Teresa Bulman has always enjoyed research. However, with a background that includes working at one of the most prestigious law firms in the world, a career switch from corporate litigation to research-based academia seemed to be a distant possibility.
For the love of teaching
Teresa Bulman has always enjoyed research.
However, with a background that includes working at one of the most prestigious law firms in the world, a career switch from corporate litigation to research-based academia seemed to be a distant possibility.
Today, Bulman dedicates her life to research, both as a geography professor at Portland State and a widely recognized researcher.
But Bulman didn’t start out this way. She spent nearly a decade employed with the international law firm Coudert Brothers before she ever seriously considered teaching.
“It was the largest international law firm, and specialized in corporate law,” Bulman said about the firm, which she joined in 1978.
During her career with the firm, Bulman traveled to London, Paris, Switzerland and numerous other places around the world.
“It was a wonderful career, intellectually stimulating and profitable but the schedule was very demanding,” Bulman said.
Bulman said she always wanted to get involved with teaching and research. It was probably all the traveling she did for the firm that first made her interested in geography, she said.
In the end, Bulman made a conscious decision to change her career.
Before joining PSU in 1991, Bulman attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received a master’s degree in geography. She earned a doctorate in that discipline from the University of California in 1990.
Bulman said PSU seemed to be a good place to teach because the university offered exactly what she was looking for.
“The job was the right fit with a fine balance between teaching and research,” she said.
And, if Bulman’s numerous grant awards and personal accolades are any indication, Bulman has shown a great deal of dedication to her work, an opinion both her students and colleagues have voiced.
“She always wanted to teach,” said Martha Works, head of the geography department. “She followed her heart and that shows. She is an outstanding teacher.”
Bulman has contributed to several publications and has been the recipient of numerous research grants, notably a $321,510 grant from the National Science Foundation for a Pacific Northwest environmental studies program.
Aside from her career at PSU, Bulman is involved with ongoing research in geography-related fields, such as climate change, as well as the education of K-12 teachers.
“She has an unending passion for research,” said Carolyn Perry, administrative manager for Oregon Geographic Alliance, which Bulman co-coordinates. “As a testament to her passion for research, Bulman receives research grants every year.”
Bulman recently received a grant from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. The $50,000 grant will go toward the development of geography programs for teachers in Oregon.