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Amid Trump tensions, Mexico and UC schools announce new collaboration on research

Amid Trump tensions, Mexico and UC schools announce new collaboration on research
UC President Janet Napolitano, here speaking before the UC Board of Regents in February, is visiting Mexico this week to discuss a variety of issues with Mexican officials. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Mexican officials have announced $10 million in new funding to support binational research projects on energy efficiency with the University of California.

The money, announced in Mexico City on Thursday after Mexican energy officials met with UC President Janet Napolitano, will go to projects led by Mexican research institutions in collaboration with UC researchers.

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Napolitano, who is meeting with a variety of Mexican officials this week, has been vocal about her desire to press ahead with academic collaborations with Mexican academics and institutions despite rising tension between Mexico and the U.S. under President Trump. That includes research related to climate change, an area of research that is under threat under the new U.S. administration.

Napolitano, who served as Homeland Security secretary under President Obama, said the energy efficiency research will help Mexico and California achieve a "common long-term goal of finding solutions to the biggest challenges that humanity faces."

"What works in Mexico will help Californians," she said in a statement. "Just as what works in California will benefit Mexicans."

She met Thursday with Mexican Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, who is seeking proposals from Mexican researchers on a host of projects, including those involving lighting technology, energy, water efficiency and "smart" building. Up to $10 million will be awarded.

In order to be eligible for funding, projects must include the active participation of UC researchers.

Napolitano is visiting Mexico several days this week to promote the UC-Mexico Initiative, which she launched in 2014 to bring together U.S. and Mexican academics and institutions in several key areas, including energy, the environment, education, health, and arts and culture.

The initiative has addressed a range of issues, including how Mexican schools are absorbing an estimated half a million students who spent time in U.S. schools but have since returned to Mexico. The initiative organized a conference on the issue in Mexico City last fall.

Twitter: @katelinthicum

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