BATON ROUGE, La. – Members of the LSU AgCenter’s International Programs office recently hosted a delegation from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand as a future partner in research through an agreement between the two organizations and the LSU Baton Rouge campus.
David Picha, director of the International Programs office, said the agreement will be much like other agreements of this type where the collaboration of faculty and staff between organizations results in a better understanding of other cultures and strengthens research programs.
“This will be a great opportunity for us to share ideas and to collaborate on projects with one of the premier universities in Thailand,” Picha said. “One of the reasons for their visit was to work out the details of the Memorandum of Understanding between institutions.”
The LSU AgCenter has a number of agreements of this type with other international institutions and universities, he said.
“We want to enlarge the AgCenter’s footprint globally and improve relations in areas where we don’t have as much of a presence as we’d like to have,” Picha said.
This agreement is being done with Chulalongkorn University because of the leadership provided by one of their professors, Pongtharin Lotrakul, who is an LSU graduate.
Lotrakul said he received his Ph.D. in plant pathology from LSU in 2000 and went back home to become a university professor.
“I would like to see our universities establish a joint degree program so students from both universities can share knowledge and understanding of cultures,” Lotrakul said.
This is a general expansion and diversification of international engagement in areas with common interest, Picha said. “This agreement will allow us to optimize our opportunities internationally in the agricultural arena.”
Thailand produces significant amounts of rice and sugarcane, and research collaborations involving these crops is an example of one of the areas where we can work together for the good of the agricultural industry in both countries, Picha said.
“Thailand and Louisiana are both very strong in the production of rice and sugarcane, so this will allow us to learn from each other,” he said. “As we have an expanding world population, we need to keep the food supply at an affordable, consistent level.”
In addition to Lotrakul being an LSU alumnus, Hunsa Punnapayak, an assistant dean who was travelling with the group, also is a Louisiana graduate, receiving his degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“Our collaboration with Chulalongkorn University is just a good way to help our students and faculty grow professionally, and personally, resulting in the cultural enrichment of our lives and advancements in the agricultural sector,” Picha said.
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