DURHAM – North Carolina Central University will receive $3.3 million from the National Science Foundation to support research in the field of advanced materials science through a program known as Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials, or PREM.
As a part of the program, students and faculty from Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) will be paired with students and faculty at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) to create new materials, functions, and applications in the field of advanced materials science, according to NCCU professor of mathematics and physics Marvin Wu.
“We have been doing work on nanomaterials for quite a while; this grant will allow us to engineer new properties and find new uses for them,” Wu said. “And Penn State has a world-class faculty and research facilities that we will have the opportunity to work with.”
In a statement, NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye noted that the university’s participation in the program will bolster learning and opportunity for students interested in conducting scientific research.
“This grant underscores NCCU’s commitment to provide a top-tier education for students in STEM,” Akinleye said. “Not only will the PREM partnership offer educational advantages, but also ensure that our students will gain significant skills necessary to move forward into advanced degree programs and establish fulfilling careers.”
In addition to supporting high-level research in the field of advanced materials science, the program aims to attract more minority students into the field of materials science.
“PREM is not only about research, but educational and professional development in order to prepare students for successful careers,” Wu said. The program will also provide students additional support and resources, NCCU noted in a statement, including coaching, assistance in applying for scholarships and internships, and assistance in the job search process.
According to an article in Science News, Black STEM majors made up only about 7 percent of bachelor’s, despite comprising 12.3 percent of the population.
“A focus on diversity of students, faculty, and partners—paired with the revitalization of under-resourced research—is the foundation of PREM and has been the source of many successful outcomes,” said Debasis Majumdar, director of the NSF PREM program, in a statement. “It expands national innovation capacity and a much needed, highly trained and diverse workforce, propelling U.S. leadership in STEM fields.”
NCCU is among eight minority serving institutions that will participate in the program. The program is co-funded by the NSF Division of Materials Research and the NSF Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program.