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NSF awards Texas State $3.1 million for materials science partnership with Research Triangle

Posted by University News Service

May 23, 2012

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Texas State University-San Marcos $3.1 million for research and education in materials science and to form a partnership with the prestigious Research Triangle institutions in North Carolina.

The grant will fund the first five years of a collaboration between the Texas State Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the Research Triangle, which includes students and faculty from Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University.

The goal of the NSF program – titled Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials – is to broaden participation and increase diversity in materials research and education. The program creates partnerships between existing MRSECs and minority serving institutions. Texas State was officially designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education in March 2011. Hispanic Serving status is achieved when a university’s undergraduate Hispanic enrollment reaches or exceeds 25 percent of total enrollment.

Benefits of the program to Texas State include access to personnel and facilities at the Research Triangle MRSEC, student and faculty exchanges and increased exposure to high-level academic research and facilities.

Texas State President Denise Trauth said the university was an attractive candidate for the NSF grant program because of its Hispanic Serving status, its recent (January 2012) designation as an emerging research university by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and its new doctoral degree program in materials science, engineering and commercialization.

“It is our sincere intent to increase the number of under-represented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Receiving this grant is a significant event that will help us achieve that goal and augment the growing research reputation of Texas State,” Trauth said.

William Brittain, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State, is the project’s principal investigator.

“PREM grants are intended to foster exchange between well-established, major research universities and emerging research universities like Texas State that possess a rich cultural diversity. This has been a truly collaborative team effort, and I believe that played an important role in the success of our application,” said Brittain.

Brittain is joined by eight other faculty members from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on the Texas State PREM team. They are Gary Beall, Tania Betancourt, Chad Booth, Ozcan Gulacar, Jennifer Irvin, Benjamin Martin, Luyi Sun and Steve Whitten.