Grant Supports Undergraduate Research in Brazil

Oswego students Earl Bellinger ’12 and Janet Buckner ’12 eagerly tell how their summer 2010 work at the college’s global laboratories in Brazil studying the stars and surveying wildlife has opened opportunities for them as future scientists.

As they prepared to return this summer, they had a chance to share their stories with representatives of the international partnership that is supporting a Brazilian research experience for them and 13 other SUNY students this year and another 15 next year.

Banco Santander, SUNY and Brazil representatives

Officials from Sovereign Bank/Banco Santander, the State University of New York system and Brazil’s State of Alagoas visited SUNY Oswego in May to preview the work that 15 SUNY students will do this summer at Oswego’s global laboratories in Brazil under the first phase of a $160,000 Santander-funded project.

Officials from Sovereign Bank/Banco Santander, the State University of
New York system and Brazil’s State of Alagoas visited SUNY Oswego in May and heard Bellinger’s and Buckner’s presentations. Banco Santander awarded $160,000 to SUNY to support student participation in ongoing research at Brazilian sites in Oswego’s new network of global laboratories.

“We strongly believe that future leaders will be global leaders,” said Eduardo Garrido, director of the Santander Universities program at Sovereign Bank, a U.S. subsidiary of Spain-based Banco Santander. “This has to be fostered.”

Emerging scientists

Buckner gave an illustrated presentation of her work in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands with Cleane Medeiros of Oswego’s biological sciences faculty. She participated in a survey of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, gathering data that will help protect the habitat.

“I’ve had dreams of being a scientist forever,” the senior zoology major said. This summer she returned in search of ideas for her doctoral research. A McNair Scholar at Oswego as well as a participant in the college’s Honors Program, Buckner has been accepted to pursue a doctorate at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Bellinger reported on his work last summer studying the period luminosity relationship of Cepheid stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, working with Shashi Kanbur, Oswego’s faculty fellow and a member of the physics faculty. “You can’t see the Magellanic Cloud from the northern hemisphere yet it holds all the data that I’m researching,” Bellinger said.

This summer the junior double major in computer science and applied mathematics worked on computational quantum physics at the Federal University of Alagoas in Maceio.

‘Tight-knit collaboration’

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley last year traveled to the Brazilian state of Alagoas, the fast-developing northeastern region of Brazil, to sign three agreements that established some of the first global laboratories in Oswego’s planned world-spanning network, including agreements with the federal university and the state of Alagoas.

In turn, Eduardo Setton, secretary for science, technology and innovation for the state of Alagoas, came to Oswego and heard Buckner’s and Bellinger’s presentations. Setton spoke of the tech park in Maceio and the opportunities for international collaboration there through such agreements as SUNY Oswego has established.

Kanbur described Oswego’s network of global laboratories, which he is helping to develop, as “absolutely unique,” and Bellinger added that his experience supports that claim: “My friends at private universities have expressed envy that we have such fantastic opportunities at our public university.”

Josh McKeown, Oswego’s director of international education and programs, agreed. “We have built something special,” he said. “Our students can so seamlessly enter into a research program in another country because of the close relationship of our international faculty with researchers abroad.”

Oswego’s agreements in Alagoas are among nine the college has with universities and states in Brazil. “That’s really a tight-knit collaboration. I’m proud of Oswego for forging these alliances with such an important country,” said Sally Crimmins Villela, SUNY’s assistant vice chancellor for global affairs.

President Stanley noted that Oswego is deepening the relationship as it sends more students to the country to participate in hands-on research while gaining understanding of another culture, and she said she hopes to bring students from Brazil to Oswego. “Banco Santander’s support is helping our global laboratories come into full blossom,” she said.

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