West Virginia University signed a research agreement with one of Europe’s most respected research universities that is expected to greatly expand opportunities for collaborations between faculty, students and scientists in the U.S. and Italy.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by representatives of WVU and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, is focused on direct scientific collaboration in the areas of physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, biomedical sciences, social sciences, humanities and creative arts and design.

Curt M. Peterson, vice president for Research and Economic Development and president of the WVU Research Corporation, signed the five-year agreement for WVU. Vittorio Rocco, the University of Rome Tor Vergata’s dean of engineering, visited Morgantown to witness the signing.

“The agreement will facilitate an exchange program for graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, researchers and faculty for both our institutions,” Peterson said. “We will also develop joint proposals for new research funding and then conduct research together.”

Peterson said the universities will also exchange research information and conduct a series of meetings, seminars and courses.

Professor Renato Lauro, rector, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, was the signatory on the agreement for his institution.

WVU Associate Vice President for Research Mridul Gautam organized the agreement and said the effort is designed to broaden the scope of opportunities available for WVU students and researchers in the international arena. He said WVU would pursue other similar opportunities in the near future.

The University of Rome Tor Vergata is one of the largest research-based institutions in Italy. The University, established in 1981, has 44,000 students and 1,571 professors and offers a total of 126 undergraduate programs, 120 master programs and 79 Ph.D. programs. Research is carried out in 27 different departments and research centers.

The University of Rome Tor Vergata has attracted a range of external research institutions to its campus including the Italian National Research Council; the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Environment; the European Space Agency Center for Earth Observation; the Astronomical Observatory of Rome and the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics.

Recently, a new research consortium was created to develop a free-electron laser to bring together physicists, chemists, biologists and engineers in advanced research and experiments for the structural assessment of inorganic and biological material at the atomic level.

The university is also home to one of the most modern university hospitals in Italy.