International partnerships offer opportunities for collaboration
The University of Delaware is building education
and research collaborations around the world that
provide opportunities for both graduate students and
faculty. With more than 150 university partnership agreements representing
at least 60 countries, the following are just a few examples of the depth of
the opportunities for UD's graduate community.
Fraunhofer is Europe's largest application-oriented
research organization, operating
66 institutes and independent research
units around the globe with initiatives
focusing on health, security, communication,
energy and the environment.
The inaugural Fraunhofer-UD graduate student exchange program included, from left,
Maria Stössel, Carolin Hartwig, Peter Worthington, Elisabeth Bludau, Erin Crowgey and
Robert Kaspar. Photo by Lane McLaughlin
This spring, Fraunhofer and UD held their
first joint technology summit and launched
a graduate exchange program for selected
German students and UD students to
participate in research placements in energy
and biotechnology, at the University of
Delaware or working with Fraunhofer
researchers in Germany.
The first Fraunhofer exchange cohort
included German students Carolin Hartwig,
Elisabeth Bludau and Maria Stössel, and UD
students Robert Kaspar, Erin Crowgey and
Worthington, a UD doctoral student in
biomedical engineering, worked with a lab
group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell
Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig,
Germany, focused on using magnetic
particles and microfluidics to create
devices that can quickly display if a patient
has a disease without requiring sample
processing in a dedicated lab. "The chance
to work in an industry-focused lab was a
big advantage for me," said Worthington.
"It was interesting to work with the MRSA
device project, since it is quite different
from my own lab work and I would
probably not have otherwise learned
about the topic. Also, it is
exciting to be a part of an
"I very much appreciated the opportunity to work in an
atmosphere of internationality, interacting with other students
who have chosen to pursue their doctoral studies in the U.S. for
various reasons," said Bludau. "Gaining international experiences
is more important than ever, and not exclusively to improve
communication skills. Spending time abroad is definitely an
opportunity to look beyond the boundaries of your own
professional disciplines and to experience different approaches
for your particular research."
The University of Delaware partners with at least 15 universities
or organizations in China, representing collaborations and
projects across the UD campus. One notable example is the 2008
establishment of the Joint Institute for Coastal Research and
Management, a world-class global collaborative research initiative
by UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and Xiamen
University's College of Oceanography and Environmental Science.
In 2011, a dual Ph.D. program in oceanography was launched,
giving students the opportunity to earn their degree
simultaneously from both institutions if they study at least three
semesters at the other institution.
Chinese doctoral student Zhaoyun Chen officially became the
first Ph.D. candidate in the dual program after successfully
completing his oral qualifying exam in Xiamen this spring, where
both UD professors and Xiamen University professors
participated. Chen's research focuses on coastal upwelling.
Also capitalizing on the opportunities of the oceanography
partnership, UD marine biosciences doctoral graduate Emily
Maung-Douglass decided to pursue her postdoctoral research
at Xiamen. Working there in Professor Kejian Wang's lab, she is
examining gene expression to determine how the fish species
medaka copes with combined exposure to a low oxygen
environment and synthetic estrogen pollution, both of which
are often present in marine environments affected by
"It's a really cool thing to be able to think of your research in a
truly global way.... Do not let fear of the unknown or the logistics
of international research hold you back." said Maung-Douglass.
"My interactions with people here have given me a lot of insight
and perspective in dealing with environmental issues that I might
not have ever been exposed to otherwise."
Associate professors Nicole Donofrio of plant and soil sciences
and Greg Shriver of entomology and wildlife ecology were the
initial co-principal investigators on the grant, with projects
including research on rice blast fungus and coffee rust fungus,
both of which are
Teixeira, Silvino Intra
Moreira and Brenda
Neves Porto, as well
Maia from Brazil's University of Viçosa, have worked or are currently working in
Donofrio's lab on these projects.
During spring break and again this summer, UD animal science graduate student Allison Rogers worked at UFLA to secure future
collaborations for research on broiler chickens and to assist Carl
Schmidt, associate professor of animal and food sciences—who
has since joined the USDA grant—in his research on the global
genomic diversity of chickens. Rogers helped to collect genetic
samples from backyard chickens in Brazil, which will help aid
Schmidt's studies on the genomics of the common chicken and
how they respond to different environments, with the hope that
this genetic information will lead to flock improvement in the
Rogers noted that she saw similarities between UFLA and UD's
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, making for a seamless
collaborative environment. "UFLA is an agriculturally and historically
based university and so we felt very at home when we arrived."
A UD-UFLA symposium and "Brazil week" activities are being
planned for May 2014 in order to highlight projects and
interactions between UD and other universities in Brazil.
"Colombia is among the top three countries in South America in
higher education investment, and in total we have awarded more
than 25 M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at UD as part of this global
partnership," said UD's Gonzalo R. Arce, Charles Black Evans
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Arce, together with Hernan Navarro, research associate
professor in the College of Education and Human Development,
pioneered the UD-Colombian University partnership in 1997.
An annual exchange program brings Colombian scholars to UD
for a summer of research. Many of these outstanding students are
typically admitted to UD doctoral programs. The collaboration is
gradually expanding into other areas of engineering and into the College of Arts and Science.
This summer, 16 visiting
scholars from universities in
Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia
conducted research with UD
faculty as part of the College of
Engineering Summer Research
Program. The College of Engineering
now has formal agreements with a dozen
Colombian universities, and over 100
applications every year for its graduate programs.
Top Colombian scholars participate in a recent summer research exchange in the College of Engineering.
In Spring 2013, Henry Arguello, Cesar Duarte, and Ana Ramirez,
all faculty members at the Industrial University of Santander in
Colombia, earned doctoral degrees in electrical and computer
engineering at UD. Taking advantage of a program encouraging
faculty in Colombia to earn a Ph.D. in the U.S., they completed
their doctoral degrees here while on leaves of absence from their
university, and have since returned to their faculty positions.
The Colombia partnerships have since expanded to include a
musical collaboration with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in
Bogotá and will expand to other Colombian universities. In 2011
a delegation of UD music professors and alumni traveled to
Bogotá to perform a concert and to establish connections for
future collaborations and programs. This summer, nearly 70
student musicians from UD's Symphony Orchestra participated in
the orchestra's first international tour, performing with musicians
from Central University and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.
"It's an opportunity to immerse in another culture," said
orchestra director James Anderson. Long-term, he sees this three-year
cycle–of establishing a partnership in the first year, bringing
UD musicians overseas in the second, and bringing international
students to UD in the third–as a model to build relationships
across the world.
"This project is about perspective," said Anderson. "It's stepping
out of your comfort zone to become better performers, better
musicians and better citizens of the world."