Launched in 2004 by Ambassador Ronald N. and Eileen Weiser to link U-M and Slovak academic communities, the Weiser Professional Development Program was expanded this year to seek applicants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kaliningrad, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Visiting faculty from institutions of higher education in these countries spend up to one month in Ann Arbor partnering on research with U-M faculty. The program is administered by the newly-established Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia (WCEE).

The 2009 competition produced five awardees who will visit U-M this year:

  • Diana Dumitru, associate professor and head of the World History Department at the State Pedagogical University Ion Creanga, Chisinau, Moldova, researches the Holocaust in Bessarabia and Transnistria; her host is Zvi Gitelman, Professor of Political Science and Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies. 
  • Yelena Penchukova, executive director of the Marketing Center at the International Academy of Business, Almaty, Kazakhstan, will study the role of cultural influences on specific consumer safety decision-making behavior with U-M host Andrew D. Gershoff, associate professor of marketing in the Ross School of Business. 
  • Marek Rybar, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia continues his research on Slovak political party democracy with U-M’s Anna Grzymala-Busse, associate professor of political science. 
  • Iryna Shkura, associate professor of finance and banking at Dnipropetrovsk University of Economics and Law, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, will examine methods of analyses of financial securities with host advisor, Barbara Peitsch, U-M Dearborn, and with faculty at the U-M Ross School of Business and the William Davidson Institute. 
  • Erika Zemkova, research associate professor of physical education and sport, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia, will collaborate on an assessment of postural stability and experimental and treatment protocols for sensory deficient patients and the elderly with U-M host Kathleen H. Sienko, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering.

For more information about the awardees and their projects, go to: