The CNRS office in Washington D.C.

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Our office

The CNRS office in Washington D.C. represents the CNRS in the United States and Mexico. Our actions are aligned with the priorities defined, on one hand, by the strategic plan of the CNRS and, on the other hand, by the ten thematic institutes of the agency. Accordingly to the interdisciplinary polish of the CNRS, the office does not showcase a specific thematic and covers all research fields.

In the United States and Mexico, the CNRS contributes to scientific research thanks to structuring collaboration tools. Bilateral agreements, concluded with partners of excellence and the main research and financing institutions in both these countries, offer many possibilities for collaboration and enable researchers from the CNRS to engage in long-term scientific cooperation. 

Motivated by a steadily growing number of co-publications and transatlantic collaboration tools, the United States is now one of the CNRS’s main international partners.

The CNRS, pioneering scientific cooperation with the United States and Mexico

It is in 1947, just after World War II, that the scientific office of the CNRS in New York is created, jointly with the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). It follows the transatlantic migration of several French scientists, including Louis Rapkine, head of the scientific office of French exiles. It was then the institution’s bridgehead in North America, fostering collaborations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In 1946, he obtained for the CNRS two important grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, for the equipment of laboratories and the organization of international conferences. In 1984, the office leaves New York to settle within the Embassy of France in Washington D.C.

In 2022, a CNRS office opens in Ottawa, Canada, leaving the CNRS office in Washington responsible for US and Mexican partnerships.

Today, the CNRS has more than 70 structured collaborations with Mexico and the United States, and continues to develop new ones each year. The office has now been working for more than 70 years to publicize and promote the CNRS expertise, and beyond it, the French research in the area.

Our missions

Representation & promotion

A permanent link between the CNRS and Mexican and American institutions, our office showcases the CNRS's scientific expertise in both countries, and includes the EU and multilateral institutions in its reflections and actions.

Development

Our aim is to identify North American prospects, research centers of excellence and other opportunities for collaboration, and to successfully bring together French and North American scientific players.

Support

Supporting researchers is at the heart of what we do. We support CNRS institutes and researchers as well as their partners, and assist existing structural partnerships where necessary.

Monitoring

We keep abreast of science and technology news in the United States and Mexico, and identify key research topics. This monitoring enables us to document the region's science policy landscape via our "AdN" newsletter, and to inform expatriate French researchers of opportunities to return to France via our "Le fil de Marianne" newsletter.

Our team

Sylvette Tourmente photo

Sylvette TOURMENTE

Head of office

Photo Jeanne 2

Jeanne REVIL

Project manager

Photo Erell 3

Erell GLOAGUEN

Program manager

Institutional partners

CNRS's main partners in US and Mexico : the Universities

In the United States and Mexico, the CNRS’s main collaborative partners are the Universities, major players in the American and Mexican research landscape.
Our International Research Centers (IRC)
In the United States in particular, CNRS has two International Research Centers (IRCs), large-scale structuring partnerships on an institutional level, with the University of Arizona and the University of Chicago. Founded in 1885 by Jacob Samuel Mansfeld, the University of Arizona (UoA) is one of the top public universities in the United States. Located in Tucson at the tip of the U.S./Mexico border, UoA is also one of the leading universities in the state of Arizona. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), it also ranks as a “Research 1 University” in the Carnegie classification, with $687M in annual research spending. The UoA ranks 9th in the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency’s) annual ranking of “good performers” in renewable energy. In addition to being a world leader in the environmental sciences, with the presence of the Biosphere2 closed ecosystem, an extraordinary tool for experiments under highly controlled conditions, the university is particularly renowned in the field of astronomy, making the UoA the North American institution that receives the most NASA grants. In the same vein, it has numerous telescopes at the Steward Observatory and Astronomy Department. The Mirror Lab designs the mirrors for giant telescopes over 8m in diameter. According to a US News ranking, the university is ranked in the top 10 for astronomy-related research. The University of Chicago (UChicago) was founded in 1892 on Chicago’s South Side. Throughout its history, research at UChicago has led to advances in a wide range of fields, from medicine and evolution to the humanities and social sciences, economics and sociology.The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a university of excellence in a variety of disciplines, and is regularly ranked among the top 10 universities in the world, along with other American universities. In 2022, it will rank 10th in both the Shanghai and QS World University Rankings (WUR). According to this British company, in 2023, many of UChicago’s disciplines are well ranked internationally: Economics is ranked 4th and Anthropology 6th. In the Physical Sciences division, the Physics and Chemistry departments rank 11th and 25th respectively. The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering ranks 3rd in the U.S. for research funding per faculty member. The University of Chicago counts 97 Nobel laureates among its faculty and alumni (including Barack Obama).UChicago demonstrated the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, which served as the basis for the development of the first form of clean energy – nuclear power – and led to the founding of Argonne National Laboratory.
Our International Research Laboratories (IRL)
CNRS has also formed close partnerships with 6 universities to formalize International Research Laboratories (IRL):
  • University of California at San Diego
  • George Washington University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • Michigan State University

In Mexico, the CNRS’s main partner is the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – UNAM), the country’s largest public university and one of the world’s top 100 research universities, with which we have a Laboratory and a number of bilateral projects. With over 250,000 students and several campuses in Mexico and around the world, it is one of the largest universities in the world and a partner of excellence for research in Latin America.

Other international research projects (IRP) and networks (IRN) are conducted with the University of Monterrey (Universidad de Monterrey) and the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México – UAM).

