Building on the relationship of College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES) faculty, the University of Delaware has signed a collaborative agreement with China’s Xiamen University (XMU). The agreement — which will involve teaching, research, and faculty and student exchanges — will support CMES’ existing collaborations with XMU and open the door for new ones.
“We are thrilled to formalize our partnership with Xiamen, a preeminent environmental and oceanographic institution in China,” said CMES Dean Nancy Targett. “This has been a mutually beneficial relationship up to this point, and this agreement will help extend UD’s collaborations and global research with a strong international institution.”
Several CMES faculty members have linkages with XMU that helped jumpstart the universities’ formal relationship. For example, Professor of Marine Biosciences David Kirchman is part of an XMU-based international program for marine biogeochemistry, and E.I DuPont Professor of Marine Studies Tom Church has served with XMU faculty on the organizing committee for the International Estuarine Biogeochemical Conference to be held in Xiamen in 2008.
Biliana Cicin-Sain, director of the Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy and Professor of Marine Policy, is a member of the advisory board of Xiamen’s Coastal Ocean Management Institute, which works with issues that bridge both the science and policy issues related to ocean and environment. The Institute is like the Mangone Center, which studies the legal, political and economic issues facing the ocean, seabed and coast.
Mary A.S. Lighthipe Professor of Oceanography Xiao-Hai Yan has perhaps the strongest ties with the institution. He has visited Xiamen several times, including one trip in which he gave a series of lectures and received a special distinction from XMU giving him an honorary distinguished scholar title.
He and his colleagues have pointed out that XMU’s College of Oceanography and Environmental Science has strengths in biogeochemistry, chemical oceanography, biological oceanography and coastal oceanography. The college also developed China’s first doctoral program in oceanography.
“We’re both leaders in ocean science,” Yan said about the two colleges, adding that the agreement is a “really natural development.”
Given both colleges’ strengths, student exchanges will be a highlight of the agreement, he said. CMES already is hosting XMU post-doctoral researchers, and Yan plans to begin sending his students to Xiamen to gather data and collaborate on research beginning this year. Xiamen university also plans to send more post-doctoral researchers and students to Delaware.
XMU’s College of Oceanography and Environmental Science is similar in size and research scope to CMES, which Yan and Targett noted when they visited Xiamen in June to discuss forming an official relationship. But they also noticed that XMU itself also shares many similarities with UD.
XMU, which was founded in 1921, has about 20,000 undergraduate students and 14,000 graduate students, and is highly ranked among universities in China.
“This agreement affords tremendous opportunities for students and faculty in many disciplines at both institutions,” Targett said of the university-level agreement. “The combination of the strengths of UD and Xiamen lead to limitless potential for significant collaborations in the sciences and humanities. I have no doubt that many productive efforts will come from this partnership.”
XMU and CMES are jumping into the agreement feet-first. In late October, Minhan Dai, associate dean of XMU’s College of Oceanography and Environmental Science, visited to discuss opportunities through the agreement and to give a seminar about his research on biogeochemical responses to ocean eddies. Dai is also director of the State Key Laboratory of Marine and Environmental Science, a national research lab known for its strength in biogeochemistry.
For Dai, the relationship with CMES and UD is an opportunity to learn from the other researchers’ experience. But it’s also a chance to unite two countries on topics that are critical to future generations.
“UD is seeking to become a global university and at the same time Xiamen is keen to develop interactive relationships with other universities,” he said. “We have a lot of similarities and share the same vision for the future.”