Penn State welcomes Monash University guests to University Park for forum

Nathan Rufo
October 25, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Faculty and administrators from Monash University in Australia visited Penn State’s University Park campus Oct. 6-11 to discuss further activities in the partnership between the schools. The faculty were all part of joint Penn State-Monash projects funded by the Collaboration Development Fund. The purpose of the event, according to its organizer, Alexandra Persiko, was to provide a forum for multiple parties on each side to explore ways to further the already-strong partnership and projects.

“The forum proved that despite all the technology in the world, it cannot replace face-to-face meetings and the interactive spirit that goes on when you can huddle at a table and work out the details of a project,” said Persiko. “In addition, a true institutional linkage extends from faculty to students to staff, and involves all those with a stake in the partnership.”

“The forum this past week allowed for just that and set the stage for the next level of engagement with Monash,” Persiko added.

A group of researchers poses outside of Hintz Alumni Center

From left to right are Ali Borhan, Penn State; Jane Bourcke, Monash; Rebecca Bascom, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Simon Corrie, Monash; Slava Rotkin, Penn State; and Shashank Priya, Penn State.

IMAGE: Catherine Malizia

Visitors received tours of many Penn State facilities, including the Millennium Science Complex, the Sustainability Experience Center, and Beaver Stadium. They also had the opportunity to travel to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and meet with counterparts there.

The partnership has developed since the first round of seed funding, now seeking to create an area of focus which aligns with the strengths and priorities of the two universities. The decided focus for the second round — the Intersection of Health and the Environment — is intrinsically linked to two of the thematic priorities in Penn State’s Strategic Plan: Enhancing Health and Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources.

Provosts Nick Jones (Penn State) and Mark Parlange (Monash) pose for the camera.

Provosts Nick Jones of Penn State and Marc Parlange of Monash both attended the forum, which was held Oct. 6-11 at Penn State's University Park campus to facilitate continued partnership between the institutions. 

IMAGE: Catherine Malizia

Faculty from various disciplines are involved in projects funded under this umbrella. Areas represented from the Penn State side include agricultural and biological engineering, materials science, entomology, food science, and many more. Monash faculty bring expertise in a wide variety of fields as well, including biostatistics, chemistry, pharmacology, nanofabrication and more.

“We want to work together to do things neither side could accomplish on their own,” said Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas Jones in a speech to the forum participants on Friday morning. “This forum is a big step in that direction.”

Some examples of projects include looking into the ethics of technology in health care; connecting well-being, sustainability and citizenship through “ecologies of influence”; and research into understanding processes of bioanalytical sensors through nanomaterials. In all, 11 faculty groups, each comprised of one Penn State and one Monash faculty member, presented their work.

Heather Gall and Anna Lintern pose for the camera in front of a window

Penn State's Heather Gall, left, and Monash's Anna Lintern are working together on a project under the Collaboration Development Fund.

IMAGE: Catherine Malizia

In less than six decades since it was established, Monash has emerged as a modern, enterprising and highly international university, ranking consistently among the top 75 universities worldwide. The university has a remarkable record of translating expertise into genuine impact through initiatives like the World Mosquito Program, which is working to reduce mosquito-borne diseases, and the RISE Project, which provides vulnerable communities in Southeast Asia with access to clean water and sanitation.

“This partnership with Penn State leverages the unique strengths of both our institutions. In doing so, we hope it will make researchers from Penn State and Monash instrumental to addressing the most important challenges facing the world today,” Monash Provost and Senior Vice President Marc Parlange said.

A group of Penn State and Monash representatives in front of a colorful wall in a barn

One of the events of the week was a barbecue at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. From left to right are David Groenewegen, Monash; Libby Tubdall, Monash; Briana Ezra, Penn State; Jane Bourcke, Penn State; Elizabeth Brady, Penn State; Marty Trethewey, Penn State (behind Brady); and Adrienne Eichenlaub, Penn State.

IMAGE: Catherine Malizia

The trip wasn’t all work and no play. Attendees had the opportunity to relax and get to know each other socially, as well.

“Partnerships are built on relationships,” said Adrienne Eichenlaub, head of marketing and communications in Global Programs. Eichenlaub helped to plan most of the week’s events.

“Social gatherings can be just as important as work meetings in building long-lasting bonds.”

Some of these social events included a barbecue at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, a reception at the Nittany Lion Inn, and a farewell dinner at Toftrees Resort.

Nick Jones delivers a speech to the Forum delegation.

Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones delivers a speech to the forum delegation in the Hintz Family Alumni Center.

IMAGE: Catherine Malizia

Overall, the week was a great success.

“We’re looking forward to building towards a true strategic partnership with Monash,” said Rob Crane, interim vice provost for Global Programs. “We’re moving at a rapid pace, and we’re excited to see what we can do.”

For more information about Penn State’s partnership with Monash, or to find out how to get involved, contact Alexandra Persiko at or visit

Last Updated October 28, 2019