Fresno State professor Dr. Mohan Dangi will spend a year in Washington, D.C., beginning in August, advising government officials on topics of science that have bearing on the U.S. foreign policy and global dealings as part of the Jefferson Science Fellowship.
Dangi, a professor in the Department of Geography and City and Regional Planning, is one of 14 professors selected nationwide for the prestigious fellowship. He will work as the environmental sustainability adviser for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Field and Response Operations, Supply Chain Management.
“It’s an absolute joy to be awarded this high recognition and my heart feels pride to receive the renowned Jefferson Science Fellowship,” Dangi said. “I feel very fortunate to represent my students, my department, Fresno State, the Central Valley and California.”
The fellowship program is administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and is supported by the U.S. Department of State and USAID. As a fellow, Dangi will offer guidance and advice to decision makers and government officials and help them develop an understanding of complex science issues.
He said that becoming familiar with important foreign matters at the highest level will allow him to bring relevant content back to Fresno State for his courses in environmental policy management and environmental pollution.
“The experience will assist me in improving our curricula and helping motivate students to seek a career that includes a passion for science combined with an interest in policymaking from the local level to the highest levels of the government. The material from the fellowship could be used to develop an entirely new course, or it could enhance the content of existing courses.”
Dangi is internationally recognized for his work in understanding waste stream characteristics at the source of generation in developing countries and is an expert in curriculum development. At Fresno State, he has developed and reinvented six courses. Prior to that, he helped create two engineering curricula in his native Nepal and initiated a K-12 renewable energy curriculum for Nepali high schools. He also has led several study abroad courses in Nepal.
This is not the first time Dangi has earned recognition for his work. He was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Alternate, received a Fulbright Specialist Award, and the Coleman Fellowship. His other recognitions include a Gold Medal from the king of Nepal in 2005 and National Student of the Year Award in 2004.
As a professor, Dangi frequently meets with students during odd hours and weekends to accommodate their needs.
“As a first-generation college student, I had to work exceedingly hard to overcome hardships and earn my education,” he said. “Having spent over 15 years involved with my own higher education, I have developed the skills to work with students of various cultures, educational requirements and levels of preparation.”
Like every professor, Dangi has had to adapt to virtual teaching because of pandemic restrictions. He has been a certified online instructor since 2017, and has used Zoom meetings for international collaborative work for the last few years, which has made the transition to virtual teaching smooth.
“One thing I dearly miss is my first-hand interaction with students and sharing my professional and life story interactively,” Dangi said. “Nothing can replace people-to-people interaction. As humans, we are hardwired to function and progress while in direct contact with each other.”