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### Enhancing Global Participation in the Cell and Molecular Biology Program by Alrubaye

Feb. 21, 2024

Cassandra Thomas

Adnan Alrubaye

Graduate and international education revolves around exploration — the quest for knowledge, the pursuit of research and innovative scholarship that enhances lives, and the exposure to different countries, cultures, and individuals. The Graduate School and International Education takes pride in acknowledging the contributions of our students, faculty, and staff who drive discoveries at the University of Arkansas.

Adnan Alrubaye’s fascination with poultry traces back to his childhood in southern Iraq, where he raised chickens to support his family with eggs and meat.

This upbringing sparked Alrubaye’s recognition of the significance of poultry as a vital food source, prompting his journey to the U of A. His tenure at the U of A has seen him transition through various roles: from student to alumnus, then faculty member and associate director of the Cell and Molecular Biology Program, one of the university’s largest graduate programs. Beyond his academic pursuits, he advocates for fostering a more inclusive and hospitable environment for international students on campus.

From a young age, Alrubaye’s parents ingrained in him the value of education and its profound impact on personal development and societal progress.

“They motivated me to seek learning opportunities both within and outside the classroom, offering unwavering support and guidance throughout my educational odyssey,” he expressed. “Consequently, I have come to comprehend the transformative influence of education and its pivotal role in shaping my future.”

Alrubaye commenced his educational journey by attending veterinary school in 2000, graduating as the top student among over 220 peers. Subsequently, he pursued further studies at the College of Medicine at the University of Baghdad, culminating in a master’s degree in medical microbiology in 2003, shortly before the onset of the 2003 war.

Driven by a desire to pursue his Ph.D. in the United States, renowned for its academic eminence, research prospects, cultural diversity, and lifelong learning environment, Alrubaye sought advice from a colleague at RTI International, U.S. State Agency for International Development (USAID), who recommended the U of A based on their Arkansas roots and affiliation with the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

As a graduate student in the Poultry Science Program, Alrubaye focused his research on combating chicken diseases, particularly chicken lameness and pulmonary hypertension syndrome, aiming to enhance poultry availability as a food source. His investigations have led to the identification of feed supplements to boost gut health, immune function, and reduce lameness. Currently, he is dedicated to developing a vaccine against lameness that could potentially save the poultry industry millions annually.

“Chicken stands as the primary animal protein globally, with Arkansas alone producing 1 billion birds annually,” he noted. “My objective extends beyond mere poultry quantity enhancement to ensuring the production of healthier poultry.”

Following the completion of his doctoral studies, Alrubaye chose to remain at the U of A, commencing as a biological sciences instructor and associate director of the interdisciplinary Cell and Molecular Biology Program within the Graduate School and International Education. Presently, he serves as an assistant professor of poultry microbiology in Bumpers College, imparts knowledge in general microbiology at Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and engages in research activities with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.

“The Graduate School and International Education community provided invaluable support during my student years,” he remarked. “The warmth and hospitality here were remarkable. While many graduates typically seek opportunities elsewhere post-graduation, our positive experiences prompted us to stay in Fayetteville.”

His recruitment in the Cell and Molecular Biology Program aimed to attract more students from Arabic-speaking nations. Collaborating closely with program head Doug Rhoads, Alrubaye played a pivotal role in doubling the enrollment in cell and molecular biology from approximately 50 students a decade ago to over 100 presently, positioning it as one of the university’s largest doctoral programs, with about three-quarters of the cohort comprising international students.

Furthermore, Alrubaye spearheaded several initiatives to enhance the inclusivity of the international community on campus. He co-chairs the Scholars at Risk Committee, facilitating the presence of international faculty members for research discussions on campus, established an International Employee Impact Group, and collaborated with Chartwell’s to diversify on-campus dining options by introducing Halal cuisine for students.

“I believe the needs of international students differ significantly,” he emphasized. “Local students have a support network of relatives and friends to rely on, which is often lacking for international students, leading to numerous challenges. I aimed to ease this transition for them.”

Reflecting on his university experience, Alrubaye recognizes the collective efforts of himself and fellow international community members in enhancing campus life.

“My mantra has always been, ‘I cannot alter the past, but I can commence today to shape the future,’” he shared. “While content with my current position, I remain driven to introduce more initiatives and support systems for international faculty, staff, and students, drawing from my personal journey as a student and now a faculty member.”

“I am well-acquainted with these challenges and aspire to facilitate a better quality of life for international students and faculty on campus,” he added. “This university is not just a workplace; it is my home. Besides my wife and children, I lack family in the U.S. This institution embodies my life, family, and home, and I am committed to fostering a more welcoming environment for all members of this community.”