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UB Reporter

Internationalization Fund back in business

By PATRICIA DONOVAN

Published January 7, 2013

The Office of International Education has announced that Provost Charles F. Zukoski has authorized the relaunch of the Faculty Internationalization Fund (FIF), a popular initiative that from 2009-11 provided travel grants to dozens of UB faculty members to assist them in developing new, sustainable initiatives with institutional partners overseas.

The application deadline for the initial 2013 funding cycle is Feb. 1; deadlines for future grant rounds are May 1 and Oct. 1. For additional information and an application, visit the FIF Web page. 

The FIF provides travel grants of $500, $1,000 and $2,000 to help defray the cost of recipients’ short-term visits to partner institutions to initiate study abroad programs and exchanges, develop of new courses with global content and establish international research collaborations.

“The fund was established in 2009 at the recommendation of the university’s Strategic Internationalization Task Group to facilitate global engagement by UB faculty members,” says John Wood, senior associate vice provost for international education. “Since then, 33 faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences and most UB professional schools have received FIF grants.

“The fund was fully expended more than a year ago and since then, we have been unable to make awards,” Wood explains, “but we want the faculty to know that FIF is operating again and remind them that the grants do not support one-time trips to international conferences, for instance, but were established to promote sustainable international engagement.”

He says the experience of FIF grant recipient Edward Snell, assistant professor of structural biology and a senior scientist at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI), demonstrates the effectiveness of the FIF grants in promoting such engagement.

Snell received a grant in 2010 to facilitate his collaboration with Arwen Pearson, a United Kingdom Research Council (RCUK) Academic Research Fellow in Protein Structure, Modeling and Design at the University of Leeds.

The grant permitted Snell to visit Pearson overseas, whereupon the two collaborated on a joint proposal to obtain a $70,000 UK/U.S. partnering award from the British government.

The award made possible a number of collaborations on protein complexes and viruses, a series of exchanges by U.S. and UK students, and a meeting on the topic of biodynamics—the study of physical motion in living systems—at HWI last July.

Snell says he and Pearson have been able to attract a diverse group of experimentalists and theoreticians to the exploration of problems, frontiers and opportunities in the biodynamics field.

“These include a mix of X-ray crystallographers, NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) experts and SAXS (small-angle X-ray scattering) specialists, along with those using complementary techniques, such as cryo-EM (cryo-electron microscopy), and UV (ultraviolet-visible) and THz (terahertz) spectroscopy,” he says.

“They also include members of the modeling community who use ab initio approaches that make use of experimental data, and those who are developing experimental tools that may help probe this area,” says Snell, who notes the importance of the fact that this international mix of scientists includes many leading names in their fields.

Adds Wood: “Dr. Snell’s experience illustrates the significant multiplier effect of an FIF grant. It helped him jump-start a very productive, mutually beneficial and long-term collaboration with colleagues and laboratories in the U.S., the UK and Holland.

“It also helped make possible his development of still another proposal to the Human Frontier Science Program,” Wood says, “a program supported by 13 countries and the European Union that funds basic research in life sciences, particularly that involving collaborations among scientists working in different countries and different disciplines.”

From 2009 to May 2011, UB FIF grants supported study tours, collaborative research and course development in such fields as visual studies, South Asian studies, educational leadership, architecture, geography, structural biology, biomedical engineering, physics, theater and dance, volcanology, library studies, biostatistics, media study, social work, computer science and engineering, learning and instruction, Romance language and literatures, law, urban planning, medicine, history, geology, geography, comparative literature and anthropology.

This work involved collaborating partners in India, Ireland, Scotland, France, Estonia, Spain, the UK, China, Singapore, Brazil, South Korea, Tanzania, Japan, Haiti, Australia, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Chile.