Amie K. Lund’s long-distance collaboration with a researcher in France was a modest one. They published a paper together, exchanging drafts by email. But Ms. Lund, who studies the effect of air pollution on the heart and brain, wanted to learn an innovative cell-culture technique that her colleague had developed in his lab, and, as she notes with a laugh, “You can’t just email a protocol.”
Thanks to a grant from the University of North Texas, where she is an assistant professor of biological sciences, Ms. Lund was able to spend a week in Paris this spring. Not only did she pick up the technique, but the two scientists brainstormed new projects and made plans to exchange students. After she gave a presentation on her work, Ms. Lund was approached by several more potential research partners. “It opened up new pathways,” she says of going abroad.
Ms. Lund’s time in France was supported by a new program to encourage North Texas faculty members to do global research, a joint effort of the university’s international and research offices.
But higher-education observers say that such collaboration is far from common. Hampered by traditional organizational silos, turf battles, or just plain inaction, offices that oversee research and those responsible for institutions’ global strategy too often fail to identify and work toward shared goals.
It’s a missed opportunity in an era when research and researchers alike increasingly cross borders—one-quarter of all scientific papers now have co-authors from two or more countries, according to the National Science Foundation. And at research universities in particular, campus efforts to internationalize may ring hollow if they don’t have research at their core. <Read more.>