October 5, 2000

NSF Pledges $19.9 Million for Research

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced last week that it would grant an additional $19.9 million to the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR). Once the foundation’s current $3.8 million annual grant expires, NSF will increase funding to Cornell’s leading technological program with the five-year award.

Additionally, Governor George E. Pataki committed $400,000 in state funds to match the NSF grant each year.

CCMR, formerly the Materials Science Center, includes nearly 100 faculty members from nine different departments. Many of the center’s researchers work in the physics and chemistry departments while others conduct research in various engineering departments.

President Hunter R. Rawlings III identified advanced materials research as one of three “strategic enabling research areas,” according to the Cornell News Service. Together with genomics and integrative molecular biology and information sciences, Cornell must attract major support for advanced materials research in order to remain a top-ranked university, Rawlings added.

Meanwhile, the statutory funds will be used solely in the CCMR industrial outreach program, which connects New York companies with Cornell researchers and facilities.

“New York has made a wise investment in research facilities at Cornell,” Pataki said. “The cutting-edge research being conducted at Cornell will help position New York to secure the high-tech, high-salary jobs of the future.”

The NSF award to Cornell is part of its $134 million, five-year grant distributed to 15 universities nationwide. The grant establishes funding for the creation of four new national research and education centers.

Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania were among other recipients of the federal grant.

NSF-sponsored centers work with industry to identify and address obstacles blocking future materials development. Much of the work takes place at the nanoscale level, just above the atomic scale. Research such as this requires specialized tools and expertise.

“The products of modern materials research impact our economy and our everyday lives,” said Thomas Weber, director of NSF’s Division of Materials Research. “The centers address fundamental science and engineering problems in the creation of new materials.”

CCMR promotes collaborative, interdisciplinary studies in broad areas of materials research through the formation of interdisciplinary research groups. The new NSF grant will support an additional research group for a total of five teams at Cornell.

The NSF grant will also fund four “seed” projects in new materials. These projects will receive additional support from the University and may lead to new material research groups.

“The Center cultivates these seed projects to enable our future. As the group’s scientific accomplishments grow, then seed groups may grow to become full-fledged new research groups,” said Neil Ashcroft, the H. White Professor of Physics and former CCMR director.

The NSF funds will allow the continuation of the various outreach programs that are part of CCMR, including educational outreach programs and industrial outreach programs.

The money from the grant will also support undergraduate and industrial outreach programs, such as the Research Experience for Teachers program.

In the undergraduate program, students throughout the nation cooperate with CCMR faculty on ten-week research projects. The industrial outreach program links companies with the center in joint research projects that involve students, faculty and industrial scientists and engineers.

Archived article by Peter Lin