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LGP2 and Grenoble INP-Pagora are setting up a collaboration with American university Virginia Tech.
Blacksburg-based Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) is a leading research institute. Its campus, which is located in the far south-east of Virginia in the heart of the Appalachian range's Blue Ridge Mountains, welcomes more than 31,000 students each year. In the 2015 Best Colleges ranking, Virginia Tech was named the 71st best university in the United States and the 21st best public college. A number of its specializations are ranked among the top 20 programs on offer in the country in the subject in question: civil engineering, electrical engineering and IT, mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, systems engineering, biological systems engineering and chemical engineering.
Over the last two years, Julien Bras, Associate Professor at Grenoble INP-Pagora and head of LGP2's Multiscale biobased materials team, has been leading the development of a partnership with E. Johan Foster, Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Virginia Tech, who specializes in functional supramolecular bio(nano)materials.
This cooperation takes the form of a "long-duration visitor grant program" at the Tec 21 Laboratory of Excellence. Within the scope of the program, teacher-researchers take two-to-three month research trips to the partner establishment each year (over a three-year period), the aim being to favour synergies in their shared research topics. During their stay, the guest academic gives conferences and visits other laboratories that are active in their research areas.
At Grenoble INP-Pagora, Johan Foster presented his research to students, led seminars on the research being conducted in the United States, in particular, and gave lectures on functional polymers. Meanwhile, Julien Bras visited Virginia Tech's infrastructures and presented his research on nanocellulose. The program also includes the co-supervision of a PhD project funded by Tec 21, which is currently being carried out at LGP2 by an American student, Megan Smyth, and is centred on the manufacture of cellulose biomaterials for medical applications.
The collaboration between Grenoble INP-Pagora and Virginia Tech is reinforced by various additional initiatives. For instance, a 2nd year engineering student majoring in Fibre and Biomaterials Engineering completed an internship at the American university in the summer. The two universities are now looking to establish more regular exchanges.