The Mexican government signed a deal with the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday that will bring some of that country's top science and technology researchers to work temporarily in Austin.
Mexican government grants will pay for the trips so researchers can teach at UT-Austin and collaborate with faculty. The deal was signed during an on-campus meeting between university President Greg Fenves and a Mexican group including Foreign Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña.
No specific researchers have been picked, but school officials said they expect to make plans soon.
The arrangement expands a 2002 deal designed to give Mexican researchers access to UT-Austin's Mexico resources. For the past 13 years, the country has sent about eight scholars a year to Austin to study documents and artifacts in the school's LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. And some professors who have used those resources — usually legal or humanities scholars — have also served as visiting professors.
Now, the aim is to expand those visiting professorships to researchers who study science, technology, engineering and math. When in Texas, they'll work with UT-Austin professors on joint projects, officials said.
"There are many ways in which Mexico and Texas are intertwined — economically and socially — and having these research relationships flourish can have large repercussions," said Charles Hale, who runs the LLILAS Benson program.
UT officials said they couldn't immediately release numbers of how much the Mexican government will spend on the program. Mexican officials were unavailable to comment on the deal Thursday.
Many schools have research deals with the Mexican government, though most are arranged through the government's research arm. It's rare for such an agreement to be reached with a country's foreign secretary, however.
Meade Kuribreña was in Texas as part of a diplomatic trip in which he met with state leaders. University officials said they also discussed ways to increase collaboration between the school and the country, though they had no other new arrangements to report.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.