University receives $17.8 million NSF grant for Materials Research Science and Engineering Center

February 19, 2015

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering announced today that it has received $17.8 million in renewed funding over the next six years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the University’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The University of Minnesota was one of only 12 universities nationwide, including MIT, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Chicago, chosen to receive NSF funding this year for a materials research center.

The University of Minnesota’s multifaceted Materials Research Science and Engineering Center was established in 1998 and received renewed funding in 2002 and 2008. The center’s primary mission is to conduct cutting-edge materials and nanotechnology research that enables important areas of future technology, ranging from biomedicine and electronics to security and renewable energy.

Science and engineering faculty and students study the specific properties of various materials to improve water treatment processes, data storage devices, pharmaceutical delivery systems, energy-efficient lighting, and more. The research center works with more than 30 local and national companies that contribute directly to research through intellectual, technological, and financial support.

“This funding from NSF is a vote of confidence that our materials research at the University of Minnesota is important and relevant on a national scale,” said Timothy Lodge, director of the University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. “Other supporting facilities at the University in nanotechnology, characterization, and computation and support from industry gave us an important edge in this very competitive funding process.”

In addition to research, the center’s activities are integrated with educational programs, providing interdisciplinary training of students and postdoctoral candidates. Researchers pursue international collaborations and student exchanges with leading research labs in Asia and Europe.

“Graduate education often tends to be narrowly focused in one discipline, but that’s not the case here in Minnesota,” Lodge said. “For example, our center offers a chance for a student in chemistry to learn what is happening in physics or mechanical engineering. Since many companies rely on a multidisciplinary, globally aware workforce, the experience our students gain from working with researchers in different fields here at the University and around the world gives them a leg up in the job market.”

Preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers is also a top priority for the University’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. The center helps fund busing cost for thousands of K-12 students to attend successful outreach programs on campus.

In addition, the center offers a variety of weeklong summer camps for high school students, including a planned new Materials Week specifically for Native American students. Many of the researchers also provide undergraduate research experiences for promising students from a national network of four-year colleges, minority-serving institutions, tribal colleges, and research universities.

For more information about the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, visit http://www.mrsec.umn.edu.

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