Number 40, Spring 2003

Research exchange program applicants triple

The second year of a new UC MEXUS-CONACYT program for sabbatical, faculty visits and post-doctoral researchers surprised the Institute with an avalanche of proposals – almost triple the number received six months earlier.

The three-pronged program was designed to boost bilateral research by increasing the contacts between UC and Mexican researchers.

“The only way to get successful collaboration is faculty-to-faculty interaction,” said Dr. Marlene de la Cruz, director of international programs at UC MEXUS.

But no one expected the program to take off quite so energetically. In 2002, the Institute funded half the 28 proposals received. This year there were 75 to select from. However, not only did the quantity increase, the quality did also, indicating the timeliness and potential of the program.

The three programs, whose costs are shared by UC MEXUS and CONACYT, provide for 20 postdoctoral grants (ten in Mexico and ten at UC), fourteen sabbatical stays divided evenly between Mexico and UC, and thirty quarters for faculty visits.

“These are life-altering fellowships,” de la Cruz said. “You are really talking about someone's entire career taking a different path.”

The postdoctoral grants are especially helpful to young Mexican researchers, de la Cruz said. The experience puts them in a very competitive position for faculty posts in Mexico.

“The research exchange program as a whole will also enhance the strong academic relations between both countries,” she said.

The Institute is hoping that the current support will lead to continued collaboration and consolidate institutional ties.

Next year, De la Cruz is looking to see an even broader range of fields, projects and researchers with same high quality she saw this year. In addition, she hopes to see an increase in the number of UC applicants wanting to go to Mexican research institutions.

“We still do not have an equal balance,” she said. “And the UC research community is losing out on a tremendous opportunity.”

2003 Applicants
A breakdown of the applicants to the three exchange programs shows a preponderance of applicants from Mexico and more applicants in the biomedical sciences as a whole than any other single group.
Program BSMP 1 BSOP 2 PSPS 3 PSEN 4 SSHU 5 Total
Postdoctoral 11 2 10 4 7 34
Faculty Visits 3 3 2 4 8 20
Sabbatical Stays 5 5 3 5 3 21
Total 19 10 15 13 18 75
Total from UCs 0 1 1 0 4 6
Total from Mexico 19 9 14 13 14 69

1 BSMB = Biomedical Sciences: Molecular/Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Health
2 BSOP = Biomedical Sciences: Organismal, Population Ecosystem and Agriculture
3 PSPS = Physical Sciences: Physics and Chemistry
4 PSEN = Physical Sciences: Engineering
5 SSHU = Social Sciences, Humanities