San Diego State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography have received a new award from the US Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) and their Brazilian counterpart, the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) to support educational exchange of US and Brazilian students. The new award is focused on developing interactions that will promote a better understanding of the marine environment, with an emphasis on the Brazilian coastal region. The award was spearheaded by Prof. Rob Edwards at San Diego State University and Dr. Fabiano Thompson at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. As part of the award, the team will jointly teach a course delivered to students in the United States and Brazil. The course will teach participants scientific approaches for studying the changes that occur in the coastal environment.
Brazil has an extensive coast that is over 7,000 km (4,000 miles) long, with a variety of habitats. It is a unique environment that deserves scientific focus to enhance our understanding of the life that is there and to protect the valuable Brazilian resources. As part of the award, Brazilian students will travel to San Diego to study with researchers at SDSU and SIO. They will learn the latest techniques in marine biology that are used to study our coastal environment. Likewise, Students from San Diego will travel to Brazil to study the coral reefs of the coast off the Brazilian State of Bahia, and work with researchers at several universities including the Federal Universities of Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, and Paraíba. Students will also be able to work at the botanical gardens of Rio de Janeiro, the oldest botanical gardens in Latin America.
In the words of Thompson, “We are really excited with this opportunity to work with SDSU and SIO. The Brazilian coast is an amazing natural resource that we need to protect and understand. This project will enable students from both countries to study our coral reefs”.
The award is designed to promote exchange of students between the two countries and to enhance the cultural understanding of students from both countries. Edwards noted “Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, and in certain aspects of environmental stewardship they are ahead of the United States. We are already playing catch-up to their biofuels program, for example. The Brazilian connection brings new ideas and technologies to our students, as well as enriching them culturally”.
This is only the sixth FIPSE grant that SDSU has received, and the first to provide our students with the opportunity to study and perform research in Brazil.