Biology PhD candidate to earn degree from two universities

Dec 12th, 2013

Kelly Foss

Biology PhD candidate to earn degree from two universities

Jake Coates, a PhD student in the Department of Biology has entered into a relatively unique agreement, enabling him to have his PhD degree awarded by two universities – Memorial University and Macquarie University in Australia.

A newly signed cotutelle, or ‘co-tutoring’ agreement between the two universities will see Mr. Coates spend one to two years on campus at Macquarie. While there he will work on a joint research project under the co-supervision from faculty from both universities.

Originally from Botwood, Mr. Coates completed his first year of university at the College of the North Atlantic in Grand Falls-Windsor. He went on to complete a B.Sc. (Hons.) with Dr. Paul Marino, head of Biology, before enrolling in a Masters program with Dr. Tom Chapman, studying the Australian gall-inducing thrips, an insect. He rolled that program of study into a PhD this past September.

“One year into my Masters I received an Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Australian government,” said Mr. Coates. “It got me to Australia for six months to do field and lab work on several thrips species.

“While there I discovered that Macquarie engages in cotutelle agreements and joint PhDs with a number of countries and that's where I got the idea.”

Cotutelle are relatively new for Memorial University. Mr. Coates is only the second Memorial student to benefit from such an agreement, though they are fully supported by the School of Graduate Studies.

“Cotutelle agreements allow our doctoral students to expand their professional networks and enhance their research experience,” said Dr. Noreen Golfman, dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

“This kind of program exposes students to new ways of thinking about and carrying out their research. At the institutional level, cotutelle arrangements strengthen Memorial’s connections with partner universities around the world, improve the quality of doctoral training, and allow us to recruit some of the best and brightest students.”

Macquarie, on the other hand, has provided international experience and enhanced career opportunities to approximately 175 cotutelle students since their first agreement in 1999.

“Macquarie University is delighted that Memorial University is joining our international PhD cotutelle program,” said Professor Ernie Jordan, director of the Global Programs Office at Macquarie. “With more than 100 partners in 30 countries this has proven to be a highly effective research collaboration approach, particularly the case in the biological sciences, where the often unique species and environments in Australia present great opportunities for comparative research and understanding.”

Mr. Coates agrees, and is looking forward the opportunities he’ll be encountering in Australia.

“I’ve done nearly all of my studies at Memorial, so I wanted to get as much variety in the researchers I’ve met, the places I’ve been and the different ideas I’ve been exposed to,” he said. “This gives me the opportunity to work in two different labs during the course of my PhD and have that many more connections available to me.”



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