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Chico State

Professor Receives Fulbright Scholar Award To Teach and Study Agricultural Best Practices in Turkey

Lee Altier stands among the plants in the aquaponics garden at the University Farm
Photo courtesy of Lee Altier

Lee Altier at Chico State’s Aquaponics Unit at the University Farm

California State University, Chico is pleased to announce that Lee Altier, professor of agriculture, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award for the fall 2021 academic semester from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. One of the most widely recognized and prestigious scholarships in the world, the Fulbright will allow Altier to travel to Izmir, Turkey, in fall 2021 to join Ege University’s agriculture faculty as a visiting professor.

While in Izmir, Altier will examine how farmers in the large and fertile area of land in the region address the agricultural challenges of water scarcity, protecting soil quality, and food security—the challenge of growing enough food and vegetables to meet a population’s dietary needs.

“I love the wide-eyed experience of visiting another country and learning about another culture,” said Altier. “Part of that for me is learning how people take what they grow and turn it into localized cuisine to feed their population.”

Like Chico State, Ege University has a large farm where students can participate in hands-on learning. The region is known for growing olives, fruit and a diverse array of vegetables. Altier plans to focus on agroecology—the study of relationships between plants, animals, people, and their environment, and the balance between these relationships. He will also discuss Chico State’s research on “no till” farming techniques that simultaneously maintain soil quality and sequester carbon to help fight climate change.

“I’m intrigued by Ege University because it is a major agricultural university and the faculty is really focused on sustainable farming practices,” said Altier. “In addition, Izmir has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate just like Chico. They face many of the same challenges we are currently facing here in the North Valley. I’m looking forward to the sharing of knowledge and best practices.”

Altier has quite a bit of expertise to share—he has been working in farming for nearly four decades. He earned his MS and PhD in horticulture from Cornell University and has taught at Chico State for the last 26 years. He has been the director of the Organic Vegetable Project at the University Farm and has led students on study abroad programs in Nepal and Thailand.

“Lee’s support and mentorship of students and innovative research practices in organic vegetable production at the University Farm over the last two decades are to be commended,” said Patrick Doyle, interim associate dean for the College of Agriculture. “He is well-deserving of the Fulbright award, and we look forward hearing many stories about how farmers in Izmir are responding to the challenges of the modern world.”

Lee is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will conduct research abroad for the 2021–22 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals.