Home > Press > University of Oregon receives major National Science Foundation grant
The $3.2 million grant expands workforce training in materials science
University of Oregon receives major National Science Foundation grant
Posted on July 05, 2006
The University of Oregon has received a
five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
that will further unite Oregon universities with international
The expanded collaboration will fund graduate studies in materials
sciences, helping to accelerate the transition from student to
Funded by NSF's Integrative Graduate Education Research and Traineeship
Program (IGERT), the new award builds on the University of Oregon
Materials Science Institute's model internship program. This program is
responsible for making the university a top-ten institution nationwide
for the number of master's degrees awarded in chemistry.
Currently, the university program places doctoral- and master's-level
students in industrial and academic settings for one-year internships
where faculty work with site mentors to tailor students' internships for
maximum impact. This grant will increase the number of
participating-doctoral students and will extend the internship program
to doctoral candidates at Oregon State University (OSU) and Portland
State University (PSU).
Managed by the University of Oregon, the expanded program includes IGERT
sponsorship of students at OSU and PSU and allows placements at any of
the participating universities as well as with additional industry
partners. The program's other partners include: Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory, Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute
(ONAMI), the Engineering & Technology Industry Council (ETIC), Hewlett
Packard Co., Invitrogen, LSI Logic Corp., Intel Corp., Hynix
Semiconductor America, Triquint Semiconductor, the FEI Company, Dynea
and Bend Research Inc.
The new program makes the Oregon universities even stronger by further
uniting academia and industry, said David Johnson, chemistry professor
at the University of Oregon, and the grant's co-principal investigator.
Johnson collaborated on the proposal with a strong team of chemistry and
physics faculty members in the Materials Science Institute, including
Dave Tyler, Bruce Branchaud, Jim Hutchison, Mike Haley, Darren Johnson
and Richard Taylor.
"The program resulting from this collaboration enhances graduate
education by providing students with experiences that accelerate the
transition from classroom learner to active, innovative and
independent-thinking scientist," Johnson said. "As just one aspect of
our high-tech extension service, the University of Oregon has placed
students for more than five years in industrial research settings where
they have been recognized as skilled problem solvers and high level
performers. The IGERT award allows us to expand this program to involve
other universities and industry partners."
The grant benefits not just the University of Oregon, but the entire
state, similar to the way ONAMI does, said OSU Distinguished Professor
of Chemistry Doug Keszler, the grant's co-principal investigator.
"The IGERT award brings our universities even closer together by placing
students in university research laboratories on other campuses while
maintaining a strong connection with their home institutions," Keszler
said. "It builds on the ONAMI concept and will help all of us keep
Oregon's best students and attract leading advanced students to the
state because of the access to faculty on three campuses and the Silicon
Students will now have an even better opportunity to take advantage of
the collaboration among Oregon's leading specialists, said John
Carruthers, distinguished professor of physics at Portland State
"Faculty are already collaborating across campuses to advance nano and
microtechnology research," said Carruthers. "The IGERT award enhances
the education and training of participating graduate students by giving
them with opportunities to work in faculty laboratories at any of our
The key innovation in this program is students participating in the six-
to nine-month internships at Oregon technology firms. This prepares
them for future employment. About two-dozen industrial partners in the
state have committed their active support to the IGERT program with
time, internship opportunities and donations, which have resulted in
over $1 million in additional direct support from ONAMI and ETIC.
"Oregon is home to the ninth-largest technology economy in the U.S.-
much of it rooted in materials sciences, semiconductors, and
nano-tech/nano instrumentation. The IGERT collaboration brings together
companies, researchers and academics to innovate in a multi- university
model that will help Oregon compete on a global scale," said Dave Chen,
a partner with OVP Venture Partners, chair of ONAMI and chair of Oregon
"This award is testimony to the outstanding research, committed faculty
leadership and inter-institutional collaboration that exists in Oregon
and the ONAMI community," said Skip Rung, executive director of ONAMI.
"At a time when the U.S. is facing unprecedented competitive challenge,
it is truly innovative graduate student programs like this which will
provide the top tier of scientific and organizational leadership we
Begun in 1997, IGERT is a federal program that was developed to fund new
and innovative models for graduate education with an emphasis on
collaborative and interdisciplinary research.
Source: Dave Johnson, professor of chemistry, University of Oregon, (541) 346-4612
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