Capital Region Exchange Program Connects UAlbany Experts with International Delegates

UAlbany faculty experts meet with a Ukrainian delegation at ETEC.
UAlbany faculty experts meet with a Ukrainian delegation at ETEC. (Photo by Luke Rumsey)

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 6, 2023) — The University at Albany is home to hundreds of faculty experts who are helping tackle society’s biggest challenges — including some that are far away from home.

Over the past year, UAlbany has partnered with the International Center of the Capital Region (ICCR) to host delegations from all over the world and discuss pressing topics impacting their home countries.

Already, the University has hosted delegations from France, Poland, Egypt, Moldova and, most recently, Ukraine. More visits are anticipated, according to Luke Rumsey, UAlbany’s director of community relations.

“We have so many faculty at UAlbany with extensive knowledge in their areas of expertise, so it’s reasonable to conclude that when international delegations visit the Capital Region, they want to connect with our institution,” Rumsey said. “These visits have sparked great dialogues between our faculty and the delegates. We look forward to continuing to see our partnership with ICCR grow.”

"UAlbany has been a fantastic community educational partner, providing resources that offer a vast variety of experts who can speak on topics such as countering disinformation, women in politics, or climate change," added Jennifer Zhao, executive director of the ICCR. "Our international visitors make meaningful connections with UAlbany’s faculty and staff that could lead to future collaborations. The ICCR is grateful for this partnership and looks forward to expanding our relations in the future." 

Ukraine Energy Independence

Last November, Ukraine officials reported that Russia had carried out 92 attacks on its energy infrastructure since the start of the war one month earlier. These attacks disrupted the power grid for more than 10,000,000 households throughout Ukraine, roughly half of the country.

A Ukrainian delegation visited the Capital Region at the end of April with a focus on how to expand renewable energy generation and move toward complete energy independence from Russia.

During the visit, the delegates met with Capital Region energy leaders, including representatives from the New York State Energy and Development Authority (NYSERDA), National Grid and several academic institutions.

The delegation’s UAlbany visit featured a discussion with research faculty at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center and other sustainability experts on campus. They were also given a tour of the ETEC research and development complex, which has received LEED Platinum certification, the highest level awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council for energy-efficient and sustainable buildings.  

"This visit was a unique opportunity to discuss the ways the New York State Mesonet observes the weather as well as the role that UAlbany’s Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics plays in weather-based forecasting and prediction,” said Nick Bassill, the director of research and development at the Center of Excellence. “Both are valuable resources to improve renewable energy generation.”

"I was very impressed by the professionalism of the group,” said Richard Perez, a solar energy expert and senior research faculty at UAlbany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center. “Their positiveness and can-do attitude regarding the future energy infrastructure of their country, substantiated by a solid vision of options ahead, including solar energy, has a vast potential in Ukraine."

Other UAlbany representatives at the visit included Jeff Freedman, a renewable energy researcher at ASRC, Mary Ellen Mallia, director of environmental sustainability and Indu, UAlbany’s energy officer.

ICCR’s Open World

This visit from the Ukrainian delegates was made possible through ICCR’s Open World Exchange program. The initiative, guided by Congressional Office for International Leadership, aims to introduce rising leaders of emerging countries to the importance of legislative functions in creating and sustaining democracies.

Shortly before the Ukrainian visit, ICCR hosted a delegation from France to discuss strategies to combat disinformation. That visit also included a stop at UAlbany, meeting with faculty experts in information literacy and cybersecurity.

For more information about ICCR or to volunteer as a citizen ambassador, visit