Center receives NSF International Research Experiences for Students grant

December 13, 2022

By Mariah R. Lucas

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Convergence Center for Living Multifunctional Material Systems (LiMC2) received a $300,000 International Research Experiences for Students grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a research exchange program with the University of Freiburg’s Cluster of Excellence Living, Adaptive and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) in Germany.

The program will be known as the International Partnership for Responsive Infrastructure using Sustainable Multifunctional Materials (iPRISM). Each summer for three consecutive years, up to six Penn State graduate and undergraduate students and one undergraduate student from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will spend eight weeks in Germany, where they will focus on research and cultural activities in Freiburg, according to the award proposal.

Student research will focus on LiMC2 and livMatS’s shared research priorities, which center on engineering living materials, or sustainable materials that are biological or inspired by biological principles, and adaptive architecture. Specifically, students will focus on the development of synthetic living materials critical to improving the construction, performance and maintenance of buildings and investigate how these materials can be deployed in smart building infrastructures to increase their adaptiveness.

Ahead of the trip, students must prepare a research proposal that will guide the course of their international research experience. They also will complete onboarding through remote video meetings and recorded modules that provide them with a cultural and research introduction to the program.

Students will be paired with Penn State faculty members as well as University of Freiburg hosts to complete their research, gain technical communication skills, work in an internationally collaborative research environment and learn new skills from subject matter experts. 

After the eight-week trip, students will return to the United States to present their research and complete assessment activities.

Applications to iPRISM will be accepted online through January 31. The program is particularly committed to recruiting and mentoring students from underrepresented groups, and will cover all costs associated with travel, lodging and meals.

LiMC2 will partner with the Leonhard Center for Enhancement of Engineering Education and the Center for Global Engineering Engagement to recruit Penn State students and assess program outcomes.

LiMC2 is supported by Penn State's Materials Research Institute and the Institutes of Energy and the Environment.


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