Muhammad Spocter, Ph.D., has been awarded a fellowship that, in a way, will take him home. The associate professor of anatomy received a Carnegie Alumni Diaspora Fellowship from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
Commonly known as “Wits,” the university is one of the oldest in South Africa and highly ranked for training health sciences professionals and scientists. Many of these graduates have emigrated to other countries, however. In 2010, Wits created a program to bring back alumni who work at academic institutions around the globe to share knowledge and stimulate research collaborations. The Carnegie Corporation now funds the program.
During his two-week fellowship at Wits, Spocter will supervise the training of Ph.D. students who are mapping the brain of the endangered African wild dog. He also will deliver a lecture to the faculty and help graduate students on a project to engage South African youth in the neurosciences.
“A lot of graduate students there don’t think about community outreach,” he says. “Our department at DMU has a rich history of that.”
Spocter’s advisees have included Jonathan Tenley, M.S.A.’17, D.P.M.’19. The two were among the authors of a poster Tenley presented at the DMU Research Symposium on Dec. 7, titled “The Brain of the African Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus): MRI Atlas, Diffusion Tensor Imaging and Quantitative Volumetrics.”
“Dr. Spocter is completely devoted to the success of his students and is always there to help with questions,” he says. “This was the first major research project that I have worked on, and he took me under his wing… I was very fortunate to have him as my research mentor.”