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UCR Partners With Veracruz University

UC Riverside Partnership with University of Veracruz, Mexico, Takes Shape

Collaboration on a Broad Range of Scientific Initiatives Underway

(February 4, 2004)

Arturo Gómez-Pompa

Arturo Gómez-Pompa

RIVERSIDE, Calif. —— A long-planned collaborative relationship between the University of California, Riverside and the University of Veracruz, Mexico is now underway in which both universities will share research on a variety of scientific initiatives, and on community development and migration issues.

UC Riverside Botany Professor Arturo Gómez-Pompa, organized the collaboration, which is in the early stages of an ambitious agenda that includes conservation biology, biotechnology, mosquito abatement, migrant workers, nanotechnology and the monitoring and development of natural reserves. The world-renowned expert on tropical forest ecology serves as coordinator of development for UV’s Centro de Investigaciones Tropicales (Center of Tropical Research, or CITRO), the first project in the partnership. Gómez-Pompa is now based at Veracruz developing this project.

Several students and researchers involved in the UCR-UV program have received support for their projects through individual grants and fellowships from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, (UC MEXUS) and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technologia(National Council of Science and Technology, or CONACYT), allowing UV doctoral students to study in Riverside, facilitating the exchange of researchers, and the conducting of joint research. UC MEXUS is a UC system-wide center developed in 1980 and based at the Riverside campus since 1984 to study issues common to both countries, to foster research in Mexican studies, Latinos in California, US-Mexico Relations, and collaboration between UC and Mexican researchers. UC MEXUS’s collaboration with CONACYT has also created programs that helped further the goals of the UC Riverside-Veracruz partnership.

“The main objective of the agreement is to open an opportunity to develop collaborative programs of research and education in topics of importance to both universities,” said Gómez-Pompa. “It is expected that several UCR faculty will start projects based in this new center. It is also expected that UCR faculty in collaboration with UV faculty could offer field courses in the tropics of Mexico, based on the activities of CITRO.”

Among several anticipated projects are plans to permanently share state-of-the-art technologies and measuring instruments needed to monitor the behavior of animal and plant species. One of the most anticipated projects is the furthering of ethno-botanic and molecular study of tropical trees in Mexico.

“A project I am enthusiastic about is the continuation of the work started 10 years ago at El Eden Ecological Reserve in Quintana Roo, Mexico,” Gómez-Pompa said of the effort to develop an alternative model for a protected area that is non-governmental, small, research and education oriented, self-sustained, low-maintenance, and that could be replicated. “A book just came out on the work done. This project I started at UCR has been taken over by the University of Veracruz, and will become a model to create similar sites in selected sites in the tropics.”

Other projects include the sharing of computer equipment as tools for gene data analysis; the identification of nematodes in potato and coffee in the Mexican state of Veracruz; and the development of a course on basic aspects of electrophysiology applied to the study of living cells.

The universities will study the possibility of developing a master’s degree in education program for graduates of Mexico’s schools of education, similar to a program UV currently has with Southern Georgia University.

“UCR students could also use problems of the research program of CITRO as dissertation projects,” Gómez-Pompa said. “This activity has already started. UV faculty and students could come to UCR to develop joint research proposals, use the library and other facilities of UCR, and participate in ongoing work at UCR laboratories in areas of mutual interest.”

Another area of study is coffee production. With prices plummeting due to overproduction, in part because of high competition, plantation workers are affected, and often forced to migrate to the U.S. to look for work.

“CITRO has been invited to participate in a major program to help lowland coffee growers,” Gómez-Pompa said. “This is an effort of the Mexican government to eliminate poor-quality coffee and concentrate efforts to produce certified highland-shaded coffee. This is a multimillion-dollar project that offers great opportunities for research in many fields.”

The partnership will further increase UC Riverside’s relationships with Mexican universities.

“We hope to create a world-class program in tropical research and education that could attract good students and faculty to UC and UV,” Gómez-Pompa said.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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