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UD Makes Material Impact

Federally-funded center to advance materials research

by | July 8, 2020

Photo illustration by David Barczak

Jul 8, 2020

UD CHARM is advancing foundational understanding of new materials driven by theoretical and computational predictions paired with cutting-edge experiments led by interdisciplinary teams.

A new center at the University of Delaware will advance research to transform the way materials are made.

The UD Center for Hybrid, Active, and Responsive Materials (UD CHARM) will drive fundamental materials science research with the potential to enable critical innovations in biomedicine, security, sensing and more.

The effort will be led by UD’s Thomas H. Epps, III, the Thomas and Kipp Gutshall Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, with $18 million in funding from the National Science Foundation. Epps also holds a joint appointment in materials science and engineering. LaShanda Korley, Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, will co-direct and coordinate operational aspects of the center.

The center is part of a network of academic partners and national labs focusing on the development of new materials. Regional research partners in the UD-led center include the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It is one of 11 Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) across the country funded by the NSF in 2020.

MRSECs are an important part of the materials science enterprise in the United States with a focus on fundamental research. They serve as hubs for national and international collaboration in research and industry partnerships, and also are critical developers of educational and outreach content for the materials community.

“We congratulate Professors Thomas Epps and LaShanda Korley for leading this transformational effort,” said University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis. “The new Center for Hybrid, Active, and Responsive Materials at UD will expand the boundaries of science and engineering and spearhead the materials revolution that will help create the future economy. The center will bolster our research and academic partnerships with Delaware State University and with Claflin University to provide more educational opportunities to students from underrepresented groups. We look forward to the exciting developments ahead by this amazing team!”

A major educational and outreach thrust of UD CHARM will be to improve the diversity landscape at all levels of the academic and research enterprise. Key initiatives include providing exciting research and education opportunities in materials science for students from underrepresented groups, in partnership with Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware, and Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“This award not only provides a home for new research in our region, but it will allow students access to funding and opportunities and make these regional partners an even more attractive destination for top scientists,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons from Delaware, who is a staunch supporter of science and a member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee.