Professor is VCU’s Fourth Jefferson Science Fellow at U.S. Department of State
Only one other university in the country has sent as many since the program’s inception
University Public Affairs
M. Samy El-Shall, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and physical engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University, is one of 13 research scientists and engineers selected nationwide as a 2012-2013 Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State.
Jefferson Science Fellows advise and educate policy officials, including the Secretary of State, about complex scientific issues and their potential impact on U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Following a one-year term, El-Shall will return to VCU, but remain available to the U.S. government as an expert consultant for short-term projects for a period of five years.
“Dr. El-Shall’s accomplishments and enthusiasm reflect the VCU community of faculty scholars and will be the building blocks for a very productive and meaningful fellowship,” said Francis Macrina, Ph.D., VCU’s vice president for research. “Samy is following in a line of superb Jefferson Science Fellows appointed from VCU.”
VCU’s three former fellows to the program are Puru Jena, Ph.D., distinguished professor of physics; Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemistry; and Robert Balster, Ph.D., director of the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies.
Researchers and engineers from institutions including Harvard, Michigan, Virginia, Colorado and Dartmouth have participated in the JSF program, but only Cornell has sent as many as VCU.
El-Shall’s research, education initiatives and international work have uniquely qualified him for the advising position.
He has developed a vigorous interdisciplinary research program at VCU centered on nanoscience and nanotechnology; taught and guided the research of students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists from numerous countries; promoted scientific collaboration between scientists from different parts of the world through the execution of six international research projects; organized 12 international conferences or workshops; and served on numerous international panels.
“I believe that science is a truly universal language that is always the same whether written in Arabic, Chinese, English or Hebrew,” El-Shall said. “I always believe it is in the best interest of the U.S. to create strong international partnerships in science and technology. These partnerships can be used to build strategic alliances and effectively forge diplomatic ties.”
As a fellow, El-Shall plans to propose international multi-partner research initiatives and conferences focused on the application of nanoscience and nanotechnology to address global energy, water, food, health and environmental challenges.
He said the fellowship is “an opportunity to fulfill my keen desire to use my love of science as a bridge to promote international collaboration and partnership, especially between the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries where science and education have a strong role to play in creating advanced societies with better economic futures.”
“We commend Virginia Commonwealth University for their continued support of the Jefferson Science Fellowship program that has brought distinguished scientists and engineers to provide their expertise to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development,” said E. William Colglazier, Ph.D., science and technology adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. “We look forward to the contributions of incoming fellow professor M. Samy El-Shall and the continued engagement by the three former Jefferson fellows at VCU.
“We also know that the fellows bring their policy experience knowledge back to the university to the benefit of the faculty and students alike,” he added.
The Jefferson Science Fellowship program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between the U.S. academic community, professional scientific societies and the U.S. Department of State. All Jefferson Science Fellowships are contingent upon awardees obtaining an official U.S. government security clearance.