The opportunity to see research and life as a graduate student in another country is something that would not have happened without the training grant program. I’m also not sure I would have ever tried sushi in the US. My husband and I didn’t realize how much we went to Sakura after my trip until the owner of the restaurant sent us baby gifts when we started bringing our little ones there years later! My 6 year old won’t eat cheese but she loves eel – go figure!
In an increasingly globalized world, it is important that students are exposed to different cultures and acquire cross-cultural skills. We offer our trainees participation in two international exchange programs - one with Japan and another with Norway.
BTI has a long-standing exchange program with the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan. Each year three to six graduate students are given the opportunity for a 3-week paid visit in a laboratory to work on short research projects and learn about the culture of their host country. A similar group of students from NAIST visits the University of Minnesota and works on short projects in faculty trainers’ labs. Social activities and excursions are planned by graduate students from the hosting institutions. Every other year, BTI or NAIST hosts a joined research symposium that brings together biotechnology faculty and students from both institutions.
In the Spring of 2016, the BioTechnology Institute signed a memorandum of agreement with the University of Tokyo. Students will have the opportunity to work in the labs of faculty members in their Biotechnology Research Center and Department of Biotechnology. The University of Tokyo is a premier research institution in Japan, and its biotechnology research is highly complementary to that of our groups. Another exchange program is in development with Osaka University.
Fellowships to support travel and research exchange for University of Minnesota graduate students are also available with the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, through the Norwegian Centennial Chair program. This trilateral agreement is funded by a significant endowment and annual contributions by each institution.