U.S. State Department selects Purdue to lead China EcoPartnership

May 9, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The U.S. State Department is selecting Purdue University to lead one of six U.S.-China EcoPartnerships, which will focus on sustainability issues including environmental challenges posed by alternative energy and climate change in the two countries.

A formal signing ceremony announcing the agreement is planned for Tuesday (May 10) in Washington, D.C., in connection with the third annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to participate in the signing ceremony.

"The new EcoPartnership will focus on environmental and energy challenges in the United States and China," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "We are looking forward to being an active and leading global player to address these challenges, working with State Department officials, our colleagues in China and our U.S. university partners."

The Purdue-China EcoPartnership, a five-year initiative, will focus on joint research aimed at addressing the combined effects of climate change, renewable energy and human activities on regional and global ecosystems. Research teams also will explore technologies that would aid in restoring damaged ecosystems.

The U.S. partners - the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment at the University of Tennessee, the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Biological Sciences and Purdue's Center for the Environment - for the past five years have collaborated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences through the China-U.S. Joint Research Center for Ecosystem and Environmental Change, which is led by UT.

"Through this global initiative, we plan to offer joint research projects, academic exchange, student education, and technology transfer and training that includes business development and entrepreneurship," said John Bickham, executive director of the Center for the Environment and U.S. team leader for the Purdue-China EcoPartnership.

The U.S. team will collaborate with Chinese researchers at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, and the Institute of Applied Ecology.

"The University of Tennessee has made it a priority to cut overall energy consumption and foster environmental stewardship on campus," said Jimmy G. Cheek, chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "We are eager to join with others across the nation and the world to share best practices that will have a positive impact on the environment and the economy." 

Bickham's counterpart in China for the partnership is Gui-Rui Yu, deputy director and lead researcher at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research. Pankaj Sharma, interim managing director for Purdue's Center for the Environment and associate director of operations and international affairs for Discovery Park, also will be a part of the taskforce established to manage joint research projects.

"By transitioning to the EcoPartnership program, the Joint Research Laboratory on Sustainable Ecosystem will formally interact with and learn from the 13 existing and five other new EcoPartnerships sanctioned by the U.S. State Department and the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission," Bickham said.

The EcoPartnership also builds on a five-year agreement between Purdue's Center for the Environment and the Chinese Academy of Sciences called the China-U.S. Joint Research Laboratory on Sustainable Ecosystem. Through that, Purdue and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Applied Ecology are creating programs that offer opportunities for student, scholar and faculty exchange in research and study.

The Purdue-China EcoPartnership's kickoff event, Global Sustainability Issues in Energy, Climate, Water and Environment, is planed for Sept. 26-29 at Purdue as part of the university's Green Week activities.

Purdue's Center for the Environment, located in Discovery Park, is examining how to protect the environment while sustaining a global economy. Researchers are studying ways to model and predict the impact of activity on ecosystems, monitor environmental quality, manage natural resources, and develop technologies that will help create a cleaner environment.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is a leading academic institution and comprehensive research and development center in natural science, technological science and high-tech innovation in China. It was founded in Beijing in 1949 on the basis of the former Academia Sinica (Central Academy of Sciences) and Peiping Academy of Sciences.

Writer:  Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources:   France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                    John Bickham, 765-494-5146, bickham@purdue.edu

Related web site:

Global Sustainability Initiative