UGPN Mini-Conference establishes future priorities for the network

Thursday 27 September 2012

The UGPN Mini-Conference held at Surrey from Wednesday 12 to Friday 14 September identified a set of priorities for the future work of the network.

The mini-conference began with keynote presentations from each of the UGPN partners. Dr Terri Lomax, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at NC State, outlined her university’s approach to research and innovation;  Dr Malcolm von Schantz, Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International Relations) and Dr Phil Costen, Bid Support Manager at the University of Surrey, outlined a  range of funding opportunities for bilateral and multilateral collaboration; and Professor José Carlos Mierzwa from the University of São Paulo (USP) analysed potential solutions to the problems of water scarcity in urban areas.   

During the conference, the UGPN’s Executive Committee met to discuss the UGPN’s future strategy.  The committee agreed that:

• The series of doctoral seminars – begun so successfully with the climate change seminar at NC State in July 2012– will continue with a water security seminar to be held at USP in July 2013, and a public health seminar at Surrey in July 2014.

• Following the success of the first call for UGPN Research Collaboration Fund proposals, a second call will open on 1 October, with an application deadline of 15 November and results anticipated by 15 January. Resubmission of improved bids that were unsuccessful in the previous round are invited and encouraged.  This will provide up to eight new grants for novel collaborations between academics at the three UGPN partners

• Information will be disseminated amongst NC State and University of Surrey staff about the opportunities offered by USP’s new visiting academic scheme, which will be open to international researchers

• The website will be revamped to make it an even more valuable tool for staff at each of the partners.

Across the three days of the conference, there were meetings and workshops during which academics from the three partners discussed areas of mutual research interest, and developed plans for future collaboration.  The research areas discussed included: cardiovascular disease; global health issues; smart materials and biosensors; electronic and mechanical engineering; corporate governance; tourism management; and mathematics.

Commenting on the conference, Dr. Bailian Li, Vice Provost for International Affairs at NC State and Chair of the UGPN said: "The UGPN meeting at the University of Surrey was a great success in terms of advancing opportunities for collaboration as well as building upon the seed funding program to promote joint research activities, which can leverage bids for additional external grants and lead to publication."