Dr Virginia Nicolas-Perea visits Kurdistan
Dr Virginia Nicolas-Perea visited Kurdistan last month as a networking and recruitment exercise. The trip was very beneficial, not only for the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research but also for the Department of Geography (and other Departments that could be involved through multi-disciplinary research). Highlights of the trip include;
The opportunity of meeting three Kurdistan Ministers (the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Water Resources, the Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and as well as the Minister for Education). All meetings with the three ministers were exceptionally useful and informative; they also expressed to be very keen to promote collaboration with our University. In particular the meeting with Prof Serwan Baban current Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Water resources was very positive and encouraging.
Each Ministry has several scholarships available for Master students, Masters courses taught in Geography were discussed with them and Prof Serwan Baban in particular seemed very interested, it was agreed to send him further information. He also mentioned they would be interested to establish further collaboration such as participating in European proposals, financial visit from some of our researchers for consultancy purposes, financing PhD projects that would help with some of the current issues that they are facing. He also mentioned he would also be happy to facilitate any ground/field data that may be required.
During the trip five Universities were visited (University of Kurdistan-Hewler, University of Duhok, University of Nawroz, University of Sulaimani, University of Salahaddin). All were keen to establish research collaboration as well as with large numbers of students eager to attend Masters courses or completing a PhD with the department/University. There were several requests for split supervision PhD (something that will require further discussion). Several suggestions were also received for some of our academics to become external supervisors contributing to publications (some funded visits always that the academic staff would be interested could also be possible). These PhD students will be based in a Kurdistan University but involving some of Leicester Universities members of staff in the supervision, with the possibility of the students spending up to 18 months in our Department (contributing to bench fees and other small costs for hosting them), at the end of it the PhD would be awarded by the Kurdish organization (unless the University of Leicester would otherwise be interested).
Collaboration in future research projects was also discussed which could be funded by the Kurdistan government with the University of Sulaimani and the University of Duhok. They are very eager to participate in projects where the transfer on knowledge between institutions is undertaken. All five Universities that were visited have affirmed their interest of sending some of the senior members of staff to spend time in the Department as a visiting fellow (for example as part of a sabbatical period). As well as this, they would like to organize fully sponsored visits to enable some of our academic staff to visit their institutions.
During the visits to the University Campuses, we were afforded the opportunity to meet potential Masters and PhD students, in particular, two potential PhD students with a full four years scholarship awarded who would like to come to Leicester to carry out their PhD, both of them have already being in touch with some of the academics in our Department.
In conclusion, I am very grateful for the opportunity, it was a very positive and interesting visit with loads of potential. Follow up communications will be made with many of the academics that were met during the visit and hopefully this will lead to future work and collaborations.