The scale and complexity of global issues such as climate change, pollution and hunger are far too great for anyone country to tackle alone. They require partnerships, collaboration and innovation on an international scale to share ideas and work together to benefit the entire planet.

Part of our work as institutions of higher education is to develop students who can effectively engage in this international collaboration. For students pursuing science and engineering, a particularly impactful way to develop the skills needed for global scientific collaboration is to participate in an international research experience.

The benefits of undergraduate research are well known; students who participate in these experiences show gains in critical thinking and analytical skills, and develop a deeper commitment to their field. Study abroad programs can broaden students’ perspectives and increase intercultural competencies particularly crucial for science and engineering students, who will be creating technologies that may impact the entire world.

One such international research experience is led by Harvey Mudd College chemistry professor Lelia Hawkins, who currently has NSF funding to take students to Paris, France over three summers to conduct research at the cloud simulation chamber at University Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC).