March 15, 2016 – Eric Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability and chair of the Department of Environmental Science at Allegheny College, has been awarded a 2016-17 Fulbright award to the United Kingdom.
Pallant, who teaches a class at Allegheny titled “Soil to Plate,” an interdisciplinary survey of food production around the world, will reside in the U.K. for five months. He plans to spend half his time undertaking research into the scientific transformation of bread production as part of a book he is writing on the geography and history of sourdough cultures. The book is tentatively titled “Culture: A Short History of the World in a Loaf of Fresh Sourdough.”
He also plans to teach about food, sustainability and green campus initiatives at Lancaster University.
Pallant plans to work with the Lancaster Environmental Centre on a microbial survey of yeast sharing communities and the working microbial economy of Lancaster. He also plans to visit the National Collection of Yeast Cultures, a 65-year-old research facility with 4,000 strains of yeast, to have the yeasts in his own 122-year-old sourdough starter — from the Cripple Creek, Colorado gold rush of 1893 — analyzed for their microbial diversity.
A third component of his research will take place in the archives of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, where he will study the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the transformation of bread making from artisanal to mechanical.
This is Pallant’s second Fulbright Award. In 2001 he was awarded a Fulbright to teach and conduct research at Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which serves as a regional center for conservation and environmental protection activities and develops ties between Middle Eastern and Western university students.
In addition, Pallant has twice served as a U.S. State Department speaker and specialist. In 2008 he spent 10 days lecturing at universities and high schools in the Palestinian Authority on sustainability and green buildings. In 2014 he traveled for two weeks to Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines, where he lectured and held meetings to promote river rehabilitation.
For the last several years Pallant has partnered his classes at Allegheny College with classes in other countries via Skype, Facebook and on-line blogs. He has co-taught classes with professors in Pakistan, Morocco, Israel, France and England. After presenting his observations at the 2nd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities, he published “Overcoming Obstacles to Classroom Based, Cross-Border, Environmental Education in Universities.”
Allegheny College has one of the oldest environmental science programs at any liberal arts college in the United States. In 2015 it was recognized by EnvironmentalScience.org as the second best program in the country.
The Fulbright Program, which increases mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Only about 500 teaching and/or research Fulbrights are awarded each year.