The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Strengthening ties: Faculty program opens doors for academic collaboration throughout the SEC

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Photo by Courtesy

(Left to right) Dr. John Eric Smith and Dr. Megan Holmes from Mississippi State University and Dr. Neil Johannsen from Louisiana State University talk with high school athletes about the importance of nutrition and hydration during an SEC Faculty Travel Program visit.

Throughout this year, six A&M faculty members will visit various Southeastern Conference universities for research, lecture presentations, grant proposals and more.

The opportunity is a yearly Faculty Travel Program presented by the SECU, the SEC’s academic initiative. The program, now in its sixth year, provides over 100 select members of the 14 SEC universities across all disciplines with the funding to travel to each other’s campuses for collaboration.

Trip lengths and subject matter are determined amongst universities themselves and will continue throughout the academic year. Included in Texas A&M’s group of program participants are biomedical engineering assistant professor Corey Bishop,  marketing instructional assistant professor Senarath Dharmasena and assistant professor of kinesiology Deanna Kennedy.
Holly Foster, professor in the department of sociology, is traveling in the spring semester and said she is appreciative of the SECU’s efforts to increase collaborations throughout the SEC with the funding of this program.

“It is a project about women’s imprisonment that I will be presenting on (under contract to the University of California press) in a series of lectures to faculty and grad students at the University of Kentucky,” Foster said over email. “I will be giving three presentations, two on the book on this topic I am working on, and one about mixed methods research (using survey or quantitative data along with interview-based information and other qualitative data).”

The trip is an opportunity to both advance cosmological studies and increase A&M’s presence throughout the nation according to university distinguished professor in the department of physics, Nicholas Suntzeff. Suntzeff will travel to the University of Alabama at the end of October to present both professional and public lectures.

“I am trying to establish personal relations with astronomers in the southeastern United States … We need to unite our astronomers more so we can have more of a united front because otherwise we get leveraged out of most discussions by California universities and northeastern universities,” Suntzeff said. “It’s also really important for Texas A&M to do this because we are one of the great universities in the country but we are less well known nationally than we should be given the quality of the university.”
During this fall and over the upcoming summer professor, presidential impact fellow, and associate department head for research and faculty development in the department of educational psychology Jeffrey Liew will travel to develop a grant proposal with a colleague at the University of Missouri.

“My main objective is to work with my collaborator Dr. Gustavo Carlo to develop ideas for a grant proposal in addition to working on some research applications,” Liew said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to have an exchange between researchers at Texas A&M and the University of Missouri because I feel like Texas A&M is a great institution but it is also helpful to see what is going on at other universities and to let them know what we are doing here.”
These faculty travel program is one of the many ways the SEC tries to promote the academic success through its universities, according to Torie Johnson executive director of SECU.

“I think anytime that the Southeastern Conference is able to support the work of our faculty that’s important because that’s really the heartbeat of any institution of higher education,” Johnson said. “It’s also important for the SEC which, people first and foremost think of athletics because of our history in that realm, but it’s also important for these programs we do through the SECU academic initiative to show good examples of how the conference is also supporting the academic position of our institutions.”

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