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Posted: September 10, 2009

Universities receive $3 million grant to bolster diversity among materials scientists

(Nanowerk News) Xavier University of Louisiana and New York University have received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bolster diversity among materials scientists through collaborative research and curriculum development. The award was one of eight awarded this year under NSF's Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program and funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Under its PREM grant, Xavier and the NYU Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC)—one of 31 NSF-backed centers that perform interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary materials research—will develop a materials science research core at Xavier and an undergraduate materials science educational program that will introduce a materials science track within the chemistry program at the New Orleans institution.
The research core will consist of several Xavier-NYU collaborative research projects that will enhance Xavier's research infrastructure and lead to advances in nanotechnology that affect society and the commercial sector. These include new materials for energy storage, smart magnetic assemblies for advanced medical imaging, and unique diagnostics tools for detection of cancer cells based on measurements of their mechanical properties at the nanoscale. The PREM also will employ tools that probe the nanoscale properties of crystalline materials relevant to the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors.
Under the education component, undergraduate students will be exposed, through PREM fellowships, to research laboratories at Xavier as early as their freshman year in order to stimulate their interest in materials science. During summers, Xavier undergraduates and accompanying faculty members will conduct research as teams with NYU MRSEC research groups. NYU graduate students will be paired with these teams, integrating both undergraduate and graduate students into a common and sustainable professional network.
The Faculty Resource Network at NYU, a professional development initiative that sponsors programs for faculty members from a consortium of over 50 colleges and universities, will assist in the coordination of several components of the Xavier-NYU PREM, ranging from student exchanges to symposia involving research scientists from the national PREM network.
The combination of the research core and the creation of the materials science educational program (MSEP) is intended to ensure that Xavier's undergraduate students receive the necessary research and educational skills to be successful in a materials science graduate program at any research-oriented university while creating a pipeline of underrepresented undergraduates prepared for careers in science disciplines.
The objective of the PREM program is to broaden participation of under-represented groups and enhance diversity in materials research and education by encouraging long-term, multi-investigator, collaborative research and education partnerships between women- and minority-serving colleges and universities, colleges and universities dedicated to educating a majority of students with disabilities, and NSF Division of Materials Research (DMR)-supported centers and facilities. The program was launched in 2004.
In 2008, New York University received a $7.2 million, six-year grant from NSF to create a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) to develop new materials through the exploration and manipulation of molecular particles.
Source: NYU
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