URI faculty member named a U.S. Fulbright Scholar

Professor Joseph Goodwill will focus on making clean water access a priority

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 26, 2023 – University of Rhode Island engineering professor Joseph Goodwill will soon be bringing his teaching and researching skills to the University of Trento in Italy after being named a 2023 U.S. Fulbright Scholar.

Goodwill studies and teaches the application of physics and chemical principles to improve water quality, with the objective of improving that quality so humans can drink it. The Fulbright award came after a long process that ended in March.

“It’s quite the honor,” Goodwill said. “These Fulbrights are competitive, and of course the opportunity to represent the United States in some way is a mighty responsibility.”

Goodwill has an extensive background in working with international organizations to address water quality issues in developing countries, including the International Water Association Water for People, and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s also worked in sub-Saharan Africa, rural Malawi, India, Bolivia, and Ghana.

Even after learning he had won the award, Goodwill suffered from a problem many people know all too well. “I have to admit to a little bit of imposter syndrome when that letter contained highlights of what Fulbright alumni have gone on to do. It includes heads of state, MacArthur Fellows, and Nobel Prize Laureates. It left me with some aspirational goals for a later time,” he said.

Goodwill hopes his work abroad will result in better water quality for areas that may not have the funds or the structure in place for extensive changes in an existing water system. “One of my overarching career goals is to just try to improve that situation. What I propose doing for research at the University of Trento is to try to develop a new approach to improving water quality: relatively simple, relatively low input that may be appropriate for developing countries.”

On the academic side, he has proposed a new class called Water Treatment and Disadvantaged Communities that would take the standard curriculum taught to American engineers, including those studying at the University of Rhode Island, and ask difficult questions about appropriateness and sustainability in geographical areas with significantly fewer resources.

Goodwill is scheduled to begin his work in Italy in the spring of 2024.

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers over 400 awards each year, to college and university faculty, as well as artists and professionals from a wide range of fields, to teach, conduct research and work on professional projects in more than 135 countries.