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) for a 6 month appointment.

While at Leeds, Seames will work on both teaching and research related projects.

"With my hosts in the Process Engineering Faculty at the University of Leeds, I have designed a series of activities to establish a long-term, multi-investigator research collaboration, identify best educational practices in chemical engineering, and disseminate both research and educational concepts through workshops and lectures in university and community forums at Leeds, in the surrounding communities, and to a more limited extent, at other locations throughout Britain," Seames said. "The project is broad by design, given the intent to use this as a springboard to a long-term multifaceted collaboration, rather than focusing on a single aspect in depth, and will have roughly 60 percent research-related activities and 40 percent teaching-related activities. I'll be plenty busy!"

Seames will endeavor to build a sustainable collaboration between two research centers -- the Sustainable Energy Research Initiative and Supporting Education (SUNRISE) program at UND and the Energy Research Institute (ERI) at Leeds -- as well as an educational bridge between the two school's chemical engineering departments.

"ERI is one of the few research centers that focuses on both renewable fuels and the long-term sustainable use of coal, which are the two largest focus areas in SUNRISE", says Seames. "It just looks like a perfect fit of two research centers".


ERI Director William Gale agrees. In his letter of support, Gale states, "Research on sustainable energy at Leeds is complimentary to activities at SUNRISE, but without significant duplication. Thus, Seames' sabbatical matches best with best in sustainable energy research."

Striving for excellence in education as well as research is another area of commonality.

"The two schools also have a shared commitment to student education in chemical engineering. There are distinctive features of the UND Chemical Engineering program that differs from that at Leeds in both focus and methods of delivery, providing major scope for shared learning," Gale said. "Further, academic staff throughout the University of Leeds have major enthusiasm for Professor Seames' sabbatical. This is reflected in the great deal of time that SPEME staff spent co-developing the research and student education plans we will jointly pursue while Wayne is in residence."

Seames is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2014-2015 academic year. The Scholar Program offers opportunities for American scholars, artists and professionals to conduct research, lecture and/or consult with other scholars and institutions abroad.

Wide-ranging opportunities

Distinguished chairs in the U.K. are invited to participate in a wide range of events, and benefit from a variety of additional opportunities provided by the Fulbright Commission.

Distinguished Chairs also benefit from free institutional memberships with The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA), The National Trust/The Royal Oak Foundation and The English-Speaking Union (ESU) and are invited to participate as a judge in the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters competition. Chairs are encouraged to deliver a free public lecture at the prestigious Gresham College (est. 1597) in London. Chairs are provided with a U.K. alumni mentor and the Commission seeks to introduce visiting U.S. Chairs to relevant senior/high-profile contacts in the UK.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, scientists and other professionals the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.