Wayne State University

Exchange program will send Wayne State University science students to Puerto Rico to learn, teach

Abigail Fusaro (Top) and Carly Nowicki (Bottom)

DETROIT — Two Wayne State University students will attend the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus (UPR-M) for the next three years as part of a cross-cultural exchange program. 

Titled Undergraduate Science Education 2013, the program is funded by an Undergraduate Science Education grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is designed to expose young scientists to Latin culture through interaction with local undergraduates interested in ecology.

In return, visiting young scientists will host a workshop on urban ecology for UPR-M students — mainly undergraduates — to familiarize them with American culture, science and urban environmental issues.

Doctoral degree student Carly Nowicki of Howell, Mich., and postdoctoral fellow Abigail Fusaro of Ann Arbor, Mich., will be the first WSU participants.

UPR-M students are 99 percent Hispanic, the largest underrepresented minority (URM) group in the United States. Program officials said better understanding of cultural differences may help institutions retain competent URM students.

By influencing visiting junior scientists early in their professional careers, officials hope to increase awareness and familiarize them with the social and cultural surroundings of Hispanic students, hopefully leading to an easier adaptation process for URM students.

Donna Kashian, Wayne State assistant professor of biological sciences, serves as adviser to the WSU students who will visit UPR-M. “My ultimate goal is to recruit some great Puerto Rican students here to WSU, and provide WSU students with a unique learning experience,” she said.


Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.