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Sandia Labs partners with UA Engineering to boost energy, water, climate research in the Southwest
May 24, 2011 - 4:00:00 AM

TUCSON, Ariz. and ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (May 24, 2011) -- The University of Arizona and Sandia National Laboratories have agreed to collaborate on engineering aspects of four critical environmental research areas in a new partnership that will initially focus on research involving management of these resources in the Southwestern U.S.

The driving force behind the new collaboration is to increase investigations of the relationships between energy, water climate and sustainability -- especially in the Southwest -- through new research into the interrelationships between these areas. Under the agreement, research experts in these individual areas, plus materials science, will team to explore how strategies in one environmental area affect the other areas. By understanding these interrelationships, we can then engineer better materials, systems, devices and management strategies, said Jeff Goldberg, dean of the UA College of Engineering.

The initial stages of the plan involve research teams from the University of Arizona College of Engineering -- including faculty, students, grad students and staff -- collaborating with teams from the New Mexico-based Department of Energy national laboratories. Glenn Schrader, associate dean of research at the UA College of Engineering, says the unique aspect of this agreement is its focus on using teams of researchers to tackle these areas, rather than individuals or individual labs, providing additional research opportunities for UA students and faculty.

Joint proposals developed from the new partnership are expected to increase the amount of research funding opportunities at the UA, as well as increasing the amount of sponsored research awarded to the university as a whole. For Sandia, the partnership is expected to open up new research opportunities across many levels, including: allowing Sandia to capitalize on its core technical strengths; improving access to key university facilities, capabilities and ideas; identifying the next generation of research scientists and engineers; and providing a vehicle for addressing key sustainability issues affecting the nation's security. This is part of our technical strategy to partner with the best universities in the nation to address the most challenging technical problems facing the U.S., said Duane Dimos, director of engineering sciences at Sandia National Laboratories.

This new partnership with Sandia, led by the UA College of Engineering, is an excellent example of the world class interdisciplinary and collaborative research that characterizes work on the environment and energy across the University of Arizona, said Diana Liverman, co-director of the UA Institute of the Environment. It also demonstrates the university-wide commitment to finding solutions to local, national and international environmental challenges.

Other anticipated collaborations from the new partnership include exchanges allowing personnel from both institutions to serve on UA advisory panels and Sandia review panels, jointly-sponsored workshops, and courses which would be available at both institutions.

The partnership is also expected to raise the number of UA graduates and postdoctoral graduates at Sandia, increase the number of interns at Sandia from UA labs, and increase the number of fellowship program and Ph.D. candidates at Arizona. The collaboration will initially focus on the issues of utmost importance to the arid Southwestern U.S. that are common national security issues for both institutions, but other research themes may be partnered on as well, based on faculty interest and funding opportunities, Schrader said.

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