by James Urton of UW
The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education and training in materials science. The Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program. The UW center is a partnership among UW faculty from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Engineering, the Clean Energy Institute (CEI) and the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES).
The new center builds on the UW’s record of innovative, collaborative and cross-disciplinary research in the materials sciences, and on a legacy of timely institutional and state investments in materials research at the UW. Initial research will focus on nanocrystals and thin films — toward goals such as developing new materials for applications in clean energy, photonics and quantum computing.
“The primary goal of the UW MRSEC is to empower the next generation of science and engineering leaders,” said center director and UW chemistry professor Daniel Gamelin. “This will involve engaging and supporting students and postdoctoral researchers — and giving them the research and educational experiences, training and cross-disciplinary mentorship that they will need to forge careers on the cutting edge of materials science.”
- Pursue so-called “moonshot” projects, which are research endeavors with potentially high payoff, but are generally beyond the feasibility of smaller research grants awarded to individual professors.
- Implement new cross-disciplinary training and mentorship programs for doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, including opportunities to conduct research with the center’s industrial and international partners, and with partners at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and at other National Laboratories run by the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Broaden educational and research opportunities for UW students and researchers, including advanced training on new equipment purchased with center funds.
- Expand outreach and mentorship efforts to high school students from underrepresented minorities to encourage them to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education as undergraduates.
- Implement comprehensive outreach efforts to recruit military veterans at the UW and at local community colleges into research and education for STEM careers.
- Provide support for additional doctoral and postdoctoral researchers.