Auburn faculty visit partners in South Korea to encourage and facilitate faculty research, education and outreach

Published: April 17, 2023

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Ten Auburn faculty members representing six colleges and the libraries traveled to Seoul and Daegu, South Korea, over spring break to establish research and other collaborations through the Research & Scholarship Connections Travel Grant awarded by the Office of International Programs, or OIP.

The diverse delegation, led by Andy Gillespie, assistant provost for international programs, visited current and potential partners in South Korea to strengthen links in the strategic region.

"The faculty-familiarization trip to South Korea was highly successful and allowed our group of 16 to visit with one of our strategic partners, Keimyung University and several other top universities in Seoul, Incheon and Daegu, South Korea," Gillespie said. "Faculty were able to make research connections and plan for collaborations in our multiple missions. Student mobility through exchange was discussed, as well as recruitment of students into our graduate programs. OIP will continue these efforts to foster and facilitate greater international collaboration among our faculty, ensuring that Auburn's footprint grows around the world."

In addition to the multiple disciplines represented, the faculty members also represented eight different countries and cultures, highlighting the international nature of Auburn's faculty.

Ellie Lee, director of academic programs for the Korea Center-King Sejong Institute, said one of the most positive aspects of the trip was the ability to connect with colleagues she might now have the opportunity to meet or work with during day-to-day operations on campus.

"I am hoping our office can further facilitate interdisciplinary research and projects among faculty members that were part of this delegation and lead students' global mobility and internship opportunities," she said.

The Research & Scholarship Connections Travel Grant leverages Auburn's strongest international partnerships to foster collaborations across disciplines. Faculty benefit from OIP's contacts, logistical expertise and the security and longevity of relationships formed at the university level to make the connections they need to further world-class research on the international stage.

Attendees like Gary Piazza, department head in Drug Discovery and Development and director of the Cancer Research Center, echoed those sentiments.

"Being relatively new at Auburn, I enjoyed meeting other faculty from other colleges and the camaraderie, despite coming from different disciplines," Piazza said. "South Korea is a beautiful country with kind-hearted and resilient people who are very proud of how they rebuilt their country following the war. I am following up with contacts I made at KMU and Ewha and look forward to future research collaborations."

Razan Al Fakir, assistant professor in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, was looking for collaborators around the world for her research in improving the functioning and health outcomes of individuals with ear disorders such as hearing loss and balance loss.

"There is potential to establish a division of the audiology program at KMU," Al Fakir said. "Our audiology program at Auburn University is growing, as we are in the process of establishing the Ph.D. program as well. I am excited about the possibility of collaborating to establish this division of audiology at KMU."

With the world open and hungry for solutions, Auburn can help shape the future through research, scholarship and innovation. The Research and Scholarship Connections Grant is one way OIP helps further that mission. The following delegation of grant recipients will visit partners in Taiwan this May.

More information on OIP programs and initiatives.

Submitted by: Danielle Johnston