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Dobkin to travel to Israel on Fulbright Scholarship

In a few weeks, computer science department chair David Dobkin will embark on his six-month Fulbright scholarship and sabbatical to pursue research in Haifa, Israel.

Dobkin was awarded a Ful-bright last spring to research computer graphics and the mathematical algorithms used to create such graphics at the Technion Institute.

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Describing his work as the creation of "virtual worlds that parallel reality," Dobkin said he studies how to build a complex image using many simple polygons – each with its own algorithm. One of the aspects he said he plans to address is the mathematical calculation governing the movements of three-dimensional images when the viewer's perspective changes.

The Fulbright Scholar Program, which awards scholarships to foster research in the natural and social sciences, provided stipends to 700 U.S. academic professionals and scholars this year.

Israel was his family's first choice for a location, Dobkin explained, because of its rich culture, fast-growing technology industry and high proportion of English-speaking citizens.

"We looked for a country where English was spoken and that was exotic. Israel seemed to be the right place. I guess we'll find out," he said.

Opportunities

Dobkin said Israel has a strong and innovative computer industry. "For its size, it has a fairly large community of people in my field of research," he said, adding that in a country "the size of New Jersey, it's fairly easy to be in contact with them all."

Dobkin said he looks forward to touring Israel and neighboring countries, as well as meeting the other Fulbright winners conducting research in Israel.

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"When you look at the other Fulbright people, there are some high-tech ones, but Israel is a country with lots of facets and a long history," he said. "I expect half will be 'techies' and half will have shovels [for archeological pursuits]."

With his three children and his wife accompanying him in a six-month stay, Dobkin said his initial nervousness about terrorism in the region has been assuaged by the recent drop in terrorist incidents and by the reassurance of some Israeli friends.

"They've calmed me down," he said, "but at some level, with terrorism, you realize you can't live your life in fear."

The prospect of dedicating six months strictly to research without handling the responsibilities of a department chair has Dobkin excited. "The luxury of having six months without juggling day-today responsibilities and crises will be fabulous for my research," he noted.

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