The University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) and William & Mary’s math department are partnering to collaborate in research and promote exchanges between undergraduates and faculty of both universities.
Chi-Kwong Li, a mathematics professor at William & Mary, is a leading force in creating ties between the two universities. The sister university relationship between the two institutions was established in December 2010. Li visited UESTC in early 2012 to promote relations between the universities and interact with faculty and undergraduates through lectures and meetings.
Li said the purpose of the trip was to exchange experiences in math research and education, as well as discuss possible future collaborative activities. Li gave multiple lectures describing his research and talking about his experience with freshman seminars and undergraduate research programs.
While at the university, Li met with faculty members, administrators and students to discuss future plans and come up with ideas for future collaborations. The group came up with the idea of exchanging professors for a semester, allowing visiting professors to teach a course, participate in joint research and advise students. Another idea was to allow undergraduate and graduate students to participate in an exchange program where they would be encouraged to do joint research at the university they are visiting.
Li was able to not only share his research with students at UESTC, but also how research and educational styles differ between the two universities.
“These activities allow both sides to have a better understanding of the culture, values, and working styles of the two institutions to facilitate future collaborations,” said Li. “Colleagues and students at UESTC have a better understanding of William & Mary, and will be able to catalyze the pace of collaborations of the two institutions.”
After Li spoke about his research, professors at UESTC made plans to work with Li in the future.
“They are now studying some references, and some colleagues plan to apply for funding to visit W&M for a year to work with me,” said Li.
According to Li, exchanges may take place as early as 2013. William & Mary has also announced fellowships for students to visit UESTC for a semester.
Li believes the key to the success of this collaboration is that both universities place a high value on going global with their research. Li said it is beneficial to work with people of varied backgrounds and perspectives in order to develop new insights and approach problems in different ways.
“With global perspective, it is easier for people to understand each other, collaborate, and advance research,” said Li.