Yale, Brazil partnership to fund science

Yale has teamed up with the Brazilian government to provide educational and funding opportunities for Brazilian students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Members of Yale’s faculty and administration and Brazilian officials met on Oct. 25 to announce Yale’s new partnership with Science Without Borders, an initiative run and funded primarily by Brazil’s federal government. By 2014, the program intends to qualify 100,000 Brazilian undergraduate and graduate students for the opportunity and financial means to study sciences abroad. As a participating university, Yale will accept students and visiting faculty from Brazil to a variety of its programs in the sciences.

Science Without Borders will provide advantages for Yale students and faculty as well, said School of Medicine pediatrics professor Michael Cappello. Yale faculty will be able to apply for funding from Science Without Borders to do collaborative projects with researchers in Brazil.

“There are opportunities at many levels — student, postdoctoral fellow and faculty — for engagement between researchers at Yale and researchers in Brazil, so I think it’s an outstanding program,” Cappello said.

Brazil’s government is looking for ways to train scientists and engineers beyond the capacity of its own universities to fill the demands of the country’s rapidly growing economy. In 2011, the government announced that Science Without Borders will spend $2 billion by the end of 2014 on 75,000 scholarships to send Brazilian science students abroad. The grants made available to Brazilian students by Science Without Borders will fund most Brazilian participants for up to 12 months of study or research work in a foreign institution. The program also provides grants to fully fund Ph.D. students earning a degree abroad. Universities in countries including France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are also participants in the program.

The bulk of Yale’s participants in Science Without Borders will be graduate students and faculty, alongside research cooperation with Brazilian universities. Yale genetics and cell biology professor Lynn Cooley said in an email that the Yale’s biological and biomedical sciences department will accept applications from Brazilian students to participate in any of its 12 Ph.D. programs.

“However, Science Without Borders is brand new, so we do not yet know how many students will end up in biology and biomedical sciences programs,” she said.

Cappello, who was present at the ceremony announcing Yale’s participation in the program, said he looks forward tothe new partnership.

“They demonstrate that Brazil recognizes its both obligation and opportunity to train first-rate scientists, and they recognize that doing so in partnership with an institution like Yale will allow them to accelerate that process,” he said.

Yale has relationships with universities in Brazil that predate Science Without Borders. For the past four summers, Cappello himself has played a major role in running a School of Medicine program that has hosted three to five graduate students or post-doctoral fellows from the University of São Paulo to conduct research.

Though Yale anticipates participating in this exchange, there is some uncertainty regarding how some of the program’s logistics will work.

“We are eager to have more Brazilian students in our department. It will take some time however to work out how the mechanisms in the SWB program fit with our research and degree programs,” said professor Holly Rushmeier, chair of Yale’s Computer Science Department, in an email.

Cappello expressed similar sentiments about how the new agreement with Brazil will work in practice.

“It’s actually quite a broad-based program. Some of these initiatives may be more easily adapted to Yale’s existing structures, some of them may require some degree of adjustment or negotiation,” he said.

Brazil produces 30,000 engineers a year, according to a March issue of The Economist.

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