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New global oceans partnership ties Canadian, Israeli universities


Halifax, NS – Dalhousie University has signed a new memorandum of understanding with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, with the goal of combining oceans scholarship and expertise.

This week, Dalhousie’s president Richard Florizone and vice-president research Martha Crago are in Israel as part of the Canadian delegation accompanying Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his first official visit to the Middle East.

On Tuesday, Dr. Florizone, together with President Rivka Carmi of Ben-Gurion University, one of Israel’s leading research universities, signed the memorandum of understanding.

The agreement allows for several different facets of inter-university collaboration, including pure and applied joint research projects, co-supervision of doctoral students, industry research internships in both countries, joint field courses (in the winter in Eilat and in the summer in Halifax), co-taught courses and major scientific conferences and workshops. The end objective is to create an Ocean Studies Center in Eilat that encompasses scientific and academic programs from both countries.

“The sea covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and is essential for our survival. And yet, at the same time, most of it remains unexplored — filled with mystery and unfulfilled potential,” says BGU President Rivka Carmi. “We believe this partnership will strengthen the cutting edge science at both universities and place this unique initiative at the forefront of global research.”

Nestled on the coast of the Red Sea, Eilat is a logical location for such an oceans centre. The city is home to the Interuniversity Institute in Marine Science, which involves Bar-Ilan University, Hebrew University, Haifa University, Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), Tel-Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Eilat also hosts the National Center for Mariculture and a campus of Ben-Gurion University.

And Dalhousie is a compelling partner for Eilat, with its long track record as one of the world’s leading research universities through its work with initiatives ranging from the Ocean Tracking Network, to the Halifax Marine Research Institute, to the new cutting-edge Ocean Sciences Building. The Red Sea provides a complementary yet well-aligned ocean environment with ongoing research in the North Atlantic, and combining expertise between Halifax and Eilat offers new opportunities for collaborative research in many areas, from physical oceanography, to aquaculture biodiversity, to issues such as marine security and transportation.  

The full details of the new agreement will begin to take shape in the coming months.

Reported by Ryan McNutt, Dalhousie University