Tomatoes, Wildfires and Rats: Three France -UArizona new International Emerging Action Projects

Feb. 27, 2023
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Since its inauguration in the spring of 2021, the France – Arizona Institute for Global Grand Challenges has sought to foster collaboration between the University of Arizona and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). One such form of collaboration are International Emerging Actions* (IEAs), which explore new fields of research through international collaboration. These two-year projects connect scientific researchers from CNRS with scientists from institutions such as the University of Arizona to initiate joint research projects. Last year three IEA projects were created between CNRS and UArizona. Though vastly different in topic, each new project seeks to answer previously unexplored questions to address some of the worlds’ most pressing issues.

Pollination tomato

 Ravi Palanivelu, associate professor of plant sciences at the University of Arizona  and Cécile Bousquet-Antonelli, scientific deputy director of the Institute of Biological Sciences at CNRS, are trying to figure out how climate change affects pollination. Their project, “translational regulations in male fertilization in Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato,” will build on previous findings that a plant’s mRNA storage, decay, and translation changes when the plant is exposed to heat stress. Bousquet-Antonelli and Palanivelu’s IEA project will continue exploring heat stress's effects on the mRNA translational process in tomato plant pollen. They will also conduct a comparative study between tomato plants and the Arabidopsis thaliana (the thale cress). As the planet becomes warmer, it is increasingly important to understand how plants react to changes in temperature. 


Corsica fire

 The researchers working on the IEA project “Mediterranean wildfires: historical environmental drivers and ecological consequences” are also seeking to understand the impact of climate change on an environment’s flora, looking at black pines. These fire-prone trees cover large areas of the Mediterranean region, and understanding how they cope with large- and small-scale fires is important as wildfires become more common. Over the two years that the IEA is active, researchers will connect specialists of fire history, climate, biodiversity, and ecophysiology through travel and collaborative meetings. The project is jointly led by Valerie Trouet, professor at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona; Peter Z. Fulé, professor at the School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, and head of the Forest Ecology Lab; and Christopher Carcaillet, professor at the EPHE and researcher at the CNRS Natural and Anthropic Hydrosystems Ecology Laboratory in Lyon. They aim to promote healthy and resilient ecosystems by reducing differences between natural and managed landscapes to retain the social and economic benefits they provide.


Biochemical engineering

Last but not least, Dr. Philipp Gutruf, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Arizona, will collaborate with Dr. Jerome Montnach, CNRS researcher in Nantes with expertise in cardiac arrhythmias and photoactivatable compounds, to test the implantation of a device into the hearts of live rats. The device, already developed by Dr. Philipp Gutruf, allows cardiac optical control of ion channels in the heart, targeting heart arrhythmias. If successful, the project will prove that photopharmacology can be used not only as a fundamental tool to decipher implication of ion channels in biological processes but also as a pre-clinical tool to locally modulate them, an important step forward in the field of biomedical innovation. This IEA collaboration will lead to high impact publications and/or patents and will considerably increase the visibility of both laboratories. 


International Emerging Action Projects is one of several collaborative channels between the University of Arizona and CNRS. International Research Projects* (IRPs) are collaborative research schemes between one or more CNRS laboratories and one or two laboratories from other countries. The aims of IRPs parallel those of IEAs but last five instead of two years. CNRS has also created International Research Networks*, which organize partners in France and internationally to host workshops, seminars, and collaborations across common themes. One component of these networks is International Research Laboratories* (IRLs), which are located at partner universities and bring together researchers from CNRS and partner institutions. The University of Arizona’s iGLOBES is an IRL focused on environmental research.

CNRS is currently developing International Research Centers with the goal of strengthening strategic partnerships with institutions presenting a significant volume of cooperation with the CNRS institutes across different areas of study. The France - Arizona Institute at the University of Arizona is the inaugural International Research Center. While the center itself is a mechanism for cooperation, it also helps coordinate more specialized projects, such as the IEA’s described above. The France-Arizona institute hopes to continue to foster cutting-edge research through collaboration with local and international scientists through future IEAs, IRPs, and other avenues. 

To learn more about CNRS collaborative mechanisms or create and develop collaborations with France, please reach out to the FA Institute.


* Learn more about CNRS international tools of cooperation

International Emerging Actions  



International Research Projects 



International Research Laboratories