The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM)


The LRSM is the site of the Penn Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, MRSEC, and, in addition to the forefront research being carried out, it also undertakes a significant amount of educational outreach programming in conjunction with this research effort. Programs have been developed over the past twenty years to provide outreach to many diverse communities. These include K-12 students and their teachers, undergraduates, graduate students and post docs, minority students and faculty, the local scientific community, and the general public. Through these programs the LRSM-associated faculty, staff, and students interact with the aforementioned groups to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of the materials research work being undertaken in our Laboratory.

REU student

Research Experience for Undergraduates

The LRSM has hosted NSF-REU programs since 1989 during which approximately 500 students have spent 10 weeks working on individual research projects with our associated faculty.


Research Experience for Teachers

A program for Research Experience for Teachers from schools in the Delaware Valley was started in 1999. Teachers spend 6 weeks working on an individual research project under the supervision of a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of an LRSM-associated faculty member.

PSSI Students

Penn Summer Science Initiative

The LRSM has organized a free, four week summer program for local high school students interested in materials science and engineering since 1993. Typically 24-28 students, usually juniors but occasionally well qualified sophomores, are accepted.


Partnership for Research and Education in Materials, PREM

Research and educational collaboration takes place with faculty at UPR Colleges in Humacao, Rio Piedras, and Cayey via exchange visits, video-conferencing, organized symposia, and annual meetings which results in joint publications, improved facilities, and an increased number of students attending top flight graduate programs.

High School Teachers

High School Science Teachers

LRSM presents monthly series of materials-based lectures; workshops for teachers (laboratory experiments on materials) and a workshop on Science in Archaeology.

K-12 Outreach

K-12 Students

In addition to the PSSI program for high school students, the LRSM has other programs for K-12, including: A new, week-long program for middle school students who attend Girard College High school; various t.v. and videoconference lectures, like Science of Philadelphia; and laboratory tours of our facilities for K-12 students and their teachers

Philly Materials Science and Engineering Day

Philly Materials Science and Engineering Day

In conjunction with Penn and Drexel Universities’  MSE departments and the Nano/Bio Center at Penn, we have established a Philly Materials Science and Engineering Day after receiving  a small grant from the NOVA TV science program. The first PMSE Day was held on February 5, 2011 and drew a crowd of over 1000 people.

Philadelphia Science Festival

Philadelphia Science Festival

A new City-wide event, the Philadelphia Science Festival, was held for the first time from April 15-28, 2011. Research groups from Penn manned booths on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City to stimulate people’s interest in STEM careers. In addition, the Penn MRSEC sponsored two Science Cafes at local hostelries during the Festival.

Science Cafe

Science Café

In order to reach out to the general public, we have started a monthly series of materials-based Science Cafes. These are popular science talks on specific aspects of materials, eg fuel cells, solar power, etc., given by our affiliated faculty at a local restaurant/bar in a relaxed setting conducive to setting up a dialogue between the speaker and the audience.

Science in Archeology

Workshop for Teachers:
Science in Archaeology

A one day workshop on science in Archaeology is offered to local area high school teachers. This is composed of a morning session of three lectures, which is followed by lab tours of both the materials science center and, after lunch, the Museum's conservation department. It concludes with a trip to a local lost wax bronze casting foundry.

Collaborative with South Africa

Collaboration with South Africa

Since 2003 we have successfully partnered with universities in southern Africa, specifically Lesotho and South Africa, to bring four faculty members to the LRSM every summer to participate in collaborative research projects with our associate faculty.



In conjunction with the Philadelphia School District, we can now link the SEFs with school classrooms in real time using a recently purchased V-Tel teleconferencing unit and the School District's cable TV network.


Teachers’ Materials Science Workshops

Free, one-day materials science workshops for Delaware Valley high school teachers.  The workshops enable teachers to improve their knowledge of materials science and learn how to perform high school level materials science laboratory experiments, which illustrate many concepts in this field.

Burstein & Maddin Lectures

Burstein Lecture / Maddin Lecture

Part of our outreach to the local scientific community includes two named lecture series that are presented annually, one in materials science for Emeritus Prof. Robert Maddin, MSE, and one in Physics for Emeritus Professor Elias Burstein, Physics.

Past Programs

Past Programs

Details of some past programs can be found here.



The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter
University of Pennsylvania / 3231 Walnut Street / Philadelphia, PA 19104-6202, USA
tel: 215-898-5425 fax: 215-898-8296
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