Phase Transition in Korea-U.S. Science and Technology Relations

By Caroline Wagner; Anny Wong et al. | Go to book overview

3.
Views of Collaborating Scientists on the
Korean-U.S. Relationship

The RAND research team spoke to 20 U.S.-based scientists and engineers who have worked with Korean researchers in the past several years. About half of the researchers were identified through the use of RaDiUS, a RAND database that tracks federal R&D. These researchers, in turn, introduced the RAND research team to the rest of the interlocutors. We found during the interviews that half of the respondents were originally from Korea, although they were not prechosen based on this fact. They came to the United States initially for their graduate training and have stayed on to develop their careers in the United States. Comments from these ten interviewees reflect considerable familiarity with Korean society and the Korean scientific establishment. They also had sharper criticisms than others about S&T policies and institutions in Korea.

In the majority of projects covered in these interviews, scientists and engineers in Korea and the United States chose to collaborate because of shared interests in certain research questions. Generally, these bottom-up, curiosity-driven R&D collaborations between researchers in Korea and the United States were bilateral, involving generally one researcher/organization in each country. In a few instances, U.S. researchers served as advisors to projects in Korea but did not participate in the actual research collaboration. These collaborations represent a broad range of scientific research areas, including mechanical engineering, molecular biology, materials, mathematics, computer science, plasma, aerospace, high-energy theory physics, and chemistry. Most projects discussed in these interviews met their research goals, although some were considered more successful collaborations than others by the researchers.

In two-thirds of the projects discussed in the telephone interviews, respondents said that collaborative relationships began with face-to-face meetings between the partners. These meetings occurred at an international conference or on a campus in the United States when the Korean researcher was a graduate student, visiting professor, or research fellow. (This corresponds with data on Korean student and scholarly exchanges in the United States.) In several cases, collaborations that began in the United States continued after the Korean researcher returned to work in Korea, and thus the project became an international R&D collaboration. Most respondents reported that they continue to exchange information and data with their Korean counterparts after

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