Researchers from UWA and Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in Korea will benefit from new teaching and research collaborations which will further strengthen a partnership that began in 2015.
At the recent SKKU-UWA Partnership Forum, held in Korea on 21-22 September, discussions continued to foster a reciprocal arrangement that started at the inaugural forum held at UWA last year.
UWA’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Robyn Owens, who led this year’s UWA delegation of 15 academic staff, also explored funding joint research between the two institutions.
SKKU is a leading global research University with over 600 years of history and a similar world ranking to UWA - we both tied at a 111th spot on the Times Higher Education rankings. Additionally, the University has strong industry links and is supported by industry partner, Samsung.
“Australia and Korea have enjoyed a close relationship, with Korea being our third largest trading partner and we are delighted to further enhance our partnership by connecting our universities,” Professor Owens said.
A number of important outcomes were achieved, including the exchange of new technologies between the UWA School of Human Science’s Dr Yu Suk Choi and SKKU’s Professor Jae Byum Chang, who are both working on visualising nanoscale details of biological systems.
“SKKU has recently developed iterative expansion microscopy, which can physically expand biological specimens more than 50-fold, making them clearer when viewing through a microscope.
“We plan to develop a new technology in collaboration with SKKU that will improve mechano-expansion microscopy – enhancing our understanding of cell interaction,” Dr Choi said.
While at the forum, UWA’s Head of Cancer Biology, Dr Katie Meehan, discovered that both UWA and SKKU have a strong interest in breast cancer research in Indigenous women. The partnership will begin generating pilot data for grants to assist this vital research and it is hoped that data sharing will strengthen research results.
In social sciences, UWA will partner with the advanced Korean program at the Inter-University Centre, which aims to improve academic language, reading comprehension and translation skills between Korean and English. SKKU is the only Korean University offering such a program.
Student exchange programs in physics were initiated at the first forum and UWA Senior Principal Research Fellow, Professor Mikhail Kostylev said the first exchange of undergraduate students in February this year was a great success.
“We are proposing to extend this exchange to postgraduate students. This is very important because there is plenty of expertise at SKKU that complements what we do at UWA,” Professor Kostylev said.
The SKKU-UWA Partnership Forum is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia-Korea Foundation, which is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (Chief Investigators at UWA are Dr Jo Elfving-Hwang, Mr Iain Watt, Professor Wendy Erber, Professor Ian McArthur and Professor Len Collard.)