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A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa engineering professor has been selected to serve in the role of research ambassador by the German Academic Exchange Service. Department of Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor William E. Uspal joins nine other individuals who will promote research opportunities in Germany within their professional community, university or organization and discipline.

Research ambassadors qualified for the program after previously conducting a long-term research project in Germany at the doctoral level or above. Before joining UH Mānoa in 2018, Uspal worked as a postdoctoral associate at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. He was motivated to apply for the research ambassador position because of his unique experience of moving between the European, North American and Pacific research communities, where he observed a disconnect.

“Although research today is globalized and digitized, I was surprised to find some disconnection between the European and American communities—not only in personnel exchange and collaborative projects, but also in research approaches, awareness of recent findings and collective scientific understanding,” Uspal said. “We could find new synergies in research by making new connections between these communities.”

In August, Uspal and the nine other research ambassadors participated in a two-day seminar in New York, addressing the latest developments in German higher education and research. They were also briefed on the many funding programs available to North American scientists and academics interested in conducting research in Germany or initiating collaborative projects with German colleagues. Uspal and the other research ambassadors are now serving as liaisons for the German Academic Exchange Service at their respective campuses in the U.S. and Canada to promote research opportunities in Germany among their colleagues, peers and students.

“Through public events and one-on-one advising, I am eager to share information across the University of Hawaiʻi System regarding funded research and internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, like RISE—Research Internships in Science and Engineering,” Uspal said. “If I had been aware of programs like that when I was a student, I absolutely would have applied.”

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