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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Academics & Research

UH, TSU strengthen relationship


UH and Texas Southern University have signed a memorandum of understanding in order to solidify the relationship between the two universities through collaborated research and opportunities for their respective students. 

“For our purposes, a MOU is used to express mutual goals and a commitment to work together going forward,” UH Division of Research Communications Coordinator Amanda Hosey said. 

“By signing an official document, both institutions are solidifying their efforts to strengthen existing academic and research collaborations and seek out new opportunities.”

Although it is not impossible for two or more universities to work together without an MOU, the processes of research collaborations, partnerships and sharing grants are simplified with the explicit agreement.

“An MOU is important to funding agencies that are interested in supporting research undertaken by faculty at one or more universities, which sometimes indicates the importance of the research,” TSU Associate Provost Elizabeth Brown-Guillory said.

 “Sunny Ohia, provost and vice president for academic affairs and research at TSU, began discussions with (UH Vice President for Research) Donald Birx nearly a year ago to establish a formal relationship to partner on research projects between TSU and UH.” 

The memorandum also allows either university access to resources such as grants with prerequisites that one or the other previously did not meet without the partnership of the MOU.

“Our goal was to build a stronger long-term research relationship between two universities systems that are across the street from each other,” Birx said.

“We have had and continue to have ongoing collaborations, but there are programs that we cannot apply for that our partnership can. This is beneficial to both universities, the students and faculty.” 

These previously existing collaborations include grants the universities received from the Houston Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Partnerships and TSU’s NASA-supported Center for Bionanotechnology and Environmental Research. 

“TSU and UH also applied for a NOAA grant to create the NOAA Center Atmospheric Processes in the Coastal and Urban Environment for $12.5 million, but this was not funded. This was a partnership between TSU chemistry, math and computer science with UH Geosciences,” Birx said. “We have submitted and will continue to submit proposals with TSU.”

The two universities partnering in research is not new. Brown-Guillory said that this concept was formed more than five years ago.

“For example, UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Math and TSU’s College of Science and Technology share in a grant to improve education for STEM majors, including science, technology, engineering and math,” Brown-Guillory said.

The benefits from the MOU partnership are not restricted to grants and research.

“We may end up with additional UH-TSU joint research centers or other efforts in the future as a result of this MOU,” Hosey said.

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