Established in 2012, Swansea’s Strategic Partnership with Grenoble is an innovative multi-disciplinary model for international cooperation, adding value through academic differentiation. Here Professor Laurent Charlet, from Université Grenoble Alpes, his role in setting up the partnership, the work currently being undertaken and his hopes for the future of the partnership.
Could you outline your current role and career to date?
After many years devoted to strengthening international links at my home university of Universite Grenoble Alpes initiating the Swansea Grenoble strategic partnership, I am now focusing on pure research, on developing the “Geo-Health” mechanistic interpenetration of medical and environmental issues, which I find fascinating.
I presently work on combined iron and selenium interactions in cancer control, plant trace element bioavailability and nuclear waste risk minimization. I have developed a number of tools for this purpose within the Institute of Earth Sciences (ISTerre) including a P2 biology laboratory, a top Medical and Environment Imaging Platform, and a close collaboration with INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) located in Genoble.
I, of course, continue teaching, for example, within SaferNano summer schools, and advise the French Parliament Rousseau Think Tank on future water related issues.
When and why did you first become involved with Swansea University? In what capacity was this?
As International Research Advisor to the President of Grenoble University, I was tasked with developing European collaborations and was involved in the creation of a network of like-minded universities throughout Europe.
It is in this role that I was invited to visit Swansea University and to meet and discuss potential collaborations with a number of key research leaders including Professor Steve Wilks and Professor Steve Conlan, the co-founders of Swansea University’s Centre for Nanohealth.
I have also established a number of links, which still exist and prosper, with the community of researchers at the College of Engineering and Medical School.
What are you currently working on with Swansea University?
Professor Steve Conlan and I are currently finalising one paper (two others have already been published) and are working on a Marie Curie post-doctoral proposal on iron and selenium interactions in cancer control. A PhD student, co-advised by both Professor Steve Conlan and myself, completed his PhD last Autumn (2020).
I also have extensive interactions with Professor Andrew Barron, the Director of theEnergy Safety Research Institute (ESRI), with whom I share a variety of research interests. Together we have co-written various proposals, for instance, on Hydrogen storage and on geological carbon sequestration, and are currently working on the development of particle-rich paper-based materials (for use in masks, AC filters, packaging, etc) that immobilize and neutralise viruses such as the SARS Cov2.
How have you found working with Swansea University?
I have found the people I have worked with across the University to be highly professional and motivated partners, open to interactions with other fields of interest beyond their own and happy to talk with and collaborate with international partners.
The University administration has also provided a very good level of support and assistance, helping to solve the numerous challenges associated with operating across national and European boundaries.
All this has taken place in the relaxed atmosphere of Swansea University located in the heart of the gorgeous Swansea Bay which I never tire to visit.
What collaborations have you initiated/seen grow through your involvement with the University?
I am delighted to see that the Swansea-Grenoble Strategic Partnership I helped to launch has been successful and that the collaboration between our two universities has prospered and even intensified during the current Covid crisis which has seen the adoption of a 5-year strategic plan which should secure a bright future for our collaboration.
What are your future plans/hopes for the partnership with Swansea University?
My future plans are to deepen the collaborations I have initiated over the past few years and to hopefully launch new multidisciplinary research ventures in new challenging fields such as that of resilience, which both universities have identified as being of growing interest and relevance to our fast-changing world.
Besides my personal collaborations, I hope that during this time of crisis brought on by the pandemic this ‘resilient’ partnership, which intersects social sciences (psychology, business, social organisation), engineering and environmental sciences, will not only be a tool for better interactions between the two universities, but also provide an opportunity to improve relationships and collaborations with colleagues within and across each institution.
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