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Kenneth Award - MCDr. Zenon Medina-Cetina, associate professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, was presented the Kenneth L. Clinton Award for his work as the lead of the Yucatan Initiative Project at Texas A&M.

This year’s awards were given to Texas A&M University System faculty who have participated in research, academic and service programs in Mexico and Central America.  Medina-Cetina's efforts with the Yucatan Initiative Project has positioned Texas A&M at the forefront of scientific and technological collaboration between Mexico and the United States.

The Yucatan Initiative Project, sponsored by Yucatan's Department of Innovation, Research and Higher Education (SIIES) since 2014, has established a scientific, cultural and personal footprint between Yucatan's Research Consortium (SIIDETEY) and Texas A&M to solve regional problems and boost their corresponding states’ regional economies.  SIIDETEY's investment in the project exceeds $1 million.

The project has completed two phases among three Texas A&M colleges (engineering, agriculture and life sciences, and geosciences), more than 11 seed research projects, three academic programs and two service projects, with over 350 participants, including faculty, students and administrators from SIIDETEY and Texas A&M.

Some of the multidisciplinary and bi-national research projects include coastal dynamics, early warning systems, logistics, aquifers, energy harvesting, agro-biodiversity, animal science, water quality and agriculture production efficiency, among others.

Medina-Cetina's main research interest as part of the Yucatan Initiative includes the mapping of social, economic and environmental risks associated with geo-processes common to Yucatan and Texas. The next phase of the project will concentrate on geosciences to better understand the regional influence of the Gulf of Mexico as a system.

The main hypothesis of the Yucatan Initiative Project is that a strategic definition of a regional research agenda would result in stronger academic and service programs. That is the case of the CANIETI summer program, which was established to increase the number of Mexican students accepted into U.S. graduate schools. The program has hosted 131 students in the past three years, 24 of whom have been accepted to graduate programs at Texas A&M through a $2 million investment from the Mexican Science Foundation and other Mexican state governments and private sponsors to Texas A&M. 

Faculty recognized with the same award at Texas A&M include Drs. Edie Cassell, James Linder, Elizabeth Morris, Jeffery Musser, Ramesh Talreja, Gary Wingenbach, Jorge Vanegas, Thomas E. Lacher and Shankar P. Bhattacharyya.

Contributing author: Anna Heller