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Program to bring Singaporeans to Illinois to pursue doctoral studies

Jeff Unger, News Bureau


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign today (June 28) signed an agreement with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore – known as A*STAR. Under terms of the agreement, as many as 15 students funded by A*STAR will pursue doctoral studies under the supervision of U. of I. faculty members and A*STAR researchers. The students, who will spend about two years in Singapore and an equal amount of time in Illinois, will earn U. of I. degrees. They will be studying science, technology and biomedicine.

Among those from the Urbana campus attending the signing ceremony in Singapore were Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus; Charles Zukoski, vice chancellor for research; Richard Wheeler, dean of the graduate college; Edmund Seebauer, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and lecturer Asghar Mirarefi, assistant to the head of the chemical and biomolecular engineering department.

“This program will foster close collaboration with researchers from Singapore and provide our campus with the opportunity to contribute to the technological and economic growth of the U.S. and Singapore,” Herman said. “This expansion of the university’s presence in Singapore will produce students who will take leadership roles in advancing multinational corporations.”

Philip Yeo, the chairman of A*STAR, led the delegation of agency representatives attending the signing ceremonies.

Herman and Yeo had signed a memorandum of understanding Jan. 6, 2005, establishing the U. of I. partnership with A*STAR.

A*STAR comprises the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), Exploit Technologies Ltd., the A*STAR Graduate Academy and the Corporate Planning and Administration Division.

Both BMRC and SERC promote, support and oversee the public sector research and development activities in Singapore. Both councils fund the A*STAR public research institutes that conduct cutting-edge research in science, engineering and biomedical science.

The agreement is the latest in a series of collaborations between the Urbana campus and Singapore. The U. of I. and the National University of Singapore signed an agreement in Singapore in February 2004 creating a joint doctoral program in chemical engineering.

That program was the result of a close collaboration between the NUS department of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the Illinois department of chemical and biomolecular engineering. The collaboration began in 1997 when the two departments began to explore ways in which they might cooperate in teaching and research.