Mobilizing across borders to address global challenges | MIT News

For the most creative minds to work together to solve the world’s greatest challenges, it is essential that global collaboration is not hindered by distance. The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) Global Seed Funds (GSF) program enables teams of participating faculty to collaborate across borders with international partners to develop and launch joint research projects.

The MISTI GSF includes a general fund, open to all countries, and a number of funds specific to a country, region or university. The resulting partnerships provide access to environmental resources, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, and insights not available on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. The GSF has been making global research partnerships possible since 2008.

“[Our] the collaboration has been extremely fruitful,” says Mark Jarzombek, 2018 Israel Fund laureate and professor of architectural history and theory at MIT. “The insights and knowledge brought to architecture students, both by local experts and particularly in the field of archeology, enabled them to approach the project from a disciplinary point of view and perspective unique.”

Ellen Roche, WM Keck Career Development Professor of Biomedical Engineering at MIT, had a similar experience with her 2018 collaboration with Spain: “Sending prototypes from one country to another and communicating the transfer of manufacturing was sometimes hard. However, working with Jose and his team has been invaluable for their expertise in particle image velocimetry.

The 27 funds that make up the MISTI GSF 2021-22 cycle have awarded more than $1.6 million to 75 projects from 20 departments across all schools of the Institute. This year’s awards bring the total amount to $22.6 million to fund 1,113 projects over the 14-year life of the program. This year, new funds have helped MIT professors collaborate more in Eastern Europe; the funds in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia met with a large number of enthusiastic applicants. Over 70% of all MIT faculty members have submitted a GSF proposal, many of which have received multiple awards.

“We applied for [another] Global Seed Fund to facilitate a similar project in Berlin,” shares Jarzombek. “We hope to expand the scope and goals of the method we have developed and continue to examine and explore its pedagogical and scholarly implications for the field of architectural history and pedagogy in various sites across the world.”

Faculty start-up funds also provide meaningful educational opportunities for students. The majority of GSF teams are made up of students, contributing both to the Institute’s educational mission and its commitment to fostering cross-cultural learning.

“It was my intuition when I [applied for a] GSF project that we need to engage students,” says Antoine Allanore, associate professor of metallurgy at MIT, about his collaboration in the UK in 2017. “It’s the way to make it a meaningful experience for all .”

In addition to developing their expertise, students are often able to contribute at a high level to the innovative research of the faculty member. “Two of [our] the students were extremely involved and helpful in the fieldwork and site investigation,” says Jarzombek. “We couldn’t have achieved what we have without them.”

By helping to unite the best scholars around the world to solve the most pressing critical problems, GSF fosters lasting ties between MIT and other leading research institutes. Most GSF projects have often resulted in published research, and many have leveraged early results to secure additional research funding.

“We are submitting a paper this year on work on single ventricle disease, and we have also recently started a collaboration with another group in Barcelona,” explains Roche. The collaborators also obtained additional funding from La Caixa Bank and submitted an additional application to the National Science Foundation.

“[Our] highly successful seed grant resulted in publication at premier bioinformatics conference and award-winning BSF [United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation] grant proposal,” says Bonnie Berger, Simons Professor of Mathematics at MIT and 2020 Israel Fund recipient.

The next call for proposals will take place in mid-September. “Now that global travel has almost fully reopened, we expect even more applications next year,” says Alicia Raun, Deputy Director of MISTI. “We can’t wait to see what innovative ideas our professors bring to us next. »

MISTI is MIT’s hub for global experiences, delivering immersive international programs that bring MIT’s unique learning model to life in countries around the world. MISTI enables students and faculty to make cultural connections, impact the world, and gain valuable insights that inform their education, career, and worldview.

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