Gad Perry will spend one year working with the U.S. Department of State.
A Texas Tech University faculty member has been named one of only 14 individuals nationwide selected for the Jefferson Science Fellowship Program, which builds science, technology and engineering expertise within the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Gad Perry is a professor of conservation science in the Department of Natural Resources Management in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, director of the International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies and senior director of the Division of International Research and Development in the Office of International Affairs.
"It is a great honor to be chosen, as this is a very competitive program," Perry said. "Just 14 senior scientists from throughout the country have been chosen after a detailed screening process that involved the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; the State Department; and USAID. I am excited about the opportunities this will offer."
Perry's research centers on conservation biology, with particular emphasis on invasive and endangered species issues. He is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's invasive species and iguana specialist groups, and he has conducted field studies around the world. Current and recently completed student projects involve reptile ecology in Madagascar, biogeography in the Caribbean, iguana conservation in the Virgin Islands, sustainable civet use in Ethiopia and urban ecology of birds in Lubbock.
The program is open to tenured, or similarly ranked, faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are U.S. citizens. Selected Jefferson Science Fellows spend one year on assignment at the U.S. Department of State or USAID as science advisors on foreign policy/international development issues. Assignments are tailored to the needs of the hosting office while taking into account the Fellows' interests and areas of expertise. As part of their assignments, Fellows have the opportunity to travel to U.S. embassies and missions overseas. Following the fellowship year, Fellows return to their academic career but remain available to the U.S. government as an experienced consultant for short-term projects.
Perry expects his Jefferson Science Fellow assignment to be in the U.S. Department of State.
"This is a great opportunity to expand horizons and find some new challenges, which is always exciting," Perry said. "From a more pragmatic perspective, it is also an opportunity to develop an understanding of how the State Department works and create relationships that can be professionally useful, both to the individual and the university as a whole. My feeling is the expertise faculty bring, both in knowledge and in ability to analyze complex situations and help discuss them with others, could be invaluable to the State Department. That would be gratifying in and of itself."
Perry is only the second current Texas Tech faculty member ever chosen for this fellowship. Clyde Martin, a Horn Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, served in the 2012-2013 class as the program's first mathematician/statistician.
The 2017-2018 Jefferson Science Fellows class is the 13th since the program's establishment in 2003 as an initiative of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. The individuals in the class were expected to begin their one-year assignments in August in Washington, D.C.
"I'd like to thank Texas Tech for the opportunity to do this," Perry said. "We don't usually get a full year's release, and I think that represents both the university's commitment and the recognition that Texas Tech benefits greatly, in many ways, from having its faculty gain practical experience with how government works. For those of us who work on international development and internationalizing the campus, this kind of opportunity is especially priceless."