Collaboration with University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Simula's academic collaboration with UCSD is spread over several different programmes: PhD, Master and postdoctoral programmes can all apply for collaboration with UCSD. Simula's Summer school has a built-in collaboration module with UCSD, where students do research and attend courses both at Simula Research Laboratory and at UCSD.

Background for collaboration:

Both the University of Oslo (UiO) and Simula Research Laboratory have enjoyed longstanding scientific collaboration with the University of California San Diego (UC-San Diego) in diverse fields spanning several faculties. Talks between the institutions regarding more formal education collaboration have been ongoing, and past years have seen delegations from both sides crossing the Atlantic, including a joint visit to UC-San Diego by Morten Dæhlen (Dean, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences), Aslak Tveito (Leader, Simula Research Laboratory), and Molly Maleckar (current Director of the Simula School) in February of this year.

Based on this long-term interest in closer collaboration, UiO and Simula had jointly proposed an educational collaboration with UC-San Diego focusing on computational science, with applications in life science and earth science, which will be supported by the Ministry of Education and Research from 2015. At the heart of this collaboration will be 15 Ph.D. students under joint supervision by UiO/Simula and UC-San Diego, addressing challenging research problems that require joint competence from Norwegian and American scientists. The students will have a high degree of mobility, efficiently bridging transatlantic collaboration in a way that is consistent with Norwegian policies and strategies for internationalization of research and education, as well as for collaboration with North America. When finished, students will be highly relevant and attractive candidates for positions in important segments of the knowledge-based industry and in academic research, in Norway and internationally.

The collaboration is planned as a project governed by a steering committee with an equal number of participants from UiO and Simula, which will receive scientific recommendations from a scientific advisory board with representatives from all three institutions. Simula, which is affiliated with UiO as a research school, will be the administrative lead of the project. The Ph.D. positions connected to the new funding requested in this proposal will be allocated partly at UiO and partly at Simula, but subject to shared administration and organizational measures supporting a center-like collaborative environment.

An international summer school in computational biology was offered this summer and is a good example of the unique opportunities that arise when these three institutions work together. Twelve young students were given the opportunity to learn advanced computational cardiac modeling, a field in which the partners have worked closely since 2001.

“As one of the world’s leading universities in the fields of medicine and bioengineering, UCSD is a perfect match for the computational expertise at UiO and Simula,” says Dr. Molly M. Maleckar, Director of Simula’s education activities. She was responsible for this first international summer school, which brought together students from Norway, the USA, Denmark, Germany, and Italy. “We connected students from different academic backgrounds. After two weeks of intensive training at Fornebu, Oslo in June, they used the summer to collaborate on in-depth projects focused on current challenges in cardiac research. The summer school concluded on the UCSD campus in California, where participants presented their results for top researchers in the field,” Maleckar says.

“My colleagues and I at UC San Diego are delighted by this announcement from the Ministry of Research and Education and looking forward to expanding and intensifying our research and education collaborations with faculty and students from Simula and UiO. This opportunity for our students and faculty to work side by side with the top Norwegian scientists and students will lead to new solutions, discoveries, and technologies in biomedicine, engineering, and computer sciences,” says Professor Andrew McCulloch who directs UCSD’s Cardiac Mechanics Research Group.

This year’s summer school was a pilot programme for joint courses, which can now be included in the formal collaboration between UiO, Simula, and UCSD. Students from the University of Oslo who participated in the summer school programme can already use the course as an approved component of their studies. “The proposal for a long-term, formalized collaboration with UCSD is firmly anchored in national and institutional objectives aimed at making Norwegian research a global leader, and it has attracted great interest,” says the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at UiO, Morten Dæhlen. “We are very pleased to see that the government is prioritizing this project – this is definitely an initiative that supports the government’s ambitions for Norwegian research and education. This is an interesting pilot programme for UiO, but our ambition goes even further. We aim to establish similar partnerships with other world-class institutions,” he adds. 

Joining the forces of UC-San Diego as an internationally top-ranked university, UiO as a leading European university, and Simula as the highest ranked research institution in Norway in ICT, this new, ground-breaking collaboration carries a high potential for achieving excellence in research and education.