Education and Outreach - RET

Research Experience for Teachers

Each summer, two or more high school or middle school teachers are invited to participate in a MRSEC program “Research Experience 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. MRSEC members visit the high or middle school at monthly intervals, bringing hands–on science activities and showing examples of how materials research affects their lives.


RET participants in

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003


In the summer of 2017, the following teachers joined the MRSEC team:



Matt Mueller, Concordia High School, Omaha
worked with Christian Binek, Physics.

"Our goal for this project was to show that a relativistic correction is required to accurately calculate the wavelength of a diffracted electron from the reflection high energy electron diffraction (RHEED) system. By taking pictures of RHEED patterns at varying accelerating energies, we were able to analyze each image and determine the spacing between streaks in the RHEED pattern. A mathematical fit was then applied to the data to determine if the correction was necessary. Improvements still need to be made to the mathematical fit in order to show clearly the distinction between the classical and relativistic models."


Emily Jennings, Lincoln East High School
worked with Stephen Morin, Chemistry.

"This summer I researched the durability of a decyltrichlorosilane continuous gradient on a PDMS surface. Towards the end of the summer, we started working on alternating different silanes with a periodic gradient template. Karla and I looked at the effect of the different lengths of the carbon chain for the silane and how the different chemical properties affected the gradient's slope. We also manipulated the templates to make the ideal template for the different chemistries of the silanes."

Steven Wignall, Seward High School
worked with Stephen Ducharme, Physics.

"This summer I again had the great opportunity to do research with Professor Ducharmes' group. My experiences continued with the fabrication of different Diisopropylammonium (DIPA) salts that I started last summer. My role was to assist in the growing of these salt crystals and help contribute to find a reproducible way of doing this consistently. This has been become a main emphasis of the group, and it was very interesting and beneficial for me to be involved in this aspect of the research.

Besides this, I continue to assistance in the educational outreach of NCMN and MRSEC to Nebraska science teachers and students.“

Melissa Terry (Lincoln High School)
worked with Stephen Ducharme, Physics.

"During my time with Dr. Ducharme, we worked on growing DIPA-I salt crystals. Our goal was to fine-tune a method for producing pure DIPA-I salt with very few impurities. We tried many different methods—manual drip, automatic drips, buret drip, and water bath—and spent a great deal of time working to reduce the amount of HI3 impurity, which gave the salt a yellow-brown color. Some of my time was also spent working with fellow RET participant Steve Wignall, assisting with several workshops for middle- and elementary-school students."


Courtney Matulka (Beadle Middle School, Millard)
worked with Rebecca Lai, Education and Outreach Director.

"As an eighth-grade science teacher, I instruct students about the smallest of the small (atoms) and the largest of the large (astronomy). In my work this summer with the MRSEC RET project, I created video blogs depicting cutting-edge research happening in materials science at UNL. I captured footage of professors, graduate students, and undergraduates describing their research and working in the laboratory, and then constructed short and engaging YouTube videos that can be used to educate the public about P-SPINS research. This experience will impact and influence my science instruction. Whether it's teaching about atomic structure, outer space, or alternative energy resources, I will be able to use the vlogs with my students to expand their scientific knowledge by relating concepts they are learning to current developments happening in nanoscience."