The UT Austin Portugal Program’s External Review Committee (ERC), a panel of international experts appointed by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), annually reunites to carry out an evaluation exercise of the Program’s activities and progress. This exercise is of the utmost importance to ensure the Program remains aligned with the best international scientific standards.
On December 6 and 7, the Committee reunited for the last meeting of Phase 3 to not only hear from the Program about the activities undertaken in 2023 but also to learn about the actions being taken to ensure the continuation of the partnership after December 31. Therefore, the President of FCT, Madalena Alves and FCT’s International Relations Office were also in attendance to inform the Committee of the negotiations taking place with UT Austin to ensure the continuation of activities in 2024, leaving to the next Government taking office the decision to renew the Partnership through a multiyear collaborative agreement.
The evaluation conducted by the ERC entails a series of meetings with beneficiaries and champions of the Program, where the latter get to share their experience with UT Austin Portugal and the uniqueness of that collaboration that tends to extend beyond the Program’s initiatives themselves.
This time, the ERC met with three candidates admitted into the 2023 UT Austin Portugal Short-Term Research Internships and their hosts at UT Austin and also the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston; with the scientific coordinators of the Online Advanced Course on Biomedical Imaging 2023 and the PIs of three Exploratory Research Projects selected through the 2021 ERP Call. The interviews allowed the ERC to have an in-depth understanding of how the Program’s Research and Education components are creating value for its beneficiaries and, ultimately, positively impacting the Portuguese academia, Portuguese research organisations and the Portuguese society as a whole.
The Program’s Leadership also discussed with the ERC the actions taken throughout the year to prepare for the future of this partnership.
The ERC is chaired by Peter Arzberger, founding and former chair of the Pacific Rim Application and Grid Middleware Assembly (PRAGMA), which promotes the collaboration of small research groups on developing and using an international cyberinfrastructure. The remaining panel is composed of experts from the several Program Areas. They are Oliver Jäkel (Head of Clinical Research Group – Medical Physics in Radiation Oncology at the German Cancer Research Center), Alfred Ng (Deputy Director at the Canadian Space Agency), and Marie-Paule Pileni (Emeritus Distinguished Professor at Sorbonne University).