University News

U. forges research partnership in Brazil

Contributing Writer


The University signed a memorandum of understanding to form a partnership with the Insituto Nacional de Matemática, a preeminent mathematics research institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 26. The collaboration, funded by a donation from a Brown parent, will promote research collaborations, conferences and exchanges between Brown and IMPA over the next three years.

This partnership is the “first official collaboration” for the University with mathematics in Brazil, said Bjorn Sandstede, professor of applied mathematics, and it is Brown’s second formal collaboration in mathematics overseas. In 2007, Brown established an academic affiliation with the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris.

The collaboration between Brown and IMPA is broader because it will involve postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and faculty exchanges, Sandstede said.

The partnership does not involve undergraduate students at this stage, though Sandstede said he is hopeful that the program will expand as Brown and IMPA continue their dialogue.

Exchanges will begin this year between the two institutions. Approximately 20 faculty members and students from Brown will travel to IMPA for a period of one to three weeks, while 12 to 15 faculty members and students from IMPA will visit Brown for one week to four months. These initial exchanges will help members of each institution get to know each other and gauge potential for expansion of the program, Sandstede said.

The collaboration will be funded on a donation of roughly $200,000 each year for three years, to be split equally between Brown and IMPA. The donor, a Brown parent, is from Brazil and “thinks very highly” of IMPA, Sandstede said.

In the past few years, the University has increased efforts to recruit international students, encourage study abroad for undergraduates and forge partnerships with research institutions overseas as it moves towards internationalization.

Brown has been a global university for a long time, wrote Matthew Gutmann P’14, vice president for international affairs, in an email to The Herald. The University is continuing to deepen and expand its network of global collaborations “because the best scientists, scholars and students are found in all parts of the world,” Gutmann wrote.

Gutmann was appointed vice president for international affairs in 2009, succeeding the inaugural vice president, David Kennedy ’76, who took the position in 2008. The position was created as part of a series of initiatives to boost the University’s international profile, endorsed by the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

Among other measures, the Corporation authorized an increase in financial aid resources for international students as part of an October 2006 discussion about the University’s role in international higher education.

Since then, Brown has maintained its commitment to global understanding and international advancement. The “Year of” series, beginning for 2007-08 with the Year of Latin America and followed by the Year of Africa, Year of India and Year of China, is one example of the University’s sustained efforts to make connections across the world. Brown will continue “deepening and expanding its collaborations and exchanges with top institutions worldwide,” Gutmann wrote.

Sandstede noted that increasing internationalization gives more freedom to students pursuing research opportunities abroad. He said in addition to providing a richer academic base for studying mathematics, the partnership between IMPA and Brown will foster “a great environment for getting to know different cultures.”

Brown has signed agreements with more than 100 universities, institutions and research centers across the world. “The more of these links we have, the better,” Sandstede said.