Partnership for Research and Education in Materials, PREM

UPR PREMThe LRSM has participated in a highly successful Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) with the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) since 1998 (originally the program was called a Collaborative to Integrate Research and Education, CIRE). Research and educational collaboration has taken place with faculty at UPR colleges in Humacao, Rio Piedras, Cayey, and Bayamon via exchange visits, videoconferencing, symposia, and annual meetings. The PREM effort has led to joint publications, improved facilities, and an increased number of students attending top tier graduate programs. Emphasis is also placed on engaging UPR undergraduates in research projects with faculty both at UPR and PENN and on attracting high school students into STEM careers. The impact of the PREM program in Puerto Rico has been significant; from 2009-2014, over 20,000 people participated in PREM education and outreach activities.

In September, 2015, the NSF Division of Materials Research awarded the PENN-MRSEC a third PREM grant, which runs from 2015 through 2020. During this period PENN will continue to collaborate with the faculty of UPR campuses at Humacao, Cayey, and Bayamon.

This program’s research component has two themes:

IRG 1, Multi-functional nanodevices from optoelectronic materials

Primary goal: synthesize, characterize, and manipulate novel optoelectronic nanomaterials in order to gain fundamental understanding about their transport mechanisms and explore their potential device applications.

IRG 2, Nanoscale interactions of macromolecules at soft and hard interfaces.

Primary goal: develop an understanding of the nanoscale interactions of macromolecules at the interfaces of soft and hard materials with the long-range goal to assemble nanomaterials into macroscopic structures that have designed properties and functionality.

PREM 11.2013

Faculty and students attending the Annual Research Meeting in Humacao, November 2013

The education component is carried out primarily at UPR, but includes Penn participants at both institutions via a Joint Annual Meeting in November and a Spring Symposium series in May. A series of educational lectures is also videoconferenced to UPR by PENN participants throughout the school year to complement a materials seminar series at UPR. Lastly, PENN sends participants to Puerto Rico to assist in the annual Experimenta con PREM program for high school students.

video conference 2.5.15

Professor Jorge Santiago, Electrical and Systems Engineering, PENN, giving a videoconferenced seminar to UPR students, February, 2015.

Gene Mele

Professor Gene Mele, Physics, PENN, lecturing during the Spring Symposium, May, 2013.

Participants in these programs include:

Idalia Ramos, PI, IRG 1 Leader, Professor, Physics and Electronics, UPR-Humacao
Arjun G. Yodh, Co-PI, IRG 1, Director, LRSM and MRSEC, Professor Physics & Astronomy, PENN
Ritesh Agarwal, IRG 1, Professor Materials Science & Engineering, PENN
Vibha Bansal, IRG 2, Associate Professor, Chemistry, UPR-Cayey
Rocío Cardona, IRG 1, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, UPR-Bayamón
Ivan Dmochowski, IRG 2, Associate Professor, Chemistry, PENN
Ezio Fasoli, IRG 2, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, UPR-Humacao
Feng Gai, IRG 2, Professor, Chemistry, PENN
Mohammad Islam, IRG 1, Associate Research Professor, Materials Science & Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
Gilda Jiménez, Education, Chemistry Teacher, Petra Mercado High School, Humacao
Alan T. Johnson, IRG 1, Professor, Physics & Astronomy, PENN
Jay Kikkawa, IRG 1, Professor, Physics & Astronomy, PENN
Daeyeon Lee, IRG 2, Associate Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, PENN
Mark Licurse, Education, Education Director, LRSM-MRSEC, PENN
Andrew McGhie, Education, Associate Director, LRSM-MRSEC, PENN
Eugene Mele, IRG 1, Professor, Physics & Astronomy, PENN
Gary Z. Molander, IRG 1, Professor, Chemistry, PENN
Preston Moore, IRG 2, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Univ. of Sciences in Philadelphia

Results from Previous Support

During the 2009-2014 grant period, the PENN-UPR PREM research and education thrust areas engaged 12 faculty members from UPR (Cardona, Guadalupe, Jiménez, C. Ortiz, Otaño, Negrón, Pantojas, Pinto, Ramos, Sotero, Vedrine and Zimbovskaya) and 16 faculty members from PENN (Agarwal, Campo, Johnson A., Johnson R., Kagan, Klein, Kikkawa, Licurse, Liu, McGhie, Mele, Moore, Murray, Ponte, Santiago and Yodh). Cardona (UPRB) and Vedrine (UPRH) were new female faculty members. The research and education activities were centered on two main topics: “Materials for Nano-electronic Devices and Sensors” and “Mathematical Modeling and Simulations of Materials”.

The research collaborations in 2014 were as follows:

  • Devices based on PEDOT-PSSA, P3HT, and SnO2 Nanostructures. N. Pinto (UPR), A.T. Johnson (Penn)
  • Electron Properties of Various Nanosystems,. N. Zimbovskaya (UPR), R. Johnson, and Mele (Penn)
  • Nanostructures for gas sensing applications, V. Pantojas and V. Otaño (UPR), Santiago (Penn)
  • GPUs for MD Simulations of Liquids . J. Sotero (UPR), R. Johnson (Penn), P. Moore (USP)
  • Electrospinning of nitrides, oxides and CNT composites; integration with microtechnologies for sensors and actuators. I. Ramos (UPR), J. Santiago, E. Campo (Univ. Of Wales), J. Esteve (CNM, Spain)
  • Development of electrochemical devices for the detection of pathogens, A. R. Guadalupe (UPRRP)
  • Mathematical modeling and simulations of material instabilities, Drosophila wavefronts, and EDLC’s, P. Negron (UPR), and Santiago (Penn), A Liu (Penn), Sivalonagathan (U. Bath, UK)
  • Hybrid organic-inorganic heterostructures for solar cells; Device fabrication with self-assembled materials. J. Vedrine (UPRH), Murray and Kagan (Penn)

As a result of this collaboration over the period 2009-14, research productivity from UPR during the report period included 69 publications, 44 with students as co-authors (note, these students are predominantly undergraduates) and 17 with PENN and UPR co-authors; 350 presentations were given, 270 with student co-authors. In addition, 112 PREM students graduated during the 2009-2014 cycle: 81 HS (64 from Experimenta con PREM), 25 BS, 2 PhDs, 4 post-docs. Sixty-four percent of the graduates were women. Of the 25 BS graduates (60% women): 14 enrolled in PhD programs and 11 are employed in industry.

Frequent interactions between partners (Annual Joint Research Meeting, Summer Program at Penn, Spring Research Symposium, Experimenta con PREM, and others) have kept the collaborations active and evolving. PENN and UPR interactions during the 2009-14 award period included 45 extended visits (faculty and students) from UPR to PENN and 78 visits from PENN to UPR.