Visiting Virginia Tech....the collaboration continues

By Dr Bagus Muljadi: Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at GERC

From February 25th to March 5th a contingent of GERC researchers – Prof. Matthew Hall, Dr. Max Bardwell, Dr. Veerle Vandeginste, and myself – visited Virginia Tech to begin a series of discussions regarding research collaborations and student co-supervisions. The trip followed the fresh appointments of two dual-affiliated assistant professors: Dr. Bahareh Nojabaei at Virginia Tech, and yours truly at The University of Nottingham.

Having spent a day recuperating from jetlag and rough landings, the GERC delegates were met by the VT counterparts in a meeting led by Prof. Michael Karmis – the head of VCCER. The meeting highlighted the overlapping research interests and capabilities, and collaboration opportunities to take going forward.

For some, this was our first visit to Virginia Tech – home of the Hokies basketball team. Dr. Nino Ripepi, and Mr. Kyle Louk took us to a Monday-night game where the Hokies hosted the Miami hurricanes. Ty Outlaw of VT broke the school record, scoring 8 three-pointers as the Hokies beat the visitors 66 to 61.

A packed 10000-seater Cassell Coliseum stadium

With the temperature in Blacksburg fluctuating between -7 to 18C, some of us were struggling to adjust at first. This however, did not stop us from being productive as in the following days; our schedules were packed with fruitful discussions with VT researchers from a number of schools. The meetings led to many concrete plans regarding joint proposals for funding, continuation of the VT-UoN IRES programme, and PhD joint supervision.

As a town of (only) ~42000 inhabitants, Blacksburg is hardly a disappointment in the food department. While devoid of the luxury รก la Yorkshire’s mushy peas, the culinary scene is rich with comfort food done right. Some of the pancakes, pulled pork sandwiches, and pizzas were the best we ever had, and at affordable prices too!

For a fiver, this plate of finger-licking hot legs can feed a family of four

We are very thankful for the hospitality of our VT counterparts, Prof. Michael Karmis, Dr. Jack Lesko, Dr. Eric Westman, Dr. Kray Luxbacher, Dr. Nino Ripepi, Dr. Ellen Gililand, Dr. Bahareh Nojabaei, Dr. Cheng Chen, and other VCCER members who have kindly hosted us and made us feel truly at home.

At the end, we realised that by being close together as a team, in a relaxed environment during the trip allowed us to share information, solicit ideas, and make decisions quickly. Brainstorming was natural and frequent leading to quick materialisation of ideas. We are looking forward to replicating this concept back home.

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