International visitors enrich grad student experience
An international research and education program in the Department of Chemistry is giving graduate students access to world-renowned researchers, most recently Mitsuo Sawamoto of Kyoto University.
“In chemistry, there are no boundaries. Everything is global,” says Dr. Sawamoto, a leading researcher in the field of polymer science. “Face-to-face interactions are necessary to understand each other and avoid misunderstandings or prejudices.”
The Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program in Chiral Materials, led by Chemistry professor Cathleen Crudden, launched in 2010 with $1.57-million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Each year three guest lecturers visit Queen’s, allowing graduate students the opportunity to interact with scientists from different cultural backgrounds.
“Visits by renowned researchers such as Dr. Sawamoto strengthen our international ties and collaborations and really put Queen’s on the map,” says Michael Cunningham, a member of the CREATE program and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “I hope students were inspired by Dr. Sawamoto and his extensive academic accomplishments.”
During his visit, Dr. Sawamoto delivered three lectures as part of a credit course and students wrote an exam based on that material. Dr. Sawamoto also participated in department seminars and met with faculty members to exchange ideas.
Dr. Sawamoto invited Dr. Cunningham and Cathleen Crudden, principal investigator and director of the CREATE program, to Kyoto University in the past year to share their research. Their research connection has opened new opportunities abroad for graduate students. PhD candidate Elijah Bultz spent last summer studying under Dr. Sawamoto with support of an NSERC graduate scholarship and fellowship.
The CREATE program aims to advance the study of chiral material – molecules that are not superimposable on their mirror image – while transforming the graduate student experience. The students develop a global understanding of science and science ethics through unique required courses and international travel opportunities. They also develop their professional skills in leadership, research management and teaching.
The program will welcome Dr. Patrick Bataile from l’Université d’Angers in November and Dr. Kenneth Järrendahl from Linköping University in the spring.