The world is experiencing dramatic changes in many ways including social, environmental, political, and technological forces. Research universities play a critical role in helping to understand and shape these forces. Given their scope and impact, collaborative work involving faculty across countries is key, as is the work of faculty from many different disciplines.

It is in this spirit that we host McDonnell Academy International Symposium Workshops.
Details and registration updated regularly.


September 16 | 8:00 AM CST

Global partnerships for engineering in pubic health

Convener: Guy Genin, Washington University in St. Louis
Co-conveners: Daphne Wiehs, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Yanan Du, Tsinghua University

The 90-minute workshop will feature brief talks from four renowned plenary speakers, followed by a structured panel discussion on ways to bridge fields and international boundaries to ensure a prepared, connected, and diverse workforce for combatting global emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Plenary talks:

Micro-tissues as platforms for innovation across disciplines

Yanan Du, Vice Dean for International Affairs in the School of Biomedical Engineering at Tsinghua University, China, is a leader in the field of micro-tissue engineering. Prof. Du developed the first artificial liver tissue system whose use was successful in identifying a target compound to fight the deadly disease of liver fibrosis, and has made contributions to the battle against cardiac fibrosis. This work has been recognized with a range of international awards from Bayer, Janssen, and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and by the Changjiang Scholar award from China.

Bridging disciplines to fight cancer

Daphne Weihs, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel is a pioneer in the application of bioengineering and mechanobiology approaches to understand, diagnose, and treat disease. Her recent inventions include atechnology to rapidly determine the likelihood for cancer metastasis, the often lethal spread of cancer in the body. The unique and innovative test for metastatic likelihood, which takes only two hours, can enable physicians to identify appropriate treatment protocols for specific tumors and has been much celebrated by the community and the media. Prof. Weihs is recognized internationally for this and other works and serves as the President of the Israel Society for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Preparing the STEM workforce of the future, today

Freddie E. Wills, Jr., Assistant Vice President for STEM Initiatives at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, USA, is a leader in the developing systems for enhancing the training of students from diverse backgrounds in cutting edge STEM research. His successes include leadership in the US NSF-sponsored Missouri Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (MOLSAMP) program, a collaborative effort designed to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) disciplines and increase the number of students receiving advanced degrees and training in STEM disciplines. Dr. Wills serves as Principle Investigator of MOLSAMP at HSSU.

Platforms for rapid discovery of treatments for disease

Feng Xu, Professor and Vice Dean of Life Sciences and Technology at the Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, is a leader in the development of materials for understanding how healthy and diseased cells respond to forces and to potential drugs. His innovations include models of cancer that are now widespread as testbeds for patient specific evaluations of drugs. Prof. Xu has received a number of international awards, including recognition from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and recognition for outstanding innovation from the Chinese government. He serves as founding director of the XJTU Biomechanics and Bioinspired Engineering Center.

Moderator: Guy Genin, Harold and Kathleen Faught Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Washington University and Thousand Talents Professor of Life Sciences and Technology at Xi’an Jiaotong University, studies interfaces and adhesion in nature, physiology, and engineering.  He has been recognized for this work with awards including the Skalak Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Eads Medal from the St. Louis Academy of Science. Prof. Genin co-directs the Center for Engineering Mechanobiology, an NSF Science and Technology Center housed at Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania, with several other satellite locations.

15 OCTOBER | 10:00-11:30 AM CST

Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Child Savings Programs in Israel and Uganda 

Convener: Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Washington University in St. Louis
Co-Convener: Olga, Kondratjeva, Washington University in St. Louis

Features presentations and a discussion about asset building for long-term child development and CSA programs in Israel and Uganda. The event is hosted by McDonnell International Scholars Academy and presented by SPI and the International Center for Child Health and Development at WashU.


21 OCTOBER | 10:00 AM CST

Transforming Health & Medicine: Big Data & Digital Technologies Institute for Informatics (I2) & Universidad del Desarrollo (Santiago, Chile)

Convener: Randi Foraker, Washington University in St. Louis
Co-convener: Maurizio Mattoli, Universidad del Desarrollo


The Origin of Eurasian Food-way and Cuisines: Environmental challenge and culinary solutions to Food Globalization in Prehistory

Convener: Xinyi Liu, Washington University in St.Louis
Co-convener: Petra Vaiglova, Washington University in St. Louis

23 NOVEMBER | 10:00 AM CST

A Comparative International Approach to Jurisdiction at the International Criminal Court

Convener: Leila Sadat, Washington University in St. Louis
Co-convener: Madeline George, Washington University in St. Louis


COVID impact on HIV Prevention

Convener: Shanti Parikh
Co-convener: Elvin Geng, Washington University in St. Louis and Julia Lopez, Washington University in St. Louis