Center for Emergent Materials awarded $18 Million NSF Grant to Support High-Impact, Cutting-Edge Science

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM) at The Ohio State University has been awarded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) funding for the third time since 2008. This $18 million, six-year grant will fund transformative science and complex materials discovery by two multidisciplinary, collaborative groups of researchers and includes funding to help ease entry into science from underrepresented groups.

“We are excited to have won this highly prized funding because it enables scientists to undertake complex and transformative projects at the scientific frontiers, and provides sustained support for diverse teams to collaboratively synthesize new understanding and open new research topics,” said P. Chris Hammel, Ohio Eminent Scholar, physics professor and director of the Center for Emergent Materials.

After an intense and highly competitive process, 11 MRSECs were funded for this cycle, bringing the nationwide total to 19. A flagship initiative for NSF, the MRSEC program funds research at the cutting-edge of scientific discovery by enabling teams of researchers to tackle scientific problems that are too large and complex for one person or one group to make an impact. These teams, called Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs), are made up of a diverse group of faculty, their students and postdoctoral researchers.

This funding will allow CEM to continue its history of excellence with two new IRGs, which aim to develop materials that grant improved control over magnetic properties, generating new paradigms in computing and information storage.

IRG-1: Creation and Control of Metal/Magnetic-Insulator Interfaces is co-led by Jinwoo Hwang, associate professor of materials science engineering, and Fengyuan Yang, professor of physics. This group will focus on magnetic interactions at interfaces between metals and magnets. The team includes faculty in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry, materials science engineering and physics at Ohio State and Carnegie Mellon University.

IRG-2: Topology and Fractionalization in Magnetic Materials is co-led by Joseph Heremans, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and physics, and Yuan-Ming Lu, associate professor of physics. Group members will focus on control of configurations and interrelationships between magnetic interactions that protect magnetic states against omnipresent disruptive forces. The team is made up of faculty in chemistry and biochemistry, materials science engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering and physics at Ohio State and Colorado State University.

“An important benefit of this funding is its support for a seed program that nurtures new science and prepares young scientists to be leaders,” explained Hammel. “For example, IRG-1 grew out of a project initiated by Prof. Jinwoo Hwang with seed funding support.”

Both of the IRGs were nucleated in the Ohio State’s Materials Research Seed Grant Program, an enterprising Ohio State program run by the CEM, the Center for Exploration of Novel Complex Materials (ENCOMM), and the Institute for Materials Research (IMR) that supports new developments in materials research.

A robust education, human resources and development (EHRD) program aimed at increasing scientific literacy and diversity from elementary school students through the faculty ranks rounds out the new initiatives this award will enable. CEM will continue to provide mentorship for high-needs K-12 students through outreach and tutoring programs. The externally funded Masters-to-Ph.D. minority Bridge Program, which increases the pool of faculty candidates from underrepresented backgrounds continues to be essential to CEM’s EHRD efforts.

“Center faculty and current bridge students are vital participants that provide research and academic mentorship and support to incoming bridge students,” said Michelle McCombs, CEM’s outreach and inclusion director. “Connecting new students to a network of Bridge peers eases the transition to graduate school life and provides a direct link to older students who are invaluable sources of advice.”

Additionally, CEM’s new Diversity Action Plan, founded on proven strategies employing concrete, measureable steps, is focused on improving faculty and post-secondary diversity.

“Through implementation of the additional strategies, we will have the opportunity to further expand prior efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion of the CEM in more meaningful and sustainable ways,” said La’Tonia Stiner-Jones, assistant dean of graduate programs in graduate education, assistant professor of practice in biomedical engineering and CEM’s senior advisor for diversity and inclusion.

Two CEM Faculty Receive Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

Prof. Jessica Winter, CEM’s Associate Director and member of IRG-2, and Prof. Rolando Valdes Aguilar, an IRG-1 faculty member and CEM’s Summer REU Director, received the 2020 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award from Ohio State’s Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry. This award was created to honor individuals who have demonstrated success in mentoring undergraduates in their research and/or creative inquiry endeavors.

