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University Global Partnership Network Supports Sao Paulo Emissions Project

A collaborative research project funded by the University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) Research Collaboration Fund brought together faculty from NC State, the University of Surrey and the University of Sao Paulo. The project, led by Dr. Yang Zhang on the NC State side, is called BIOBURN and aims to study the impact of emissions on urban environments. Dr. Zhang, a professor at the College of Sciences, partnered with Dr. Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, as well as Prof. Maria de Fatima Andrade and Prof. Perola Vasconcellos from the University of Sao Paulo to achieve this project.

The BIOBURN researchers sought to investigate unaccounted sources of emissions, and how those emissions impact urban environments in Sao Paulo, Brazil. BIOBURN found that stoves in pizza restaurants and charcoal in steakhouses cause harm to urban environments. The city is home to around 8,000 pizza parlours, and these wood-burning stoves are negatively affecting the environment in Sao Paulo, despite Brazil’s compulsory green biofuel policy and other environmentally friendly measures. They further showed that biomass burning in agriculture lands and forests can increase the ambient concentrations of fine particulate matter, a criteria pollutant that can cause harmful effects on the cardiovascular system including heart attacks and strokes, and premature death.

To fund this project, Dr. Zhang received 10,000 dollars from the UGPN Research Collaboration Fund, a program facilitated by International Affairs. UGPN funds allowed Dr. Zhang to visit the University of Sao Paulo in January 2016, and the University of Surrey in June 2016. Awarded funds also supported the Workshop on Air Quality, Climate, and Health, which occurred on NC State’s campus on April 7-8, 2016.

The mission of the UGPN is to develop sustainable world-class research, education and knowledge transfer through an active international network of universities, collaborating to benefit global society. Seed funding invested by UGPN partners has facilitate internationally co-authored work in this extremely important research area.

Dr. Zhang continues to work collaboratively with investigators from the University of Surrey, University of Sao Paulo, University of Wollongong, and Queensland University of Technology. In Fall, 2017, she will be taking a period of scholarly leave at the University of Wollongong, Australia and University of São Paulo, Brazil, and has just been awarded a 5,000 Internationalization Seed Grant to continue her efforts. Dr. Zhang stated, “UGPN has been an excellent program that connects NC State faculty members and students to other partner universities for globalized research and education in a manner that a traditional program cannot offer. We benefit greatly from a close project collaboration on research, journal publications and workshops, as well as student/staff mobility programs.”

The 2017 UGPN Annual Conference is being held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from April 3-5 with academic workshops focused on Health & Biomedical Technology, Early Years Development, Natural Resources and New Materials & Photonics. The next call for proposals for the UGPN Research Collaboration Fund is anticipated to be announced following the annual conference.