Published: July 7, 2023 By

Four students at a poster presentation.
Above: Four 2022 summer program students at a poster presentation.
Header Image: Participants in the 2022 Materials Science and Engineering summer research program.

Undergraduate students interested in materials research will get a boost at the University of Colorado Boulder next summer thanks to a new Research Experience for Undergraduates grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Materials Science and Engineering Program is receiving a three year award from NSF to support a 10-week summer program that pairs students from across the country with CU Boulder’s top researchers in the field.

The effort is particularly focused on hosting students from smaller and minority serving institutions that may not have large research budgets said Professor Stephanie Bryant, director of the Material Science and Engineering program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“I’m super excited. Our job as a university is to educate students and the ability to do this over the summer and give them a research experience – which for many may be their first research experience – is outstanding and enables us to have a broader impact beyond Boulder,” said Bryant.

The new program will start in summer 2024. Interested students will complete an application in spring 2024 to be reviewed by faculty and staff. Selected students will then spend 10 weeks working full time on an materials-focused research project and will receive funding for travel and a stipend along with housing in on-campus apartments.

Faculty and students in the materials science and engineering program conduct work across a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, sustainability, nanotechnology, and advanced computing.

The material science program has hosted undergraduates for summer research programs the past two summers, but those efforts relied on faculty with pre-existing funding whereas this initiative will provide dedicated support.

“This really opens up opportunities for both students and faculty,” Bryant said. “Students will have more options for the kind of projects they can work on and faculty can participate – even if they don’t have standalone funding from the National Science Foundation.”

The ultimate goal of the summer initiative is to encourage more students to pursue careers in research.

The Research Experience for Undergraduates program will particularly focus on “Engineering Materials for a Healthy World,” with enrolled students able to conduct interdisciplinary work with materials in energy, health, and infrastructure.

The initiative also has a seminar series for participants that aims to bring together materials science with science justice, science policy, and social justice.

“Students are the next generation and they’ll be solving hard problems. We want to get them thinking about justice and policy and how the work they do impacts people across socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities so they can have long term positive impacts in the world,” Bryant said.