Princeton and Oxford build on strengths

Princeton NJ -- Oxford and Princeton universities April 24 announced a major collaboration that will create new research partnerships, increase faculty and student exchanges, and provide opportunities to share resources required for cutting-edge, scientific ventures.

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The initiative builds on longstanding relationships between two universities renowned for leadership in research across the academic disciplines and for excellence in undergraduate education.

Research partnerships will be initiated in the humanities and social sciences, as well as in the natural sciences and engineering, where the need for specialized equipment is particularly acute.

In addition to identifying and encouraging specific research partnerships, the universities are planning to establish a significant exchange of students, including undergraduates. The universities will make special efforts to include in this exchange students in the sciences, mathematics and engineering -- areas in which study abroad generally has been more difficult to arrange.

"Research and learning increasingly are global endeavors, involving collaboration among faculty members and students from around the world," said President Shapiro. "This new program will create important new opportunities and synergies by drawing on the complementary strengths and perspectives of faculty and students at two of the world's leading universities."

Oxford University Vice Chancellor Colin Lucas said, "Our two universities are remarkably similar in goals and strengths, with shared traditions and priorities and many existing connections. We are confident that this agreement will help make both institutions even stronger."

The collaboration was approved by the trustees of Princeton University on April 21 and by the council of the University of Oxford on April 23.

Leaders of the two universities noted that academic research today often requires access to costly or specialized equipment and facilities, and benefits from collaboration within and across disciplines.

Beginning in the 2001-02 academic year, a joint committee of the two universities will designate research projects that take advantage of complementary intellectual and physical resources available at Oxford and Princeton.

Twelve collaborative research projects provisionally have been identified, in fields spanning nanotechnology, astrophysics, genomics, and stone and art preservation. Participating researchers will include some of the most senior scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.

University leaders believe the initiative will enhance research by bringing together scholars with different perspectives and approaches, and improve teaching by increasing interaction among undergraduate and graduate students from different cultures. The collaboration also will help maximize resources at both universities by defraying costs of shared facilities and opening access to additional sources of funding, including international foundations, multinational corporations, American and British government and, possibly, European Union sources.

While the agreement marks a unique collaboration of significant scope, the connections between Oxford and Princeton already are extensive and growing. Numerous Princeton faculty members and research scientists have studied or spent time at Oxford, and vice versa. Active research collaborations between the two universities already are under way in English, history, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Princeton undergraduates now study regularly at Worcester and Hertford Colleges at Oxford, while Oxford graduate students frequently study at Princeton as Procter Fellows.

Last year, Oxford and Princeton were among the founders of a $12 million Web-based learning venture that will provide online courses, interactive seminars, multimedia programs, topical Web sites with links to research information, and live and taped coverage of campus speakers and events.

The topics of the 12 research projects provisionally identified and the Princeton faculty members involved are:

• History of the book, Robert Darnton
• Culture and religions of the Eastern Mediterranean, Fritz Graf
• Materials, Anthony Evans
• Astrophysics, Scott Tremaine
• Bio-inorganic chemistry, John Groves
• Stone conservation, George Scherer
• Mathematics, Philip Holmes
• Environmental technology, Peter Jaffe
• Transmission of infectious diseases, Andrew Dobson
• Nanotechnology and semiconductor physics, Ravindra Bhatt
• Nanotechnology and chem-bio-engineering, William Russel
• Genomics and bioinformatics, Shirley Tilghman


April 30, 2001
Vol. 90, No. 26
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