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Samuel Aroni, Peripatetic Ambassador for UCLA International Linkage ProgramsBen-Gurion University of the Negev (Samuel Aroni inset)

Samuel Aroni, Peripatetic Ambassador for UCLA International Linkage Programs

As a tireless promotor of international collaboration, Professor Emeritus Samuel Aroni has worked for two decades to establish joint research programs with UCLA faculty in Israel, Australia, and France.

By Leslie Evans

Sam Aroni is an authority on structural engineering, concrete materials, statistical methods, building systems, housing, and earthquakes. Sprightly and energetic, his bearing belies his emertus status as a retiree from UCLA's Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The special mission he has chosen to carry out for more than two decades is not in the field of architecture but in relations with people in other countries.

Sam Aroni has single-handedly built and maintained an extensive network of exchange relationships between UCLA and universities around the world. He visits each of his chosen exchange partners, usually once and often twice a year. He facilitates collaborative research projects with UCLA faculty, including numerous international conferences. He also arranges for faculty there to come for stays at UCLA, and for students to travel both ways for special training.

In acknowledgement of Prof. Aroni's persistent high level of activity as a roving ambassador he has long carrried the title given to him by the former Dean of International Studies and Overseas Programs, the predecessor of the UCLA International Institute, of Director of Special Academic Projects. He was awarded the Medal of the City of Paris  in June 1999 for his work with INRUDA (International Network on the Role of Universities in Developing Areas).

In his report below, Prof. Aroni reports on recent joint research projects at the five universities where he serves as UCLA Coordinator for the ongoing exchange agreement.

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Report by Samuel Aroni

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: Crop Plants for Arid Environments

The UCLA-BGU Program of Academic Cooperation, with the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Beersheba, Israel, in existence since 1978, is presently supporting two significant joint research projects. As part of the long-standing research cooperation between BGU Professor Yosef Mizrahi and Professor Park Nobel, of the UCLA Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, a Post Doc research fellowship for one year has been awarded to Dr. Noemi Tel-Zur. Her research will take place in the laboratory of Professor Yosef Mizrahi, on the subject of “Hybrid Identification in Vine Cacti Based on Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) Analysis.” The second research award is on “A New Approach to Engineering Crop Plants to Cope with Arid Environments — Identification of Plant Genes Regulating Responses to Environmental Stress,” to Dr. Simon Barak, at the BGU Department of Dryland Biotechnology, in cooperation with Professor Elaine Tobin of the UCLA Department of Molecular, Cell & Development Biology.

Ecole Speciale Des Travaux Publics (ESTP), Paris: Engineering Students at UCLA

During the twelve years of cooperation between UCLA and Ecole Speciale Des Travaux Publics (ESTP), in Paris, France, thirty-three ESTP students have completed their graduate studies at the UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, including three Ph.D. degrees. Three new masters students have started their studies in September 2002.

University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia: Research on the Aging Brain

The program of cooperation with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Sydney, Australia, was established in 1986 and is now in its final year. A large international conference on "The Aging Brain" was jointly organized by Professor Perminder Sachdev, UNSW Professor of Psychiatry, and Professor Gary Small, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Director, UCLA Center on Aging, and held at UNSW in November 2000. A joint UNSW-UCLA Biomedical Engineering Symposium was held at UNSW, July 8-9, 2002, with the participation of UCLA Professors Warren Grundfest, Jack Judy, and Carlo Montemagno.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University), Melbourne, Australia: Water and the Environment

Since 1991, we have had a very active cooperative program with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University), in Melbourne, Australia. The very successful RMIT-UCLA joint workshop on “Water and the Environment: Policies and Practices in the Water Industry” was held in Melbourne during March 19-20, 2002. The UCLA participants included Professors Michael Stenstrom, Tom Harmon, and Keith Stolzenbach, UCLA Civil & Environmental Engineering Department. A joint return workshop with RMIT University participants will be held at UCLA during the summer of 2003. A second joint event in Melbourne this year was the UCLA-RMIT Colloquium on “Religion, Diversity and Cohesion in the Global Neighborhood,” September 12-14, 2002, with the participation of Professors Scott Bartchy and Vinay Lal of UCLA, and Professor Ivan Strenski of UC Irvine.

Victoria University (VUT), in Melbourne, Australia: Heritage Languge Study

The academic cooperation between UCLA and Victoria University (VUT), in Melbourne, Australia, is now in its seventh year. The Australia – United States “Heritage Language Education Research Conference” was held at VUT, July 17-19, 2001. It was co-convened by Professor Emeritus Russell Campbell, then the long-time director of the UCLA Language Resource Program; and Associate Professor Helen Borland, Head, Victoria University Department of Communication, Language, and Cultural Studies (CLACS). Participation was by invitation only, and totaled seventeen contributors, six observers, and two note takers. The invited contributors came from seven Australian universities, the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, and from seven United States universities and institutions. This was followed by a public conference on "Our Languages, Our Heritages: Community Languages into the Future” on July 20-21, 2001.

A Three-way Cooperation on Aging

Another three-way active area of academic cooperation between UCLA, BGU, and Victoria University is on the subject of aging. In November 1999, a joint symposium on "Aging Societies and Diverse Cultures: Trends and Challenges for the 21st Century," took place at BGU, organized by Professors Sara Carmel, Head, BGU Department of Sociology of Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Professor Fernando M. Torres-Gil, UCLA Department of Social Welfare and Policy Studies, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, School of Public Policy and Social Research, and Director, Center for Policy Research on Aging, who led the UCLA group. We also had the valuable participation at the symposium of Professor Terence Seedsman, Faculty of Human Development, Victoria University. The above was followed, on June 29, 2001, at UCLA, by a public forum on the International Dimensions of Aging, with participants from the three universities. This month, November 2002, another joint symposium is taking place at Victoria University. Work is also proceeding on a joint book titled "Global Aging and Diversity: A Trilogy of Perspectives and Solutions".