(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University has been awarded one of six Partners for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) awards from the National Science Foundation as a result of the 2012 PREM competition.
The PREM award, which amounts to $3 million over five years, will help fund JSU’s research in the area of multifunctional nanomaterial.
“We are aiming to make nanosensors, which can be used in the purification of water and cleaning contaminants from food samples,” said chemistry and biochemistry professor Paresh Ray, who is the project’s principal investigator.
The funds also will help JSU researchers develop new materials including multifunctional hybrid nanomaterials made from gold and carbon nanotubes.
“This helps Jackson State continue materials research,” said Ray, who leads JSU’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. “Before PREM, we really didn’t have any materials research.”
The Jackson State University PREM also will fund educational and outreach activities including NanoDay events at local high schools, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the Memphis Zoo, and the development of a cooperative materials science Ph.D. program in partnership with the University of California at Santa Barbara MRSEC.
The PREM award is the second received by JSU. In 2006, the university received a $2.75 million PREM award, which Rays said helped bolster the success of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
Over the last five years, center researchers have published 78 papers in top-quality journals, Ray said, and high school and college students trained at the center have gone on to study at leading universities including Rice, Purdue and the University of California, Berkeley.
The other 2012 PREM award recipients include the California State University, Howard University, Norfolk State University, Texas State University – San Marcos and the University of Texas at El Paso.
The new partnerships will impact a wide range of materials research and education, including nanomaterials and nanotechnology, biomaterials and biotechnology, electronics, spintronics, soft materials, polymers and materials for renewable energy.
The objective of the PREM program is to broaden participation of underrepresented minorities and enhance diversity in materials research and education. This is accomplished by stimulating the development of formal, long-term, multi-investigator, collaborative research and education partnerships between minority-serving colleges and universities and NSF’s Division of Materials Research (DMR)-supported centers, institutes and facilities.
These awards were made possible through partnership with DMR; the EPSCoR program in NSF’s Office of Integrated Activities; and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program and Research in Disabilities Education program in NSF’s Education and Human Resources directorate.