AFOSR international collaboration effort gets results

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Air Force Research Laboratory's basic research directorate, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) hosted the International Basic Research Infrastructure Meeting from Nov 12-13, 2015 at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C.  This effort was made possible with the support and collaboration of the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C. and the National Research Council of Italy.

The meeting was coordinated by Mr. Giulio Busulini, Scientific Attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. and Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon, AFOSR International Program Officer.

The purpose of the event was to explore basic science partnerships by leveraging international investments in global research infrastructure.  The effort was a joint action item of the Advanced Materials Working Groups of the US-Italy and US-South Africa Joint Commission Meetings; and the Enabling Technologies Working Groups of the US-Australia Joint Commission Meeting.

International participants included the National Research Council of Italy, Italian Aerospace Research Centre, Australian National Fabrication Facility, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the Minerals Research Laboratory of South Africa.  US participants from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, NASA Glenn Research Center, Naval Research Laboratory, Army Research Laboratory and Air Force Research Laboratory were in attendance.  There was also representation from Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, and Virginia Tech University.

A variety of topics were presented including the importance of international collaborations, overviews of scientific infrastructures of Italy and Australia, and global innovation.

Sharing ideas was a key component of the meeting.  Professor Luigi Ambrosio, Director, Department of Chemistry and Materials Technology National Research Council of Italy encouraged the imperativeness of international collaboration on science and technology.   Of the meeting Ambrosio said, "Integration of infrastructures is a key strategy to foster collaboration, knowledge and create new skills for future society. The National Research Council of Italy is very strongly committed to pursue this strategy. The International Basic Research Infrastructure Meeting has been a great occasion to share the appropriate approach in developing a methodology to implement a successful way to reach a real international infrastructure integration."

Creating opportunities was another benefit resulting from the meeting.  Participant, Mrs. Rosie Hicks, Chief Executive Officer, Australian National Fabrication Facility said, "The meeting has enabled us to identify areas of common research effort. This international collaboration will open new pathways for our researchers to share ideas and allow each of us to leverage our national investments in research infrastructure to address global challenges in areas as diverse as health, energy and security."

Dr. Makhapa Makhafola, Research and Development Manager at the MINTEK National Science Council of South Africa, was impressed with the momentum for action propelled by the meeting.  "A meeting should be about commitment and expansion on collaborative projects and this workshop really lived up to the expectation.  At the meeting a decision was made that an Institute on High Temperature Materials will be developed among the four countries (United States, Australia, South Africa and Italy) and indeed the establishment of the Institute will take place in May 2016 at Texas A&M University (TAMU).

Makhafola also shared that MINTEK and Virginia Tech University submitted a Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) funding proposal in January 2016. "This shows the significance of the workshop held and the actual outcomes," said Makhafola.

While this meeting will serve as a catalyst for the building blocks of international collaborations among scientists concerned with basic research efforts, it illustrates the importance of reaching out to the global community.

Co-organizer, Dr. Bin-Salamon said the meeting was a success and added, "The openness and patience of everyone involved are necessary to create innovative opportunities in basic science. By leveraging our resources in collaboration, we plan to craft partnerships that are essential for future discoveries. As we build the relationships, the rest will follow."

ABOUT AFOSR: The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, located in Arlington, Virginia, continues to expand the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Air Force's basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFOSR's mission is to discover, shape and champion basic science that profoundly impacts the future Air Force. Through its international enterprise AFOSR supports the Air Force science and technology community by identifying foreign technological capabilities and accomplishments that can be applied to Air Force needs.

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