Innovation exchange in the Americas

In September, Montclair State hosted a delegation of students and faculty from Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile, as part of a new study and research exchange program created by a U.S. Department of State innovation grant for President Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative.”

Montclair State is one of nine universities to receive grants from the U.S. Department of State initiative that is funded by the Santander Universities division of Santander Bank, N.A., and promotes study-abroad exchanges in the Americas.

According to Carlos Molina, the grant project director and a Montclair State biology and molecular biology professor, Universidad Mayor’s strong biotechnology program makes it an ideal partner for this exchange in part because Chile is a biotechnology leader in South America.

The universities have developed a collaborative biotechnology course for this year’s six Universidad Mayor and seven Montclair State student participants.

During their visit to the University, the Chilean group attended mini courses in biotechnology research methods, as well as workshops and seminars, and visited pharmaceutical companies.

The visit launched collaborative research projects between students from both schools. Research results will be presented when Montclair State students and faculty mentors travel to Chile in January 2015.

“The biggest benefit to all the students is the fact that this first meeting was an important step in establishing inter-national collaborations,” says Molina. “The Chilean students are already talking about coming to the U.S. for graduate school. One of them is interested in joining my lab as a doctoral student. Some of our students have told me they already see the possibility of studying in South America.”

“The results exceeded all expectations, particularly in the way students and faculty interacted and learned from each other,” says Marina Cunningham, executive director of international affairs at Montclair State’s Global Education Center.

Molina hopes to receive additional funding from the National Science Foundation to develop a robust scientific collaboration with Universidad Mayor.