Through Fulbright Award, Computer Science Professor to Study Smart Cities, and Family History, in Poland



By Casey Moffitt
Cynthia Hood speaks to students

A Fulbright United States Scholar Award will allow Cynthia Hood, associate professor of computer science and engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology, to seize an opportunity to go on a professional and personal journey.

Hood will be traveling to Poznań University of Technology in Poland to collaborate on research and possibly teaching that is broadly centered on the resiliency of smart cities.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I believe it will have a significant impact on my career and worldview,” Hood says. “I was really excited to get the news, and a bit nervous. This will be quite an adventure.”

Hood will be traveling to Poland in January 2023, where she will remain for six months while working with Adrian Kliks, an associate professor with the Institute of Radiocommunications at Poznań University of Technology, as well as Professor Vasyl Lytvyn and Professor Natalija Kunanets of Lviv Polytechnic National University in Ukraine.

Chicago, Lviv, Ukraine, and Poznań, Poland, like many cities around the world, have implemented information and communication technology to provide better services and quality of life to residents. Smart cities hold great promise, but to date the results have been mixed. Hood will conduct research with Kliks, Lytvyn, and Kunanets to see how technology can be used to improve resilience in smart cities.

“The reasons for this gap are multifaceted, but the development of single-domain technology solutions and the need for increased interconnections and inclusion of the human and societal aspects seem to be common themes,” Hood says. “In addition events such as the pandemic, along with ongoing climate change, highlight the need for increased focus on resilience.”

Hood applied for the Fulbright Award to conduct research in Lviv. However, due to the ongoing war in the country, traveling to Ukraine is not advisable. Despite that, Hood was offered the opportunity to participate in the Fulbright program in an alternate location.

“Fulbright gave me the opportunity to select two alternate countries, and Poland was my first choice,” she says. “I'm especially grateful to be given the opportunity to work in Poland given that the program in Ukraine is suspended. I’m interested to work with Polish and Ukrainian faculty and students to get their technical and cultural perspectives on technology.”

Hood also says that having the opportunity to travel abroad and adjust to a new culture will help her connect with Illinois Tech students who come to the university from other countries.

“After working to welcome international students to Illinois Tech, I will get to experience some of what they encounter moving to a new culture,” she says.

This experience will also be a personal journey for Hood, who has familial roots in Poland and Ukraine.

“My paternal great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Poland and Ukraine, so this gives special meaning to these cultures for me, and I am even hoping to do some research on my own family history while I'm there,” she says. “I hope to travel to Lviv during this time, but this will depend on the status of the war.”

The United States Department of State has established relationships with more than 160 countries through the Fulbright Program. It offers international educational and cultural experiences for students, scholars, artists, and teachers to study, teach, and conduct research.