Banco Santander grant to fund student travel, learning in Brazil

A $160,000 grant through Banco Santander and the State University of New York system will enable 30 students in science-related fields from SUNY Oswego and elsewhere around the system to study at Oswego’s global laboratories in Brazil over the next two years.

Oswego’s interim provost, Lorrie Clemo, said the college made the case for the grant with the help of the eight partnership agreements SUNY Oswego already has in place in Brazil—more than any other college or university in the SUNY system—as well as its course and travel offerings there over the years.

“We would like to see all our global laboratories sites sponsored at some point,” said Clemo, a key architect of SUNY Oswego’s Global Laboratory agreements around the world. “That’s why we’re so excited about this wonderful gift from Banco Santander and SUNY’s Office of International Programs.”

Undergraduate and graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, in Oswego and around SUNY, have until April 1 to apply for 15 $5,000 scholarships this summer that will amount to nearly all-expenses-paid, four- to eight-week opportunities for coursework and research at one of SUNY Oswego’s Global Laboratory partner universities in Brazil. Fifteen more students will have the opportunity in 2012.

The remaining $10,000 of the grant will go toward faculty travel and development. Among SUNY Oswego faculty slated to make the trip, Clemo said, are Dr. Shashi Kanbur of physics, a faculty fellow in the college president’s office, who has led courses that include a research component in Brazil, and his wife, Dr. Cleane Medeiros of biological sciences, a native of Brazil, who frequently leads student research trips to the nation’s Pantanal (Everglades-like) region.

‘Critical piece’

Clemo said study-abroad opportunities often are out of reach financially for students. “This grant allows students to have a research opportunity abroad without the worry of finding other financial support,” she said, as study abroad “is becoming more and more a critical piece of what it is to have a successful college experience, to be a successful student in the 21st century.”

Joshua McKeown, director of the college’s Office of International Education and Programs, agreed. “This (grant) has particular importance, because the bulk of these programs are in the natural sciences, and those offerings have traditionally not been as robustly attended as others,” he said.

Besides summer, relevant STEM-based courses for spring or winter breaks or for quarter courses with travel to and study in Brazil also can qualify for grant funding, McKeown said.

McKeown assisted Clemo, Kanbur and Medeiros in negotiations with SUNY and Banco Santander, Europe’s largest commercial bank. Santander started in Spain in 1857, has branches all over Brazil and holdings in several countries, including the United States, and is now among the world’s top five banks in profitability.

Banco Santander will send a representative to SUNY Oswego’s Quest, April 13, the college’s daylong celebration of student and faculty scholarship, Clemo said. A SUNY system executive will be on hand, too.

The college intends to “put on quite a show” for Phedra Khodospour, vice president of Santander Universities/U.S., located at Sovereign Bank in Boston, a Santander holding, and Sally Crimmins Villela, SUNY’s assistant vice chancellor for global affairs.

Villela is the SUNY liaison for the bank’s 2009 three-year agreement with the SUNY system to promote international education, research and a dual-diploma program. It was the funds for one of the projects within that agreement—semester-long student exchange programs with Brazil—that Clemo suggested be renegotiated to include shorter, less costly summer programs at Oswego’s Global Laboratory partners.

Someday, Clemo said she would like to see Brazilian students traveling to Oswego and other SUNY institutions.

“We’re hoping,” Clemo said. “That’s the next piece.”

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(Posted: Mar 02, 2011)

Tags: world awareness, study abroad, research news: student opportunities, international education, global laboratories, brazil