Created only a couple of years ago, the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award relies on nominations from undergraduate students at any Ohio Sate campus. Prof. Winter was nominated for the award by Thomas Porter and Prof. Valdes Aguilar was nominated for the award by Elijah Kritzell. More information about these awards can be found on the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Physics websites.

Robert Baker Wins Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

CEM member Robert Baker, associate professor in Ohio State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was named one of 14 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars for 2020.

The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on institutional nominations, the program provides an unrestricted research grant of $100,000 to faculty within the first five years of their careers. To be selected, a faculty member must have created an outstanding body of scholarship and a demonstrated commitment to education.

Robert Baker will be using this award to fund his “Visualizing Charge and Spin Dynamics at Interfaces” project. He is the fifteenth Ohio State University faculty member to win the award since the program’s inception in 1970.

CEM Faculty Member Awarded OSU’s Distinguished Scholar Award

Nandini Trivedi, professor of physics and co-leader of CEM’s IRG-1, has been awarded Picture of Professor Nandini TrivediThe Ohio State University’s prestigious Distinguished Scholar Award. The Award annually honors six faculty members who demonstrate exceptional scholarly activity, research or creative work in their respective fields.

Professor Trivedi is an expert in quantum matter, specifically condensed matter physics and ultracold atoms. Her research in IRG-1 is based on investigating the novel phases and phenomena of spin-orbit coupling in correlated materials.

Professor Trivedi is also actively involved in CEM’s outreach activities. She is the founder and program director of our Scientific Thinkers program, a partnership between CEM and Columbus City Schools to develop and teach inquiry-based science lessons to first through fifth-grade students.

Recipients of the Distinguished Scholar Award receive a $20,000 research grant and $3,000 honorarium to pursue their scholarly activity, supported by the Office of Research.

Read more here.

2018 OSU Materials Research Seed Grant Awards

We are pleased to announce that after a thorough internal and external review process, 4 Proto-IRG, 2 MTBG, and 3 EMRG  awards have been selected to fund exceptionally promising, innovative materials research on campus through the 2018 OSU Materials Research Seed Grant Program.

The OSU MRSGP provides internal research funding opportunities through three distinct Funding Tiers designed to achieve the greatest impact for seeding and advancing excellence in materials research of varying scopes.  It is jointly funded and managed by the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM), the Center for Exploration of Novel Complex Materials (ENCOMM), and the Institute for Materials Research (IMR).

2018 Proto-IRG Grants
Proto-IRG Grants ($80,000 each) form new Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) that could potentially be incorporated into the renewal proposal of Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, in 2019.

  • Structure, Defects and Emergent Properties at Magnetic Interfaces
    Jinwoo Hwang, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Metamorphic Narrow Gap Antimonide Materials for Topological Insulators
    Sanjay Krishna, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Tunable Ferromagnetic and Antiferromagnetic Spintronics Based on Graphene Quantum Hall States
    Jeanie Lau, Department of Physics
  • Anionic Functional Materials
    Yiying Wu, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

2018 Multidisciplinary Team Building Grants
MTBG Grants ($60,000 each) support multidisciplinary materials research teams to compete effectively for federal block-funding opportunities

  • Sulfide-Based Lithium Superionic Conductors (LISICON) for All Solid-State Energy Storage Device
    Jung Hyun Kim, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • MOCVD Growth and Material Properties of Earth Abundant Semiconducting ZnSnN
    Hongping Zhao, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

2018 Exploratory Materials Research Grants
EMRG Grants ($40,000 each) enable nascent and innovative materials research to emerge to the point of being competitive for external funding

  • Mechanoelectric effects on bone mineralization as a stiffness modulator
    Hanna Cho, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Investigation of Boron-Based III-V Compound Semiconductors
    Tyler Grassman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Establishing Computational and Experimental Frameworks to Elucidate Magnetoelastic Interactions in Smart Metamaterials
    Ryan Harne, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering