Sarah Geegan


UK Partners With Brazilian Universities

Published: Dec 12, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2012) — As Brazil, “B” in the “BRIC economies,” recently overtook the United Kingdom as the world’s sixth largest economy, the University of Kentucky is strengthening its connection with the new economic powerhouse. Institutional partnerships, working groups and student exchanges with the new global economic leader present wide-ranging academic and research opportunities for UK students and faculty.


“UK’s long-standing relationships with Brazilian universities are taking on increased importance, as Brazil’s global role continues to expand,” Susan Carvalho, UK associate provost for international programs, said. “Those partnerships open up opportunities for shared research and development on both sides, and show us the future of global knowledge production, beginning with agriculture and now expanding to other research areas.”


One of the strongest institutional partnerships UK has with Brazil is with the Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV), a public university in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.


UFV consistently ranks as one of the top universities in Brazil; its world-class agricultural and engineering programs attract students from around the world. The strong ties between UK and UFV’s agricultural programs combined with UFV’s new Medicine and Nursing colleges has enhanced the similarities between the institutions.


“UK is unique among universities in the U.S. with its combination of agriculture, engineering and medicine on one campus," Steve Workman, experiment station associate director and assistant dean of the UK College of Agriculture, said.  "As a result, both institutions will benefit through agreements at the university level.”


Workman has been on the forefront of the UK- UFV partnership since his first visit to Brazil in 2004.


On Nov. 8-9, 2012, UFV President Nilda Soares; the UFV Office of International Affairs Director Vladimir Di Lorio; and UFV’s Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Eduardo Mizubuti visited UK to discuss opportunities that will benefit both universities.


These relations allowed for the partnership to begin in the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, and then broaden to become the Brazil Working Group. Through a USDA International Science and Education grant, the Brazil Working Group has created new exchange agreements, co-authored research and facilitated faculty exchanges.


A member of the Brazil Working Group, Surendranath Suman, associate professor in the UK College of Agriculture, exemplifies the kind of work that is key to UK’s partnerships in Brazil. Suman has been working with UFV faculty in their Department of Food Technology and Department of Animal Science to establish a program on the molecular basis of beef quality differences between Brahman cattle and European cattle.


“I chose to work with UFV because of the reputation of their animal science and food technology programs. These departments are highly ranked and respected in Brazil. UFV’s labs are of excellent quality, and the research projects I produced there were published in reputable journals,” Suman said.


UFV is hoping to channel UK’s expertise for its new colleges of Medicine and Nursing. Suzanne Prevost and Pat Howard, both associate deans in the UK College of Nursing, met with the UFV delegation to begin discussing potential future collaborations between the programs.


Scientific Mobility Program

UK’s partnerships with Brazil are also strengthened through the Scientific Mobility Program (SMB) – formerly the Science Without Borders program. SMB provides full scholarships for Brazil’s highest achieving undergraduate students to study in the world’s best institutions for one year.  Twenty-nine of SMB students are currently studying at UK.


SMB students internationalize, and bring new ideas and energy to UK’s campus. Ivan Ribeiro, a student from UFV is examining Brazil’s scientific literature regarding livestock production, its impact on streams and riparian ecosystems, and the best management practices and laws used to minimize these impacts. Ribeiro plans to present his results at the ASABE (American Society of Biological and Agricultural Engineers) meeting this summer in Kansas City.


“I am excited about studying at UK because this allows me to improve my spoken English, and learn about U.S. culture.  The students here are very helpful, and the technology is fantastic. During this next year I am hoping to improve my ability to write about the research I am involved with,” said Riberio.


Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education

Kentucky students are also traveling to Brazil through the Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), a competitive grant program run by U.S. Department of Education designed to support risky, innovative projects.  


Students participating in the FIPSE program receive a stipend that covers their expenses. The exchange program has been designed to fit seamlessly into a student’s program of study, so that a student can graduate on schedule and include study abroad in Brazil. Biosystems and agricultural engineering students have already participated in the program, which is open to all engineering students. The UK FIPSE program is directed by Tim Stombaugh, associate professor in biosystems and agricultural engineering.


“Brazil’s dynamic and rapidly growing economy – in such fields as agriculture, oil and gas, mining, manufacturing, and aerospace – and its importance to the U.S. as a trading partner, mean that the knowledge and experience that our students gain from our partnership with the Federal University of Viçosa will be extraordinarily valuable to them in their careers,” said Gary Gaffield, assistant provost for international partnerships. “Building the human capital of the Commonwealth in this way, and supporting research that will foster continued economic growth and build even stronger economic ties with Brazil, is central to UK’s mission as Kentucky’s flagship, land-grant university.”  




MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365;

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