The Penn State Eberly College of Science has named Joel Waters its coordinator of study abroad and international programs, effective Aug. 1.
Waters joins Career Information Coordinator Ann Marie Daniel and interim Coordinator of Undergraduate Research Emily Bell in the college’s Office of Science Engagement, which aims to help Eberly undergraduates get more out of their Penn State experience through education abroad, professional development, and undergraduate research opportunities.
“It's been an absolute joy so far in getting to do what I love doing more than anything with students, which is helping them plan out their international experiences, to broaden their personal horizons, to discover new cultures, and to become the global citizens that we’re trying to develop here at Penn State,” Waters said.
Although international programs across the University are just restarting due to the pandemic, Waters said he’s hopeful that they will be able to resume within the year.
“The biggest thing is that all instructors and students who travel abroad must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” he added. “So the best thing you can do to set yourself up for international travel in the future is to get vaccinated.”
The Office of Science Engagement typically offers a variety of opportunities for Eberly students to study abroad, including traditional semester-long programs and short-term programs designed to fit within a spring, winter, or summer break, as well as international research opportunities.
“Before COVID, our students could have all sorts of incredibly culturally enriching experiences,” Waters said. “I'm looking forward to starting up again.”
In the interim, Waters organized a virtual cross-cultural experience last spring titled “The History of Medical Education in Italy,” and he said he’d like to do something similar again this year, “regardless of whether or not we can travel. But especially if we can’t travel, I would definitely like to set up more virtual opportunities for science students to interact with other scientists abroad.”
Looking to the post-COVID future, he added, “My biggest goal is to offer, in every single academic unit within the Eberly College of Science, at least one go-to international experience that fits into their academic plan. In order to do that it’s going to take curriculum integration, establishing major-specific tracks through our study abroad providers, and establishing new faculty-led courses, and it's something that I'm excited to do.”
Prior to joining the Office of Science Engagement, Waters was an academic adviser at Penn State for seven years — first in the College of Health and Human Development and then in the Department of Biology, where he was recognized in 2019 with the University’s Excellence in Academic Advising Award.
“I look forward to continuing to work with students,” he said. “I really enjoy interacting with students one-on-one. That's what I did for the last seven years with academic advising, and I look forward now to helping students with their study abroad goals. In my opinion, there are few things in life more fulfilling than education abroad, as it’s one of the most valuable experiences a student can have academically.”
Eberly students who are interested in learning more about the college’s study abroad opportunities should schedule an appointment with Joel Waters on Starfish.