Materials institute successfully competes for research funding

April 10, 2003 5:02 p.m.

Following a long and highly competitive selection process, the Princeton Materials Institute has won a $17.4 million federal grant for wide-ranging research in electronics, nanotechnology, biology and other areas.

The grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation, renews the University's status as one of the nation's top Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers. The University first received a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) grant in 1994 and earned a renewal in 1998. The new grant extends over six years, through 2008.

"This renewal was critical for us," said Ravindra Bhatt, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Princeton MRSEC. The National Science Foundation is particularly stringent in judging past performance and proposed research of schools that have already received two MRSEC grants, Bhatt said. Indeed, some universities lost their funding entirely and others were dealt significant cuts in the competition.

With $2.9 million per year, Princeton's grant is up slightly and is the fifth largest of the 29 materials research centers nationwide. "Given the size of Princeton, we are very fortunate to have such a large MRSEC," said Bhatt, who attributed the proposal's success to the high quality and collaborative culture of Princeton faculty, as well as the cohesiveness of the final proposal. "Most of the other universities with large MRSECs are much bigger than we are and have a longer history of materials science research on their campuses."

Involving 40 faculty members in six departments, the MRSEC is the largest single grant at Princeton, said Bhatt. Participating faculty are from chemistry, physics, molecular biology, electrical engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering. Bhatt said that MRSECs are designed to support highly interdisciplinary materials research that could not be easily funded by conventional targeted or single-investigator grants.

The full story is available in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Evelyn Tu (609) 258-3601