Washington University in St. Louis: McDonnell International Scholars Academy names new partner

Washington University in St. Louis’ McDonnell International Scholars Academy recently announced a new partner university. In an online session, WashU researchers and leadership welcomed the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to the group that includes universities on five continents, all linked by a deep commitment to excellence in education, research and collaboration.

“International partnerships are key for Washington University,” said Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs. “The most important research discoveries are made by bringing together experts who share unique perspectives, data and expertise, no matter where they are in the world. That’s how we will best address important global problems — together.”

IISc — located in Bengaluru, India — joins more than 30 other universities that comprise the academy, including three in India: the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Together, all of the collaborative institutions conduct research that addresses important global challenges and educates the next generation of leaders and scientists.

IISc’s entry into the McDonnell Academy builds upon long-standing relationships. Shantanu Chakrabartty, the Clifford W. Murphy Professor and vice dean for research and graduate education at WashU’s McKelvey School of Engineering, initially helped connect the two universities. Their partnership was first formalized two years ago in an academic research agreement that included the engineering faculty and colleagues at IISc.

“Every great initiative requires someone who takes a leap of faith to make it happen, and, in this case, it was really Shantanu,” said Aaron Bobick, dean of the McKelvey School of Engineering and the James M. McKelvey Professor. “The DNA of IISc is so well-aligned to the DNA of WashU — this is not a forced fit at all. These collaborations are self-accelerating and are incredibly relevant right now.”

Along with their engineering colleagues, faculty members from Arts & Sciences also will collaborate with IISc to further advance research around three main topics where both universities have deep academic expertise:

neuromorphic engineering — building devices to mimic neurobiological systems and better understand how the brain works;
quantum materials, devices and sensing — gaining a deeper knowledge of the unique properties displayed by materials that don’t adhere to the laws of classical physics and harnessing those properties; and
collaboration in cyber-physical systems — focusing on smart infrastructure systems and the computing and sensing that makes them possible.
“At WashU, we are all about building bridges — not building walls — when it comes to international activities,” said Feng Sheng Hu, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. “Together with IISc, I think we’re taking a significant step to make the world a better place.”

“This partnership is so important,” said Rajesh Sundraresan, professor of electrical and electronic engineering at IISc. “It’s going to bring together great minds and we’ll be able to work on new solutions — together — that we might not have come up with by ourselves.”

As part of the academy, IISc and WashU also will hold joint workshops, sponsor faculty and student visits, and continue their collaborative research. Graduate and professional students from IISc also will be considered for acceptance as McDonnell International Academy scholars.

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