The mission of the PENN-UPRH PREM is to broaden participation and enhance diversity in materials science through a partnership in materials research and education between the University of Puerto Rico (Humacao, Cayey and Río Piedras campuses) and the University of Pennsylvania Materials Research Science & Engineering Center.
The PENN-UPR collaborative was initiated over a decade ago under the NSF-CIRE sponsorship and has continued with PREM support since 2004. A continuation grant was awarded during the 2009 NSF-PREM competition. PREM has proven how a partnership with a large research university can significantly enhance the research and education productivity and transform the academic environment in a small minority institution. The partnership is continuously evolving with the integration of new partners and the development of new research and education collaborations.
Research Trust 1: Materials for Nano-electronic Devices and Sensors Faculty: Guadalupe, Otaño, Pantojas, Pinto, Ramos, Vedrine (UPR); Agarwal, Campo, Johnson, McGhie, Murray, Santiago, Yodh (PENN) Activities: Charge transport in organic and inorganic semiconductor nanostructures; Conductive and semiconductive nanofibers for field-effect transistors, diodes, photovoltaics and gas sensors; Development of biosensors for early detection of pathogens. Research Trust 2: Mathematical Modeling and Simulations of Materials Faculty: Negrón, Sotero, Zimbovskaya (UPR); Johnson, Moore, Ponte (PENN) Activities: Electrostatic interactions in Coarse Grain Modeling for micelles and ion-channel formation; Analysis software for MD Simulations of sensors for biological and chemical detection; Computing cavitated solutions for composite materials.
Research productivity since 2004 includes 135 publications (87 with students as co-authors) and 355 presentations (237 with or by students) in Puerto Rico, USA mainland and internationally.
Over 10,000 have participated in PREM outreach activities including the Summer Research Program for High School Students: Experimenta con PREM (Experiment with PREM), workshops for K-12 students and teachers, houses, Nanodays, visits to schools and the 2007 Strange Matter Museum Exhibit (visited by over 5,700 people). The new PREM Alliance with Petra Mercado High School in Humacao formalizes our collaboration with the school and supports teachers in the integration of research content into their curricula and is increasing the number of high school students in research with mentors from UPR, PENN, and PMHS.
PREM students are carefully mentored by faculty in all stages of their careers and participate in high-school and undergraduate research, videoconferences transmitted from PENN, Summer Program at Penn, and participation in other REU programs and Conferences. Since 2004, 87 minority students (45 women) have participated in research activities with PREM faculty. PREM has graduated 49 students: 11 from high school, 23 new bachelor's degrees, 2 master's degrees and 4 PhD's. Of the 32 new bachelor’s degrees, one has obtained her PhD (Rutgers) and 17 are pursuing graduate studies. In addition, approximately 250 undergraduates at UPRH have being impacted by integration of research content into STEM required courses.
Impact on Institution
PREM has transformed the research and education environment at UPRH. The materials research facilities are shared with other researchers and have contributed to an increase in research productivity beyond the PREM group. The outreach activities for K-12 students have helped attract some of the top students currently enrolled in science and mathematics programs at UPRH. The program is also recognized for introducing new and innovative ways of organization and education that have been adopted by other programs and departments.
- N. J. Pinto, K. V. Carrasquillo, C. M. Rodd, and R. Agarwal "Rectifying junctions of tin oxide and poly(3-hexylthiphene) nanofibers fabricated via electropinning", Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 94, 083504 (2009).
- N. Zimbovskaya "Electron transport through asymmetric ferrolectric tunnel junctions: current-voltage characteristics", Journal of Applied Physics 1006, 124101 (2009).
- Y. Wang, I. Ramos, and J. Santiago-Avilés, "Electrical characterization of a single electrospun porous nanostructured tin oxide ribbon", Journal of Nanoscience and Technology 10, 1884-1890 (2010).