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Alumna Kristi Kiick tells us about the Fulbright award that took her to the University of Nottingham, which helped further her expertise in her field.
Dr. Kiick is an alumna of the University of Delaware, where she is currently the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the Chair of the University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. From January to July 2020, she had the opportunity to further her research at the University of Nottingham through a Fulbright scholarship, investigating the synthesis, characterisation and application of biologically inspired and biologically produced materials.
How has the Fulbright award helped you in your area of expertise?
Through the Fulbright award, I have been able think about completely new ways to use the materials developed in my laboratories in the US. I was hosted by Professor Felicity Rose at the University of Nottingham, and collaborated with her and a highly talented team of researchers, working to advance the development of therapies that could be used to treat diseases the gut.
This Fulbright-supported work was specifically focused on developing advanced manufacturing protocols for our protein-based materials, with potential applications in forming organoids for drug screening. But I was also able to make and strengthen scientific connections within Nottingham and around the UK, which will be key to integrating our materials into other medical applications.
My time in the United Kingdom also enabled me and my family to experience the rich history and culture of the UK and Europe, and to enjoy the unique beauty of England. We were able to visit plenty of castles, museums, pubs, and areas of natural beauty around the UK, and enjoyed, closer to our UK home, plenty of hiking and running in the Peak District.
Having worked in academia in both the US and the UK, how important do you consider international collaboration to be?
International collaboration is incredibly important in research. There are numerous specialist areas and approaches to conducting science, shaped by the countries in which we live. When individuals with differing but complementary expertise work together, new discoveries and success regularly follow.
It has been very rewarding to collaborate and learn together with an esteemed team of researchers in the UK. This work has involved an interdisciplinary collaboration alongside scientists and clinicians from the School of Pharmacy, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Queen’s Medical Centre at the University of Nottingham. We have been able to think as a group about new materials, new manufacturing protocols, and new applications that could help improve human health. None of these interactions would have happened as readily without the support of the Fulbright award.
The US-UK Fulbright Commission is committed to support of international collaboration in research and empowering researchers to progress in their careers. The Commission partners with global information analytics company Elsevier to provide UK graduates opportunities for international collaboration. The Elsevier Early Career Researcher UK Awards 2020 was themed around international collaboration and featured a discussion between leaders of higher education in the US and UK about the importance to research of international relationships.