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Partnership with Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences Renewed

Delegates from the Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences and UKZN staff.

Partnership with Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences Renewed

A historic research partnership between UKZN’s School of Life Sciences and China’s Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (JAAS), which started in 2013, has been renewed.

In a significant step towards enhancing collaboration between the two institutions in the fields of agricultural and life sciences, delegates from JAAS visited UKZN’s Westville campus on 24 January to renew the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and explore avenues for future co-operation.

The visit was marked by a comprehensive programme aimed at fostering mutual understanding, discussing potential research collaboration and formalising agreements. The day commenced with the introduction of the JAAS delegates and UKZN faculty members participating in the visit. Professor Ademola Olaniran, Dean and Head of the School of Life Sciences provided insights into the history of the partnership and highlighted past fruitful collaborative activities between JAAS and UKZN.

Professor Fhatuwani Mudau, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science extended an official welcome to the JAAS delegates, whilst Professor Wang Ran, Vice President of JAAS, emphasised the value of the partnership and the collaborative achievements thus far.

Dr Thandeka Khoza, a UKZN lecturer in Biochemistry who spent time at JAAS, shared insights into the impact of the partnership on academic research and highlighted the benefits for researchers at both institutions.

The renewed 2024 MoU was signed by Ms Normah Zondo, Executive Director of Corporate Relations at UKZN, and Ran, formalising continued commitment to collaborative activities.

The 2024 visit builds on a rich history of collaboration between JAAS and UKZN, which began with a visit from JAAS to the School of Life Sciences in September 2013, followed by a reciprocal visit of four UKZN delegates to JAAS in January 2014. The signing of the MoU in April 2014 marked a significant milestone in formalising the partnership.

Since the signing of the original MoU, both institutions have demonstrated commitment to the partnership through initiatives such as joint PhD supervision, recruitment of PhD students, and collaborative research projects. Annual meetings and the establishment of a steering committee have facilitated monitoring and evaluation of progress.

The partnership has yielded tangible outcomes, including the graduation of PhD students, the appointment of adjunct and honorary professors, and participation in joint international grant applications. International staff exchange programmes, collaborative research initiatives and joint research publications have further strengthened the partnership.

The recent visit aimed to review progress on the MoU, discuss joint PhD programmes, explore opportunities for student and staff exchange, and identify areas for future collaboration. Discussions focused on priority research areas such as environmental biotechnology, bioenergy, vaccine development, Artificial Intelligence and smart technology, and food security.

In his closing remarks, Professor Neil Koorbanally, Dean of Research in the College, emphasised the importance of international collaboration in addressing global research challenges.

‘The visit by JAAS to the UKZN School of Life Sciences underscores both institutions’ commitment to advance agricultural and life science research,’ said Olaniran. ‘The renewal of the historic partnership reaffirms the value of international cooperation in driving innovation and finding solutions to complex research issues.’

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Sethu Dlamini