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Jackson State University-University of California, Santa Barbara






The vision of the proposed JSU-UCSB PREM is to provide opportunities for under-represented minority (URM) participants to become next generation materials scientist through innovative research and education in emerging research areas via synergistic interaction between JSU and UCSB. African-Americans represent 98 percent of the minority population in Mississippi and 37 percent of its citizens, giving it the highest concentration per capita of this minority group in the nation. Jackson State University (JSU), the fifth largest Historically Black University (HBCU) and the only urban university in Mississippi, has a unique opportunity to attract and retain minority students, especially African Americans, in the educational pipeline. JSU-UCSB partnership will provide resources to train students and develop faculty collaborations in three new emerging materials science research areas with the addition of five new faculty members from JSU  and four new faculty members from the UCSB side. The main goal of this PREM proposal is to bring together unique resources from JSU and UCSB to: 1) address scientific issues of national and global priority through pioneering research and education in materials science; and 2) educate new generations of URM research scientists and students in innovative, interdisciplinary areas of investigation.

The Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) at UCSB: an NSF MRSEC will play a key role in guiding the further development of materials research at JSU.  It will provide the resources to train students and address scientific issues of national and global priority in three new emerging materials science research areas: 1) Bio-inspired 3D Nanocomposites with Superior Mechanical Strength and Toughness, 2) Air Stable All-Inorganic Perovskite-Based Optoelectronic Materials and 3) Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMDs) Based Mixed-Dimensional Heterostructured Materials.  Since UCSB team members are experts in developing optimal, bioinspired strategies for processing and manufacturing multiphase, graded materials, MRL will be an important resource for emerging 2D and 3D materials design and characterization in the proposed project. A multi-faceted approach to fulfilling these goals is proposed, beginning with a vigorous exchange of research personnel.

The MRL will also provide the infrastructure and support staff to allow JSU undergraduates and master’s students to visit and work for extended periods at UCSB in an effort to increase the number of minority students entering graduate schools at both UCSB and JSU.  The MRL will also provide assistance through visits to JSU and expertise being provided, in an effort to upgrade research laboratories and to improve the curriculum.  Finally, the world-class facilities at the MRL will play a major role in the PREM program through research infrastructure development at JSU as well as providing full access to JSU students and faculty at no cost during the length of the PREM grant.  Ultimately, numerous minority students and women will be involved in the materials research at both JSU and UCSB. Through innovative degree programs and lecture courses, our PREM allows the development of JSU as a center of excellence in advanced 2D and 3D materials research while significantly impacting the diversity, educational, and outreach activities at UCSB.

To develop the next generation of URM materials scientists, we propose a collaborative training program which will be central to education and training of graduate and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups. The students will be exposed to UCSB faculty and researchers through lectures, research visits, and use of the state-of-the-art facilities at UCSB’s MRL. Students will have the option of conducting PhD research at JSU or at UCSB. The UCSB MRSEC will provide joint courses, seminar speakers and UCSB faculty will serve on thesis committees of PREM students enrolled in the graduate program at JSU. Similarly, JSU faculty will serve on thesis committees of UCSB students working in PREM-related research topics.

UCSB will also provide summer research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students via collaborative Summer Materials Science Program.  We propose to recruit four to six JSU undergraduate science or engineering students and two graduate students per year to participate in the UCSB MRL’s summer REU program.  This will serve to encourage JSU students to pursue graduate work in Materials Science, to increase the diversity of the intern group at UCSB, and strengthen the overall collaboration between JSU and UCSB. The selected students will participate fully in the MRL internship program, which accepts close to 20 undergraduate interns per summer.  Students are individually matched with research projects and mentors, and reside in UCSB apartments for the duration of the 10-week program.  Interns will be provided with a stipend, housing and travel allowance.  In addition to their individual research projects, students will participate in weekly intern group meetings where they practice oral and written communication skills, culminating in presentations at an annual Summer Research Intern Colloquium.

The major goals of this JSU-UCSB-PREM program are:

  • To provide opportunities for minority students to participate in Materials Science and Engineering research at both JSU and UCSB and acquire skills necessary for scientific inquiry and discovery.
  • To expose students to the collaborative nature of the scientific enterprise by bringing together a core group of faculty from two institutions whose scientific pursuits complement each other and which are interdisciplinary in nature.
  • To develop a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research team to solve daily life problems by creating innovative materials and using smart nanomaterials based technology.
  • To strengthen the MS and Ph.D. programs focusing in Materials Science at JSU by creating multi-institutional courses and attracting new graduate minority students to the program.
  • To increase STEM awareness in materials science for K-12 and the local JSU community in general.

The research will focus on the development and application of new materials with several subprojects which are characterized as cutting-edge world class research with highly collaborative research teams between JSU and UCSB.  The educational objectives of this program include the following. 1) Collaborative Masters/PhD advising at JSU and UCSB with research experiences at both institutions with a strong focus on Materials;  2) Graduate recruitment targeting Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and HBCU-UP programs nationwide that serve underrepresented STEM students; 3) Enrichment programs for URM participants that include Special Topics Lectures, Journal Clubs, Visiting Speaker Series, Scientific and Technical Writing workshops, Proposal Writing workshops and participation at Professional Meetings;  and  4) Programs for URM  K-12 participants in materials science research and education activities. UCSB will play a critical role in establishing the materials research and educational activities in the proposed PREM program. The world-class facilities at the UCSB-MRSEC will provide the infrastructure and support for PREM participants to work for extended periods at UCSB. UCSB summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program will act as a prime vehicle for JSU minority PREM members to acquire summer research experiences at UCSB. 

Principal Investigator : 
Paresh C. Ray