“Southampton is a natural partner for us, since it is the largest oceanographic institution in England,” said Bruce Corliss, dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography. “They’ve got ships and marine facilities and a strong, diverse faculty, just as we do. And there is also a mutual interest in studying the Atlantic.”
“We are excited about this new initiative that will benefit our researchers and foster new collaborations,” said Rachel Mills, head of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton. “Ph.D. programs in the UK are short and intensive compared with the U.S., and student exchanges will significantly broaden the student experience and enhance their future careers.”
Following a year of discussions and preliminary visits, the collaboration was formalized this month with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two universities. Corliss and URI President David Dooley met with Southampton officials last summer, and additional discussions were held at a scientific conference in December.
The agreement leaves open the possibility of expanding the relationship in the future to a wide variety of academic disciplines beyond oceanography.
The partnership will begin this summer with a faculty exchange program that will involve two URI scientists visiting the National Oceanographic Centre Southampton and one scientist from Southampton traveling to Narragansett.
The first exchange will take place Aug. 1 through 7 when Dwight Coleman, a marine research scientist and director of the Inner Space Center at the URI Bay Campus, will visit the University of Southampton. He manages the URI telepresence technology, which broadcasts live images of oceanographic research from ships around the world to the Inner Space Center. Coleman will explore the possibility of implementing the technologies on the ships operated by the University of Southampton to expand the network of research vessels that broadcast their activities to the Inner Space Center.
Later in the summer, Associate Professor Chris Roman will travel to Southampton to meet with scientists about research collaborations on robotics instrumentation. And Southampton scientist Jonathan Copley, associate professor of marine ecology, will visit URI to discuss research on deep-sea biology, hydrothermal vents and chemosynthetic ecosystems and develop closer links with the Inner Space Center.
According to Corliss, the relationship with the University of Southampton could grow to include semester-long faculty and student exchanges, joint research projects, and other mutually beneficial activities.
“They have research activities that mirror just about everything we do, so I think this is a great opportunity,” Corliss said.