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Fulbright Scholarship sends Indiana Twp. man to Indonesia

Tawnya Panizzi
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Jeff Good, from Fox Chapel, smiles as he walks along the wooden bridge over the creek at the Squaw Valley Park in O'Hara. After publishing his undergraduate thesis in Marine Biology he was granted The Fulbright Scholarship where he will do research in Indonesia. Jan Pakler

Recent college graduate Jeff Good is hoping to spend his first year out of school studying the effects of industrial pollutants on seafood, at the same time bridging cultural gaps in his new home of Indonesia.

Good, 22, a resident of Indiana Township and alumni of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, a competitive grant that supports international research and relations.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program was founded in 1946 to encourage the exchange of academics. It now operates in more than 155 countries.

Considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world, the Fulbright Program has turned out 53 Nobel Prize winners and 78 Pulitzer Prize winners in its seven decades.

“As an eager recent college graduate who's planning to live and work for 13 months in a completely new and alien environment, I am, of course, nervous,” Good said. “But this is a personal challenge that will continue to shape my career, while at the same time, allowing me to learn about the different cultures around the world.”

Good, who earned his bachelor's degree in marine science, leaves mid-August for Indonesia where he'll spend 13 months studying the aquaculture facilities that raise milkfish.

“These milkfish are very culturally and economically important,” Good said. “Everyone eats them and they are essential to many cultural dishes in Indonesia.”

But sicknesses and health concerns have stemmed from the consumption, he said.

Good's hypothesis is that industry pollution and agricultural runoff threatens the ponds where the fish are raised.

“There is very little research in this area and my goal is to research what toxins have built up in the fish, and raise awareness of the consequences of industry dumping on local Indonesian aquaculture facilities,” Good said.

Once in Indonesia, Good will study for three months to learn the language of Bahasa. He will live in the city of Semarang in the province of Central Java.

Indonesia, comprised of thousands of islands, has more than 252 million people. It is bordered by Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia.

Good will be hosted by Dr. Budi Widianarko at the Catholic University of Soegijapranata, also in Semarang. Widianarko is an ecotoxicologist who also aims to raise awareness of food safety.

Good considers the Fulbright Scholarship a first step in the pursuit of his career goals. Interested in marine sciences since his childhood, Good aspires to be accepted into a graduate program to research cephalopod (squid, octopus, cuttlefish) neurology and its application to human medicine and neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's.

“It will be an exciting adventure, sure to be filled with peril and eye-opening experiences,” Good said. “There will also be numerous opportunities for an upcoming marine scientist to make a change.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2.

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