STEUBENVILLE, OH—Dr. Alexander Roman Sich, professor of physics and pre-engineering at Franciscan University of Steubenville, was awarded a highly competitive Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship that will take him to Ukraine later this summer. There, he will teach the philosophy of nature for the 2014-2015 academic year in L’viv, Ukraine, at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), the first Catholic university established in the territory of the former Soviet Union.
Sich joins the ranks of four Franciscan University of Steubenville professors and three students who have received the prestigious award.
This will be Sich’s third extended visit to Ukraine. In the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, he was the first Westerner permitted to investigate the reactor meltdown on site, working alongside Russian and Ukrainian scientists for 18 months during 1991-93 in support of his doctoral research.
From 1997 to 2000, Sich was the Department of Energy’s in-country representative for the International Nuclear Safety Program. During 2000-2003, he was a senior project manager for Operations Support and Safety and the “Ukrainian Contribution” for the European Bank’s project management unit, tasked with the clean up of the destroyed Chernobyl Unit-4 reactor as part of the internationally-funded Shelter Implementation Plan.
From 2003-2008, Sich served as a senior specialist, supporting non-proliferation work of the multilateral Science and Technology Center in Ukraine, working closely with Soviet scientists from Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries on converting their expertise in weapons of mass destruction to peaceful uses.
He made a nine-day visit to Ukraine in March of this year to lecture on the philosophy of nature, just as Russian troops were pouring into Crimea, igniting the international conflict that keeps the country in the international spotlight.
“This is a country rebuilding itself and attempting to reclaim its European values while shedding the destructiveness of its Soviet past,” said Sich. “Geographically, Western Ukraine is at the center of Europe. Ukraine is literally on the fault line of millennia-long struggles between western and eastern Europe, secular and non-secular worldviews, Catholic and Orthodox faiths—each vying for the heart of Ukraine.”
In addition to teaching under his Fulbright fellowship, Sich will also conduct research on the pre- and post-Soviet conceptualizations of the natural sciences. He also plans to use this 10-month period to complete a book that critically analyzes Intelligent Design from the perspective of the philosophy of nature and also produce a first draft of a textbook on the philosophy of nature.
Sich is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian. He will be joined in Ukraine by his wife, Nataly, and five of his seven children. The Sichs will live in a wing of a dormitory occupied by students and people with special needs, which will provide the UCU community with social interaction with a large family, a rarity in today’s Eastern Europe—an unfortunate outcome of Communist policies and economic hardships.
About the Fulbright
Each year, the Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program provides 800 grants in more than 125 countries to support teaching and research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. It is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide. Fifty-three Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes; 78 have won Pulitzer Prizes. More Nobel laureates are former Fulbright recipients than any other award program.
The program was founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.