A Summer in Taiwan

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 26, 2018) – UAlbany offers access to a world of opportunities, which for five UAlbany undergraduate students, led them to the tropical island of Taiwan.

The students, four in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES), one in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, were part of this summer’s U.S.-Taiwan Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) program. Now in its third year, the program is designed for students who are interested in going abroad to research extreme weather and resiliency.

This summer’s group, which also included a student from Howard University, spent seven weeks in Taipei, Taiwan, splitting their time between partnering institutions National Central University (NCU) and National Taiwan University (NTU).

Simultaneously, 10 students from NCU and NTU spent six weeks on UAlbany’s campus, conducting research under the mentorship of scientists at DAES, the University’s Atmospheric Science Research Center (ASRC), New York State Mesonet and at the National Weather Service forecast office in Albany.

The program is funded by a five-year, $4.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

“The goal of this international collaboration is to improve our ability to predict and respond to extreme weather events,” said Everette Joseph, ASRC Director, who is the program’s principal investigator. “By including students, not only are we advancing our research, but also preparing the next generation of atmospheric and social scientists to be globally and culturally aware.”

Super Typhoon Maria

Taiwan is prone to extreme tropical storms, particularly during summer months. On average, three to four of these storms, known as typhoons, reach Taiwan’s shores each year.

In July, Super Typhoon Maria hit just north of Taipei, dumping 16 inches of rain and providing students in the PIRE program with a unique, hands-on learning opportunity.

“Watching a typhoon pass over us was an incredible experience,” said Jared Milano, a junior atmospheric science major, who spent 12 years in the fashion industry before enrolling at UAlbany. “This program gave me the opportunity to research alongside some of the top scientists in our field as extreme weather was making its way through the island.”

The program also gave Milano “an extended sense of the world.”

“I knew very little about Taiwan before this trip,” he said. “To say people we met there were friendly is an understatement. It’s a very welcoming country, and well-worth the journey.”

Jessica Blair, a senior atmospheric science major, shared high praises for the program.

“I would definitely recommend this experience to other students,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-life opportunity for undergraduates to get some research under their belt, while also learning about Taiwanese culture."

Group photo of students, faculty and alums of the U.S.-Taiwan PIRE Program.

Students, faculty and alums of the U.S.-Taiwan PIRE Program joined together for a reception on UAlbany's campus. (Photo: Patrick Dodson)

Cultural Exchange

Students from UAlbany returned to campus in mid-August, prior to the departure of their Taiwanese counterparts. The two groups met together for a reception, which also included PIRE faculty and alums.
For Li Zhang, the blending of cultures is what makes the program special.

“Most of these students have never studied abroad before,” said Zhang, who is the program’s project manager. “They are maturing by immersing themselves in another culture, and also making new friends.”

UAlbany students who complete the U.S.-Taiwan PIRE program earn five academic credits and take the first step toward graduating with Global Distinction.

Interested in learning more? Watch this U.S.-Taiwan PIRE video.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.