Photo of lead faculty from Illinois, left - Prof. Nadya Mason and, right - Prof. Virginia Lorenz

Materials science discoveries offer enormous value to humanity, and it’s a fascinating and rewarding area in which to pursue a career—but not every talented young person gains meaningful exposure to this field in time to pursue it. Now, under new seed funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), UIUC’s Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC) will partner with two other universities to provide undergraduates from underrepresented groups with robust pathways towards graduate study and eventual careers in materials science.

The grant is from NSF’s Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program, which nurtures research partnerships between minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and large-scale, NSF-supported research centers in order to expand opportunities in materials science and engineering for young researchers from underrepresented groups. The funds will help build a relationship between the NSF-supported I-MRSEC and two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Tennessee: Tennessee State University (TSU) and Fisk University. The relationship will be centered around collaborative research on low-dimensional polymeric materials synthesis and characterization, with some additional effort in production and modeling of heterostructures with 2D materials, all geared towards implementing devices that can actuate, vibrate, deform, and perform optical, electronic, and sensing measurements....

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