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New partnership focuses on Yangtze River ecosystems

Queen's Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss (right) and Tongji University Vice-President Jiang Bo sign a memorandum of understanding for collaboration on the new International Research Laboratory of Yangtze River Ecology and the Environment.

Queen’s University has entered into a new phase of its collaboration with China’s Tongji University that will see Queen’s researchers participate in the International Research Laboratory of Yangtze River Ecology and the Environment, or InteLab-Yangtze for short.

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InteLab-Yangtze is an international initiative that aims to create the foremost research centre in the world on the ecology of the Yangtze River basin. Its partner institutions also include the Helmholtz-Forschungszentrum Juelich, based in Germany, and Stockholm University in Sweden.

“Queen’s and Tongji are already close partners, with a number of collaborative research and academic programs active between the two institutions,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), who recently visited Tongji for the official signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions. “This new agreement will deepen this relationship and foster important new research related to the ecology of one of world’s longest rivers.”

Queen’s Biology professors Yuxiang Wang, Brian Cumming and Steven Lougheed were among those actively involved in starting InteLab.

“Both universities have a wealth of expertise in ecology and environmental science and this new collaboration with the InteLab-Yangtze will build on existing partnerships to provide exciting opportunities for learning and research,” says Dr. Wang, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of the Environmental Physiology and Aquatic Ecosystems Lab.

Over the past few years Queen’s and Tongji have developed a number of key partnerships, especially related to ecology and environmental science. In 2013 the two institutions established the Sino-Canada Network for the Environment and Sustainable Development, and in 2014 announced the creation of a "two-plus-two" degree program in environmental science. Representatives from Tongji visited Queen’s over the summer to participate in the first-ever Sino-Canada Workshop for Aquatic Environmental Sustainability held at Queen’s main campus and at the Queen’s University Biological Station, which became the sister-station to Yangtze River Environment Specimen Bank in 2015.

While in China, Vice-Principal Liss visited a number of universities in Shanghai, Nanjing and Tianjin and met with Queen’s alumni in Shanghai. China is an important focus in Queen’s new Comprehensive International Plan and the university has been working actively to create new academic and research partnerships with Chinese universities and to attract high quality students to study at Queen’s.