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Wisconsin-Puerto Rico PREM

Wi(PR)2EM Mission

The mission of the Wisconsin - Puerto Rico Partnership for Research and Education in Materials [Wi(PR)2EM] is to strengthen and broaden past collaborations between the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) by leveraging and augmenting the reach of such alliances to develop a formal long-lasting relationship in nanostructured materials research and education. The Wi(PR)2EM promotes the formation of a strong strategic partnership by fostering and expanding current and emergent research projects in collaboration with UW’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Interfaces (MRSEC) and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center on Templated Synthesis and Assembly at the Nanoscale (NSEC) and by combining research and education expertise found in the participating institutions into truly synergistic groups.

Undergraduate student Ronald Carrasquillo-Flores and graduate student Damian Reyes-Luyanda analyzing bifunctional mesoporous catalysts with SEM.

Wi(PR)2EM Research, Education, and Outreach Goals

Wi(PR)2EM fulfills its mission by achieving the following goals:

  • Develop a formal long-lasting relationship in nanostructured materials research and education that builds on and strengthens past informal interactions.
  • Implement interdisciplinary education programs that foster strong, effective, and productive educational impact with special focus on Hispanic populations.
  • Provide effective mentoring to young faculty at UPR in research, education, and career development.
  • Promote and develop industrial interactions between UPR students and faculty and industrial partners of the UW MRSEC and NSEC through the UW Advanced Materials Consortium.

Organization and Project Description

Wi(PR)2EM impacts a diverse collection of research areas organized into four interdisciplinary research teams (IRT) and one interdisciplinary educational and outreach team (EOT):

  • IRT 1. Host-defense peptide-mimetic foldamers and polymers as targeted antimicrobial agents, P. Ortiz-Bermúdez, (UPRM leader), S. Gellman, (UW leader), M. Torres-Lugo, J. López-Garriga, K. Riley, J. J. de Pablo, N. Abbot, and S. Palecek

IRT 1 combines expertise in the design, synthesis and structural analysis of discrete oligomers and polymers intended to display antibacterial and/or antifungal activity with knowledge in microbial biology to analyze the mechanism by which these novel molecules exert antimicrobial effects. In addition, IRT 1 explores polymer self-assembly with the goal of identifying encapsulation or hydrogel-forming materials that manifest intrinsic antimicrobial activity.

  • IRT 2. Nanoparticle Heteroaggregation and Transport in Porous Media, S. Hwang (UPRM leader)

We are in the process of phasing out IRT 2. Key personnel left the PREM or was integrated into IRT 3.

  • IRT 3. Liquid crystalline elastomers and gels, A. Acevedo (UPRM leader), N. L. Abbott (UW leader), U. Córdova, C. Rinaldi, F. M. Aliev, J. J. de Pablo , and R. Hamers

IRT 3 uses a concerted theoretical and experimental effort for the rational design of colloidal liquid crystal gels and nano-composite liquid crystal elastomers, thereby allowing us to identify the origins of experimentally observed behaviors and to design or dial-in specific thermodynamic, mechanical, and optical responses that rely on advanced molecular models of the materials considered in our work.

  • IRT 4. Multifunctional Nanoporous Materials for Sustainable Catalysis, N. Cardona-Martínez (UPRM leader), J. A. Dumesic (UW leader), A. J. Hernández-Maldonado, M. Mavrikakis, P. Voyles, and M. C. Curet-Arana

IRT 4 also combines experimental and theoretical work to develop and characterize hierarchical catalytic materials with various functionalities and porous polymeric materials with pillared layered structures.  Our hypothesis is that the rational combination of surface functionality and pore structure will enable design of novel materials for the sustainable conversion of biomass resources into renewable fuels and chemicals and for removal of bulk CO2.

  • EOT. Education and Outreach in Materials Science and Engineering and Nanotechnology, J. López-Garriga (UPRM leader), A. L. Gillian-Daniel (UW leader), N. Cardona-Martínez and A. Greenberg

José L. Contreras Mora gives an explanation during NanoDays 2012 at the Mall.

  Wi(PR)2EM leverages the highly regarded educational center established by UPRM professor López-Garriga, called Science on Wheels Educational Center (SONW) that coordinates the Education and Outreach activities of Our program. We are implementing interdisciplinary education programs that foster strong, effective, and productive education impacts. The EOT conducts activities dedicated to three primary groups: K-12 teachers and students, undergraduates, and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers such as: Research Experiences for Teachers, Module Training, Mentoring Experience, Materials Science Certificate, REU, Research Exchanges, Grad School Readiness Workshops, Young Faculty Mentoring Program. The last NanoDays at the Mall took place on April 25, 2015. Wi(PR)2EM has an external advisory board (EAB) that evaluates the progress of our PREM on a regular basis and helps us identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. The last EAB meeting took place on April 4, 2014.  Wi(PR)EM faculty and students are included in the UW Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium (UWAMIC) membership. All Wi(PR)EM faculty hold Adjunct Fellow positions in the UW Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Peer Reviewed Publications


Oyola-Rivera, O.; Baltanás, M. A.; Cardona-Martínez, N. CO2 hydrogenation to methanol and dimethyl ether by Pd–Pd2Ga catalysts supported over Ga2O3 polymorphs. Journal of CO2 Utilization 2015, 9, 8-15.  DOI link

