Incoming: Joshua Forer, from Florida to Bordeaux

Joshua Forer is a doctoral student from the University of Central Florida (UCF) currently carrying out research at the Institute of Molecular Sciences (ISM) of the University of Bordeaux (UBx). His research visit, which focuses on the study of electron-driven processes in the interstellar medium, is co-funded by the University of Bordeaux and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

What brings you to Bordeaux?

Thanks to the advice and guidance of my advisor at UCF, Dr. Viatcheslav Kokoouline, I arrived in Bordeaux in March 2021 within the framework of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program*, which co-funds my stay until January 2022. I then hope to stay an additional 2 months in order to achieve a co-tutelle between UCF and UBx.

Describe your research project here in Bordeaux

My research, which is supervised by Drs. Thierry Stoecklin and Jean-Christophe Loison at the Institute for Molecular Sciences, focuses on the physical processes that take place in astrophysics (the Interstellar Medium - ISM). We aim to develop a theory that explains experimental observations so that we may increase our knowledge about how the ISM will evolve in time. This would lead to a better understanding of star formation, supernovae, the formation of organic molecules in space, etc.

During my stay, I am investigating two physical processes taking place in the Interstellar Medium (ISM): the formation of negative ions through rotational Feshbach resonances (a new project I started here in Bordeaux) and the photoionization of the CH molecule (which I already started to study in UCF).

What are your impressions of the University of Bordeaux, the people, the city? 

Positive! The people, be they from the faculty or outside of the university, are all very welcoming and helpful. What strikes me about Bordeaux is how clean the city is and also how easy it is to get around thanks to the efficient public transport system. Back home in Florida, a car is essential to be mobile.

In comparison to Paris, which I know as well, I find that Bordeaux has a better quality of life with people taking the time to do other things apart from “metro-boulot-dodo” (metro-work-sleep). It’s a very pleasant place to live.

What have you learned so far from your international experience here? 

As my mother is French, I already speak the language fluently and this was useful when getting settled and sorting out the mountain of paperwork. I have however developed some extra language skills with my discovery of the south-west dialect and vocabulary such as “poche” instead of “sac” for a bag and of course the famous “chocolatine” instead of “pain au chocolat” (chocolate bread).

The French are renowned for preserving their work/life balance and it’s true that here, people stop for a true lunch break unlike in the USA. There is also a strong café terrace culture whereas back home, we take our coffee to go. Lucky for me I don’t have a problem with a work/life balance as I truly love what I do!

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.  A candidate will submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S.

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

4 Fulbright-University of Bordeaux Doctoral Research Awards

Up to four awards are offered to students enrolled in a doctoral program in the United States to pursue research for their thesis at the University of Bordeaux or the University Bordeaux Montaigne. Candidates may carry out research projects in any of the disciplines represented at the University of Bordeaux and the University Bordeaux Montaigne’s doctoral schools.

Updated on 21/10/2021