California State University, Long Beach has announced that at $500,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation will fund new undergraduate research opportunities in the expanding field of energy materials. A new interdisciplinary education program, the Keck Energy Materials Research Program (KEMP), will offer students a chance to prepare for graduate studies and careers in one of the most important areas of technological advancement in the global economy, according to the announcement.
“Discovery and characterization of novel energy related materials are critical to meeting future energy and technology needs of society, so it’s a very hot research area,” said Young-Seok Shon in a statement, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSULB, who also serves as the lead on the grant. “Nanostructured materials are generating great excitement both in fundamental science and in the prospects of developing new and innovative technological applications for the benefit of society.”
Three new courses will be developed through KEMP, a team-taught materials science lecture course, a materials science laboratory course and a colloquium for materials research. The three courses will be paired with existing chemistry and physics courses that will add to the foundation in materials science, alongside intensive training in faculty research laboratories. KEMP students will develop hypotheses and detailed research plans, participate in hands-on research, data analysis and interpretation and professional dissemination.
Working with Shon will be associate professor Xianhui Bu and assistant professor Shahab Derakhshan from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry along with associate professor Thomas Gredig and assistant professor Michael Peterson from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The team of five will collaborate to build a coordinated materials research and education program on campus.
Selected students will receive stipends for summer research as well as support student travel so they can present their research at national conferences. Each student will learn how to present their findings with the mentorship of faculty members with a complementary expertise.
According to the announcement, new state-of-the-art instrumentation will complement the existing equipment on campus so that students will learn how to operate sophisticated scientific instruments not commonly found at undergraduate institutions. The grant will also be used to support symposium speakers from nationally recognized materials science research programs.