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.

CEM Creates Professional Development Course for Graduate Students

CEM has created a professional development course for STEM graduate students that will launch in Spring 2020. The course will give Ph.D. students the opportunity to develop skills in resume and CV writing, job searching, interviewing, and salary negotiation, to name a few. Students will network and interact with professionals from across the Ohio State campus to develop their skills and deepen their understanding of how to manage their professional and personal lives in diverse settings.

The Graduate Student Professional Development Course (PHYS 7891) takes place on Thursdays from 10:30-11:30, starting January 9, 2020. The course instructors are CEM Director P. Chris Hammel and CEM Outreach and Inclusion Director Michelle McCombs.

More information about the course can be found on the class’ website and a syllabus can be found here.

CEM and New Mexico Highlands Awarded PREM Funding from NSF

CEM and New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) were recently awarded a Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) grant from the NSF. Prof. Ezekiel Johnston-Halperin (IRG-2) is the co-PI. The objective of the PREM program is to broaden participation and enhance diversity in materials research and education by stimulating the development of long-term, multi-investigator research and education partnerships between minority-serving colleges/universities and NSF materials-related centers and facilities.

As part of the PREM, two new materials science courses will be designed at NMHU in collaboration with OSU. Multiple exchanges will take place during the course of the program, with CEM participants delivering guest lectures and seminars at NMHU, as well as multiple visits by NMHU students and faculty to conduct research or participate in the CEM Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) program. NSL facilities will be used directly and to provide expert advice to NMHU from NSL staff. Additionally, there will be a PREM Annual retreat alternating between Las Vegas, NM and Columbus, OH.

The Center looks forward to future research and collaboration in partnership with NMHU.

Volunteer at Science Day

We need your help!Science Day 2015

Science Day at Innis Elementary
Thursday, May 7, 2015
8:00AM-11:00AM or 12:00PM- 3:00PM

CEM is in need of 50+ volunteers to participate in Science Day- a field day devoted entirely to science at Innis Elementary School on May 7th, 2015.

  • It’s really fun!
  • Make a difference at an inner-city school
  • Promote STEM to future scientists
  • CEM students and faculty are requested to participate in outreach annually

Stations include but are not limited to: silly putty, water rockets, lasers and gummy bears, paper airplanes, geodesic domes, bubbles and surface tension, germs, bugs, and more!

Volunteer opportunity is open to all at OSU. To sign up, please email Alex Reed(.1028).

CEM participates in annual campus-wide outreach event: Breakfast of Science Champions

BOSC 2014

CEM students Yu-Sheng Ou and Andrew Berger demonstrate how a hard drive works to a group of local middle school students.

CEM students, faculty, and staff hosted a group of middle school students on Thursday November 13th for the annual campus-wide outreach event, Breakfast of Science Champions. CEM students ran two demonstrations: the superconducting train and ‘Nanomagnetism: How Does my Hard Drive Work?’ The Nanomagnetism demo was designed and built by CEM students and has been adapted for use at the Boston Museum of Science.