Two UGA alumni traveled close to 9,000 miles recently to participate in the renewal of a partnership that dates back nearly 30 years between UGA and Khon Kaen University in Thailand.
Monchai Duagjinda, dean of agriculture at Khon Kaen, and Virote Pattarajinda, associate dean for agricultural research and international affairs, joined KKU President Kittichai Triratanasirichai as part of an eight-member delegation that visited UGA April 21-22.
UGA’s partnership with KKU dates back to the 1980s when the forerunner of the Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab was first established. During the 1990s, Duagjinda and Pattarajinda came to UGA to complete their doctorates as part of a partnership UGA established to provide postgraduate training for KKU faculty members, according to Victoria McMaken, associate director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Office of Global Programs.
“Dr. Duagjinda and Dr. Puttarajinda have been instrumental in keeping both the UGA-KKU relationships and the UGA Thailand alumni group strong,” McMaken said. “Not only have they maintained relationships connected to their own research, they have looked for ways to expand and deepen connections between our two institutions.”
One of the most important ongoing collaborative activities with KKU is a joint graduate training program sponsored by the Thailand Research Fund, according to McMaken.
Since 2009, the Royal Golden Jubilee PhD Program has provided funding for eight KKU students to spend a year at UGA conducting research as well as allowing KKU and UGA faculty members to spend a week at their partner institutions. Currently, KKU doctoral candidate Watcharawit Meenongyai is studying with Alex Stelzleni, an associate professor in the animal and dairy science department.
In addition to the Royal Golden Jubilee program, other collaborative activities have included research, faculty and student exchanges and graduate student training. KKU also has hosted UGA students for undergraduate and graduate internships.
“Thailand is one of our focus countries for international collaboration, and KKU is one of our strategic partner universities,” said Amrit Bart, director of the Office of Global Programs. “Along with the programs already established, we are jointly developing a multinational proposal to develop a research network in Thailand.”