Three other Mexican universities stand out for their rate of joint publications with the CNRS: the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional – CINVESTAV), the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (Benemerita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla – BUAP) and the National Polytechnic Institute (Instituto Politécnico Nacional – IPN).

Key players in US and Mexican research, excluding universities

US Research agencies and organizations

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is both the only funding agency (exclusively “extra-mural”) and the only multidisciplinary agency. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1950, it provides funding for over 2,000 American universities and companies, representing more than 11,000 projects with an average selection rate of 28%. Its contribution represents around 20% of the federal government’s contribution to basic research at universities. It plays a role in financing major facilities (notably cyber-infrastructure, for which it is investing several hundred million euros) and new structures of excellence such as Science and Technology Centers (STC) and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers (NSEC). The NSF is particularly active in promoting science and mathematics education. It is active in primary and secondary education, as well as at university level.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DoHHS), is the main source of funding for medical research, and the largest non-defense item in the federal R&D budget. Approximately $30 billion – $37 billion in 2019 – is invested annually, 80% of which is used to fund some 325,000 researchers and 50,000 grants across 3,000 universities, medical schools and other research centers. The NIH operates on an intramural basis in the NIH laboratories (located mainly in the suburbs of Washington, DC) and also as a funding agency, largely subsidizing university research (around 80% of its budget). Relatively independent of each other, the activities of each institute are coordinated by an Office of the Director.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency: NASA’s research and development activities cover both space exploration and space-related research, development and transfer.
The Department of Energy (DOE), with its National Laboratories, Technology Centers (Fermi National Accelerator, Stanford Linear Accelerator, etc.) and very large-scale facilities, is one of the major players in US research, particularly in the physical sciences, energy and large-scale computing. It is involved in both military (in the nuclear field) and civil research, sometimes going far beyond energy-related fields (genome research, climate research, carbon sequestration, etc.).

The Department of Defense (DOD), in particular DARPA, is the U.S. Department of Defense agency responsible for developing emerging technologies for military use. It is a key element in the American landscape. The DoD’s main focus is on development, but the proportion devoted to fundamental research remains significant.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), under the Department of Commerce (DoC), is responsible for describing and forecasting changes in the environment. Responsible for coastal and marine resource conservation, as well as meteorological observation, it is a key player in federal climate change programs.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the Department of Commerce (DoC): heir to the Bureau of Standards, NIST plays a major role at the interface between academia and industry. By developing the technologies needed to set standards, it helps improve industrial productivity and facilitate trade. Facilitating trade and industrial development is a key component of its mission.
The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) is a model of government-university-industry interaction. It is also a leading center for research and infrastructure in certain fields, such as nanotechnology, and includes several recent Nobel Prize winners.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is an office attached to the Executive Office of the President of the United States, at the White House, and whose role is to advise the President in the field of science and technology in relation to the domestic and international policies of the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an independent agency responsible for environmental protection.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Department of Interior (DoI) are also involved, but to a lesser extent, in R&D efforts in the USA.

Mexican Research agencies and organizations

The National Council of Humanities, Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Humanidades, Ciencias y Tecnologías – CONAHCYT), Mexico’s equivalent of the US National Science Foundation, is a decentralized public agency of the Mexican federal government. The Conahcyt sets government policy on science promotion and technological development, and distributes grants for graduate and postgraduate studies. It funds research projects, researcher networks and international projects, and validates Master’s and Doctorate level training at Mexico’s public universities (one per state, plus other, more technological university sub-systems). It also manages some thirty thematic research centers (all disciplines) of excellence throughout the country. Finally, it hires young researchers (Research Chairs) in public universities, in order to strengthen the research capacities (particularly in the provinces) of state universities.

Other institutions

When it comes to science and technology in the United States, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has become a must. Created in 1863 as the federal government’s scientific reference for the advancement of science and technology, this non-governmental organization is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), along with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

When it comes to science and technology in the United States, it is an organization that has become indispensable. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an independent professional association, has existed since 1848. It publishes R&D policy analyses, newsletters, books, reports and journals, including the million-circulation “Science” magazine. It is an authority on the American R&D landscape, and organizes scientific events that attract far more than just its members.

In the academic world, University Associations have naturally taken on an important role. They enable the various players to group together by area of interest and to speak with a single voice. TheAssociation of American Universities brings together the 62 most prestigious research universities. Although in competition with one another, they share common themes (organization of fund-raising campaigns, educational choices, etc.). TheAmerican Council on Education (ACE) brings together the presidents of 2,000 institutions representing 80% of all students. TheAssociation of Public and Land-grant Universities(APLU) is the oldest higher education association, bringing together 186 public research universities for 3.5 million students.
The National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (Asociación Nacional de Universidades e Instituciones de Educación Superior – ANUIES) is a non-governmental, pluralist association of Mexico’s leading higher education institutions (211 public and private universities and colleges). These institutions aim to promote their integral improvement in the fields of teaching, research and the extension of culture and services.
The National College (Colegio Nacional) is a public institution dedicated to the dissemination of scientific, artistic and humanistic culture, founded in 1943. Every year, it organizes over 300 academic and cultural activities, and welcomes around 30,000 visitors to its facilities. Today, it boasts a community of over 430,000 people.

French partners in the United States and Mexico

In the United States and Mexico, the CNRS works with French institutional partners and other research organizations. In addition, the CNRS office in Washington D.C. is housed, along with other research organizations, within the Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States.