|Contact:||Nitant Kenkre, 277-4846
Michael Padilla, 277-1816
May 30, 2001
UNM Receives Grant to Encourage Collaborations with Latin
The Consortium of the Americas for Interdisciplinary Science, a Center of the
College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico housed in the Physics
Department, has been awarded a grant for $150,000 by Los Alamos National Laboratory
(LANL) to encourage UNM/LANL collaborations with Latin American scientists.
Vasudev M. (Nitant) Kenkre, UNM professor and director of the consortium, said
this is a very exciting initiative sponsored by the vice provost for research,
dean of arts and sciences and external sources.
Kenkre said the grant strengthens links between UNM and LANL.
This grant will have an initial emphasis on Argentina, Brazil, Chile
and Mexico, Kenkre said It will be used to bring Latin American
scientists to New Mexico to spend periods ranging from weeks to almost a year.
Two examples are Dr. Guillermo Abramson from Bariloche, Argentina, who is already
here and Dr. Gustavo Cruz Pacheco from Mexico City, Mexico, who is expected
later in the summer. They both work with UNM and LANL scientists.
The consortium was established July 1, 2000 to encourage collaborations between
Latin America and UNM in interdisciplinary science. The consortium has a strong
participation of scientists and administrators from more than 20 Latin American
institutions of research and higher learning, and the national laboratories
in New Mexico. The focus of research investigations is in three specific directions
which are timely and of crucial importance to advances in science and technology:
nanoscience, computationally complex systems and novel materials. Kenkre has
been instrumental in holding, on behalf of UNM, six workshops in the last year
and half, five of them in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile and one for Mexico in
Albuquerque. He has travelled extensively in these countries and established
numerous conduits for intellectual exchanges between UNM and Latin America.
At his invitation about two dozen scientists from Latin America have already
spent periods at UNM ranging from weeks to several months collaborating with
The idea of the consortium is based on three factors. The first has to do with
the current and potential factors associated with the focus topics. The field
of nanoscience is poised to blossom under a concerted approach by physicists,
chemists, mathematicians and biologists, aided by computational scientists and
engineers. Some of the research goals are of immediate practical interest as
in optical tweezers and nanosize light emitting devices. Others are of a fundamental
nature as in tunneling of Bose-Einstein condensates between traps.
The importance of investigations of computationally complex systems has become
enormous in contexts ranging from earthquakes and evolution of landscapes to
wave propagation in reaction diffusion systems (biological cells) and sintering
of powders (aspects of manufacture). New tools are making possible a truly basic
understanding (and consequent tailoring) of novel materials on length scales
varying from nanoscale through mesoscale to macroscale. Such novel materials
include biologically inspired self-assembled materials, magnetic materials with
highly controllable properties, and even granular materials (sand) and porous
Required is an interdisciplinary gathering of investigators from a variety
of sciences, linked by a common language such as that of physics and/or applied
mathematics, to solve basic problems in these three fields. The second factor
is the willingness and the suitability of UNM to play host to a collaborative
enterprise involving Latin American science. UNMs willingness is evident
from the clear statement of one of the goals in its Strategic Plan: ...to
become prominent in our hemisphere as a University of the Americas...
through such collaborative activities. UNMs suitability stems both from
the Latin flavor of the state unique in the entire USA, as well as the states
unique scientific location as a result of the proximity to Los Alamos and Sandia
Laboratories. The third factor is the availability of substantial talent in
the chosen three fields of interdisciplinary science in Latin American universities
and research institutions.
The initial internal UNM support for the Consortium came from Nasir Ahmed, who recently retired as associate provost for Research. Strong backing for the Consortium was expressed in letters by officials from Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. The substantial funds made available by LANL have come as a result of interest in the Consortium on the part of Alan Bishop, the director of the Theory Division, Allen Hartford, the director of Science and Technology Base Programs, Thomas Meyer, associate laboratory director for Strategic and Supporting Research, and William Press, principal deputy laboratory director of LANL.
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