Rosario-Alomar, M. F.; Quiñones-Ruiz, T.; Kurouski, D.; Sereda, V.; Ferreira, E. B.; Jesús-Kim, L. D.; Hernández-Rivera, S.; Zagorevski, D. V.; López-Garriga, J.; Lednev, I. K. Hydrogen Sulfide Inhibits Amyloid Formation. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2015, 119 (4), 1265-1274.  DOI link


Santiago-Rodríguez, Y.; Herron, J. A.; Curet-Arana, M. C.; Mavrikakis, M. Atomic and molecular adsorption on Au(111). Surface Science 2014, 627, 57-69. DOI link

Riascos-Rodriguez, K.; Schroeder, A. J.; Arend, M. R.; Evans, P. G.; Hernandez-Maldonado, A. J. Hysteretic adsorption of CO2 onto a Cu2(pzdc)2(bpy) porous coordination polymer and concomitant framework distortion. Dalton Transactions 2014, 43 (28), 10877-10884. DOI link

Medford, J. A.; Hubbard, J. W.; Orange, F.; Guinel, M. F.; Calcagno, B. O.; Rinaldi, C. Magnetothermal repair of a PMMA/iron oxide magnetic nanocomposite. Colloid and Polymer Science 2014, 292 (6), 1429-1437. DOI link

de la Cruz Montoya, E.; Guinel, M. F.; Rinaldi, C. Preparation of magnetic polymer colloids with Brownian magnetic relaxation. Colloid and Polymer Science 2014, 292 (5), 1191-1198. DOI link


García-Ricard, O.J., Meza-Morales, P., Silva-Martinez, J.C., Curet-Arana, M.C., Hogan, J., Hernández-Maldonado, A.J. Carbon Dioxide Storage and Sustained Delivery by Cu2(pzdc)2L [L= dipyridyl-based ligand] Pillared-Layer Porous Coordination Networks. Microporous and Mesoporous Materials 2013, 177, 54. DOI link


García-Ricard, O.J., Silva-Martinez, J.C., Hernández-Maldonado, A.J. Systematic Evaluation of Textural Properties, Activation Temperature and Gas Uptake of Cu2(pzdc)2L [L= dipyridyl-based ligands] Porous Coordination Pillared-Layer Networks. Dalton Transactions 2012, 41, 8922. DOI link

Diestra-Cruz, H.; Rinaldi, C.; Acevedo, A. Rheological, optical, and thermal characterization of temperature-induced transitions in liquid crystal ferrosuspensions. Journal of Applied Physics Letters 2012, 111 (7), 07b308. DOI link

Reyes-Luyanda, D.; Flores-Cruz, J.; Morales-Pérez, P.; Encarnación-Gómez, L.; Shi, F.; Voyles, P.; Cardona-Martínez, N. Bifunctional Materials for the Catalytic Conversion of Cellulose into Soluble Renewable Biorefinery Feedstocks. Topics in Catalysis 2012, 55 (3), 148-161. DOI link

Curet-Arana, M.; Meza, P.; Irizarry, R.; Soler, R. Quantum Chemical Determination of Stable Intermediates on CO2 Adsorption Onto Metal(Salen) Complexes. Topics in Catalysis 2012, 55 (5-6), 260-266. DOI link

Pagán-Torres, Y. J.; Wang, T.; Gallo, J. M. R.; Shanks, B. H.; Dumesic, J. A. Production of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural from Glucose Using a Combination of Lewis and Brønsted Acid Catalysts in Water in a Biphasic Reactor with an Alkylphenol Solvent. ACS Catalysis 2012, 2 (6), 930-934. DOI link


Hwang, S.; Martinez, D.; Perez, P.; Rinaldi, C. Effect of surfactant-coated iron oxide nanoparticles on the effluent water quality from a simulated sequencing batch reactor treating domestic wastewater. Environmental Pollution 2011, 159 (12), 3411-3415. DOI link

De La Cruz-Montoya, E.; Rinaldi, C. Influence of nanoparticle surface chemistry on the thermomechanical and magnetic properties of ferromagnetic nanocomposites. Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics 2011, 49 (16), 1163-1172. DOI link

Miranda-Mendoza, F. G.; Acevedo, A. Influence of Silica Nanoparticles on the Thermal Transitions and Structure of PHBA/PET Nanocomposites. Technical Proceedings of the 2011 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo 2011, 1, 577-580. DOI link

Pagán-Torres, Y. J.; Gallo, J. M. R.; Wang, D.; Pham, H. N.; Libera, J. A.; Marshall, C. L.; Elam, J. W.; Datye, A. K.; Dumesic, J. A. Synthesis of Highly Ordered Hydrothermally Stable Mesoporous Niobia Catalysts by Atomic Layer Deposition. ACS Catalysis 2011, 1 (10), 1234-1245. DOI link


Aliev, F. M.; Arroyo, E. F.; Dolidze, V. Influence of confinement on molecular and director reorientational dynamics of liquid crystal. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids 2010, 356 (11-17), 657-660. DOI link

De La Cruz-Montoya, E.; Rinaldi, C. Synthesis and characterization of polymer nanocomposites containing magnetic nanoparticles. Journal of Applied Physics 2010, 107 (9), 09B506-3. DOI link

Principal Investigator : 
Nelson Cardona-Martínez, Professor