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SMC math professor recalls research in Brazil

Meaghan Daly | Monday, November 14, 2011

As part of International Education Week (IEW), Saint Mary’s mathematics professor Steven Broad discussed his time researching in Brazil this summer during a Monday lecture.

Broad researched geometric singularity theory from April through July of this year with funding from a Fulbright grant. He said his research was mainly conducted at Universidade de São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil, but he also spent time in Goiânia, Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.

“Brazilians are very open and social in general,” Broad said.

Broad spent his trip delivering lectures, talking to graduate students and attending conferences.

The Fulbright program “offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States,” according to the program’s website.

Broad said he enjoyed learning about the country’s culture.

“Rio isn’t as touristy as I expected,” he said. “Most of the people [there] are Brazilian and from Rio. It’s a place that’s kind of stuck in the past, not to say it’s not a wonderful city. São Paulo is far more dynamic.”

The Universidade de São Paulo is one of the largest and most prestigious universities in Brazil, Broad said, and adjusting to the a new campus with 80,000 students was a big change from Saint Mary’s College in South Bend.

However, Broad said he knew a mathematics professor at the university in São Paulo, and making that connection helped him learn about his new setting.

“It helped a lot that I had a contact to help arrange conferences and talks,” Broad said.

Broad delivered eight presentations throughout his time in Brazil.

As he reflected on his trip, Broad said the application processes, which requires 15 to 20 pages of a research proposal and three letters of recommendation, was stressful.

“It’s probably enough time that if you didn’t get the award you’d be upset about the amount of time you spent on it,” Broad said.

But Broad said his time in Brazil was worth the trouble of the paperwork.

“Sometimes it’s harder to come home than it is to go,” Broad said. “You prepare to go, but you don’t prepare to go home.”