ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, along with its partners in the ARL South region, held a summit to highlight ARL South's research partnerships and achievements over the past year.

The meetings at Rice University in Houston, Texas, April 24-25, focused on research partnerships in the areas of power and energy, artificial intelligence/machine learning, synthetic biology, human performance, human agent teaming and cybersecurity.

More than 160 people from ARL and 19 universities attended the two-day event that officials described as a "resounding success."

"Participants reached consensus that existing research engagements must be integrated more holistically as part of ARL's overarching technical strategy and communicate more effectively to all partners," said Heidi Maupin, ARL South regional lead. "Bringing these universities together in one place to discuss ARL collaboration provided an opportunity not only for ARL networking into the universities, but for the universities to network with each other."

Professor Yousif Shamoo, Rice's Vice Provost for Research, gave the welcome and participated heavily in the summit.

"Rice was delighted to have the opportunity to host the inaugural partnership summit," Shamoo said. "The launch of ARL South and the participation of so many universities is a bold step towards realizing our aspirations to fully partner and collaborate across an incredible spectrum of research activities."

Shamoo said that by the end of the summit it was clear that each university had so much to offer.

"Together, I think we can make a tremendous impact and I am truly excited to see the next steps we take together," he said.

Dr. Michelle Atchison, associate vice chancellor for Federal Relations at the University of Texas System along with Dr. Martin Scholtz, executive associate vice president for research at Texas A&M System provided valuable insights into the ways their systems can support the entire community of institutions in the area of the ARL South. They are from the two largest Texas University Systems.

Participants also received an overview of ARL's essential research areas and listened to talks given by vice presidents of research from each university represented throughout Texas and surrounding states. The VPR's explained how each university can help fill technical gaps in order to help support a modernized Army.

"The attendees from universities and business represented a remarkable breadth of scientific disciplines and research competencies," said Dr. Alexander Kott, ARL chief scientist who presented the ERA overview. "It was a highly effective way for all parties to build awareness - rapidly -- of each other's strengths and priorities."

Dr. Patrice Collins, ARL's outreach special program manager, led a special session on science, technology, engineering and math education, or STEM, and discussed the importance of diversity.

Briefings from a historically black university and seven minority serving institutions also participated in the discussions.

"Meeting face-to-face helps cement the research relationships we have established," Maupin said. "It ensures that we are all aware of the path we are taking and the importance of our roles as we tackle Army specific problems leading to rapid Army modernization."

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The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.