With over 150 faculty members involved in numerous projects spread on six continents, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has not only an impressive international presence, but a worldwide impact. Now, thanks to a new website, finding out more about the CALS’ international activities is easier than ever.
The website, at http://go.ncsu.edu/cals_international, is the result of an ongoing partnership between CALS’ International Programs Liaison Jose Cisneros and Kim Cox from the Information Technology unit.
Cisneros sees the database-driven website’s creation as an important first step toward helping CALS realize one of its strategic plan goals – expanding the college’s international presence and program activities.
“This is a powerful tool that researchers, educators, government officials and corporate representatives around the world can use to find CALS faculty with international working experience, their areas of expertise, the countries they are working, the types of projects they are engaged in, who their partners are and even what languages they speak,” Cisneros said. “Inside the college, this tool will facilitate broader collaboration, leverage ongoing projects and improve efficiencies.”
As an example of the tool’s value, Cisneros uses the hypothetical example of a faculty member looking to participate in a grant opportunity to improve nutrition in rural Tanzania: “With few clicks in the ‘faculty directory’ section, selecting the area of expertise, language spoken and countries of experience, the faculty will obtain the list of colleagues with those attributes,” he said.
“Or even in a case as simple as a faculty member or student planning to travel to a specific country, they can easy find what other members of the CALS faculty have experience in that specific country or even get a list of partner institutions the college has in said country.”
Clicking on the “regions/countries” section of the website provides an interactive world map of CALS international activities that is quite impressive, Cisneros added. The map reveals that the college not only has longtime ties to Latin America, but its presence is also felt strongly in Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia.
The range of CALS faculty members’ international activities is wide, encompassing research projects, development programs, human capacity building, study abroad programs and more.
Clicking just a few of the research project sites gives a sense of the diversity of these efforts: In the Bahamas, for example, an applied ecologist is considering why mangroves are dying, while a soil scientist is helping gain a better understanding of water-quality issues in South Asia and an entomologist is working on interventions to reduce aflatoxin in peanuts in four African nations. In all, there are some 80 current projects.
“These are activities that come from individual faculty initiatives, but as a college we thought if we were able to bring that information together, then our international programs productivity would be higher,” Cisneros explained. “We believe this website gives us an advantage that no other land-grant university has.”
— Dee Shore