The University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham have strengthened their collaborations with Brazilian institutions in the state of Rio de Janeiro after securing funding for a number of country-specific research projects.

The Rio de Janeiro State Funding Agency (FAPERJ) has allocated £100,000 for nine research projects in 2014/2015, with the amount matched by combined funding from the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham.

Working with peers from institutions from across the State of Rio de Janeiro, academics will undertake research into priority areas spanning the health sciences, engineering, mathematics, psychology and the humanities. The scope of the joint research includes:

  • Nanostructured carbon-based materials – Research teams from Birmingham and PUC-Rio will develop nanostructured carbon-based materials with emphasis on the study of graphene as a protective tribological coating of steel, and diamond-like carbon coating for biomedical and energy applications, eg. hydrophobic coatings of tubes to transport oil and gas.
  • Psychology and dentistry – Collaborations between psychologists and dentists at Birmingham, Nottingham and UERJ will aim to make a difference in terms of patient and dental health professionals’ health and care. Their research will focus on dental anxiety and phobia; oral health-related quality of life in paediatric patients with oral health-related conditions; and stress and burnout in dental health professionals.
  • Rethinking legal and moral responsibility – This multidisciplinary research, focused around English and Brazilian tort law, aims to illuminate human agency in the context of political and legal institutions.
  • Memory reconsolidation and extinction – Academics from Birmingham and UFRJ will be studying how to predict the consequences of retrieving a memory upon that memory's subsequent persistence. A memory can sometimes be destabilised, which can lead to its disruption, it can be actively inhibited, or there can be no apparent consequence. However, currently it is not possible to predict what will take place, and why.
  • Bubble dynamics and wave/body interaction – Mathematicians at Birmingham will work with Brazilian partners at UERJ to create numerical schemes and computation simulations that will aid engineers in the Brazilian offshore oil industry.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to develop their collaboration to enable them to make further joint applications to external funding bodies to support bilateral research.

The full list of successful proposals in the first funding call of the joint pump priming fund will be announced at the Brazilian Academy of Sciences on November 6. Attendees will include Professor Ruy Marques, President, FAPERJ; Professor Malcolm Press, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer, University of Birmingham; and Professor Neville Wylie, Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham.


Professor Marques said: “We were extremely impressed with the quality and relevance of the proposals received within the joint call between FAPERJ and the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham. We are certain this is yet another step that our academic communities are taking towards even greater advancement of science, technology and the humanities in Brazil, and in the world.”

Professor Press added: “Along with the University of Nottingham, we are honoured to be the first institutions in the UK to benefit from an agreement with FAPERJ. The breadth of research projects which will be funded showcases the common values that we share in promoting excellence, developing careers and forging long-lasting international partnerships.

“We look forward to building on an already successful relationship with FAPERJ and ensuring that this partnership remains sustainable in the long term.”

This is the latest development in the collaborative relationship between the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham. Since opening a joint representative office in Brazil in 2011, both universities have committed to developing mutually beneficial partnerships with leading Brazilian institutions and agencies. These include long-term research collaborations; researcher, staff and student mobility; doctoral training; education initiatives; and business engagement and knowledge transfer.

Birmingham’s engagement with Brazil has also won the Outstanding International Strategy Award in the 2014 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs). The award honours Birmingham’s bold approach to secure its position in Brazil as the UK higher education institute (HEI) partner of choice.