The integration of research with Education and Outreach is an important ingredient of our MRSEC’s mission aimed at preparing the future work force of materials scientists and engineers. Our programs provide undergraduate research opportunities, graduate student training, outreach to K-12 students and teachers, and community.
All MRSEC faculty contribute to the Education and Outreach activities described below.
Research Experience for Faculty and Students at Undergraduate Institutions
Our enhanced Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program recruits three or more faculty/student pairs from regional four-year colleges and universities to engage in summer research with MRSEC faculty, with the goal of providing a research experience which benefit both the participants and the MRSEC projects. It is expected that the professor/student pairs continue to expand on MRSEC-related research at their home institutions during the academic year.
Research Experience for Teachers
Each summer, three or more high school or middle school teachers are invited to participate in a MRSEC program “Research Experiences for Teachers” (RET). Teachers work on a research program during the summer, gaining first-hand experience with cutting-edge research and modern technologies. A summer stipend is provided. The relationships between the teachers and the researchers expand to include the teacher’s students during the following school year.
The goal of MRSEC outreach efforts is to inspire Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K-12) students by the excitement of materials research and to enlarge the pool of students who become future scientists and engineers. Outreach efforts take various forms, such as classroom visits and bringing K-12 students to the University of Nebraska. Visits to schools by MRSEC researchers provide hands-on science activities and demonstrate students the relevance of materials and nanoscience research. Bringing groups of K-12 students to University of Nebraska for tours and demonstrations of the MRSEC laboratories let students to know about scientific concepts and new technologies.
Established partnerships with three minority-serving institutions – University of Puerto Rico (UPR), California State University at San Bernardino (CSUSB), and North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT) form the core of our Bridge Program. The goal of the program is to provide a pipeline for recruiting promising undergraduate minority students into graduate programs. Participants are receiving targeted scholastic training, research fellowships, and summer research opportunities designed to enhance their academic qualifications, which together significantly improve the likelihood they will matriculate to and succeed in a graduate program. The bridge formed between P-SPINS and each partner will have three central elements: (i) activities at the partnering institute, (ii) summer research opportunities at Nebraska MRSEC; and (iii) recruitment into a graduate program.
This is an semiannual campus-wide science communication contest where undergraduate and graduate students are competing in communicating research to a general, non-technical audience in a town hall meeting-like setting. The objective is to learn to teach science to a diverse audience through engaging and unconventional presentations. Students are learning to communicate their research outcomes and to network with other scientists through the Frontiers Research Network, which partners with the Nature Publishing Group to serve as a community-oriented, open-access academic publisher and research network.
For more information about these programs, please contact:
Prof. Rebecca Lai
University of Nebraska
Department of Chemistry
651 Hamilton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0304
Phone: (402) 472-5340
Undergraduates in Research