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CSUN Physics Faculty Receive $2 Million NSF Grant to Encourage Diversity in Scientific Research, Education

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(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Jun. 5th, 2012) ―

California State University, Northridge has been awarded a $2.38 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue a collaborative partnership with Princeton University that provides undergraduates an opportunity to work alongside Northridge and Princeton professors on cutting-edge research in the area of materials science.

Gang Lu

The goal of the NSF Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program is to broaden participation of underrepresented minorities and enhance diversity in materials research and education.

Cal State Northridge was one of six institutions to receive the PREM grants, which are designed to stimulate the development of formal, long-term, collaborative research and education partnerships between minority-serving colleges and universities such as CSUN and the NSF’s Division of Materials Research-supported centers, institutes and facilities such as Princeton. This is the second time Northridge has received a PREM grant. The first time was five years ago.

“The latest grant helps us maintain long-term collaboration with our colleagues at Princeton that gives our students a rare opportunity to do cutting-edge research with faculty here at CSUN and at Princeton” said Northridge physics professor Gang Lu who will direct the PREM Center. Lu and physics professors Nicholas Kioussis and Donna Sheng at CSUN’s W.M. Keck Computational Materials Theory Center will work with other faculty members and postdoctoral fellows at CSUN on this project along with their Princeton collaborators.

Lu and his colleagues focus on fostering multidisciplinary and innovative research in computational materials science; educating and training students in cutting-edge computational materials science; stimulating and developing strong laboratory partnerships between industry and CSUN; and increasing the recruitment, retention and degree attainment of underrepresented students in the field of materials research.

Their efforts include outreach to local high school students and teachers. Among their projects is a summer workshop for teachers about the basics of computational materials science and experiments they can do with their students.

Lu said one of the highlights of the grant is the financial support it provides, in the form of stipends, to Cal State Northridge undergraduate students so they can focus on their studies, which includes doing research with faculty. It also finances their ability to travel to Princeton during the summer to do research with faculty there.

“The undergraduate students are totally immersed in their studies and research and really get a chance to think seriously about continuing in the science fields. The students with research training could have a significant advantage of being admitted to top graduate schools such as Princeton.” Lu said.

Computational materials science uses computer codes to understand how electrons interact with atoms on a nanoscale level. The research can have direct applications to clean energy, next generation computing and nanotechnologies.

Cal State Northridge’s College of Science and Mathematics is home to several nationally recognized programs where students gain valuable experience through hands-on work using the latest technologies and equipment. Students also have an opportunity to co-author publications with faculty members and present their research results at national and international meetings.

California State University, Northridge is a regionally focused, nationally recognized university serving more than 34,000 full- and part-time students in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. Founded in 1958, Cal State Northridge is among the largest universities in the nation and is ranked among the top universities for bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students. It has nine colleges and more than 2,000 faculty members who teach courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in 69 disciplines, master’s degrees in 58 fields and doctorates in education and physical therapy, as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Continuously evolving and changing to meet the needs of California and the nation at large, the university is home to dozens of acclaimed programs where students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty and industry professionals, whether in the sciences, health care and engineering or education, political science, the arts and the social sciences.



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