Title: Enhancement of Research and Educational Infrastructure in Materials Science
and Engineering at Tuskegee University

Award ID: 1137682, 08-01-2011 to 07-30-2014.

 Project Summary

 Through this grant, Tuskegee University (TU) proposes to elevate its Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) program to a higher level so that its impact may considerably be broadened. We propose to implement the following three-part program: a) Enhance research capability in synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles for biomedical and pharmaceutical applications, b) Develop a cohort of students not only at the Ph.D. level but also at the Master’s level so that they can be nurtured and motivated to continue their studies in the Ph.D. program, and c) Groom younger faculty members to enable them to become active in research and education in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). In research, we propose to perform the following five projects which covers a broad area in the use of nanoparticles for biomedical and pharmaceutical applications: a) Synthesis of nanoparticles for biomedical applications, b) Synthesis of magnetic nanoparticles for drug delivery applications, c) Synthesis of silver/zinc oxide (Ag/ZnO) coated carbon nanotubes (CNT) and fabrication of Ag/CNT/Nylon-6 and ZnO/CNT/Nylon-6 composite single fibers for antimicrobial/antifungal applications, d) Study the pharmaceutical applications of nanoparticles to improve oral absorption of calcium using nanoparticles, and e) Study the biological properties of calcium carbonate Nanoparticles through the interactions with inflammatory and stromal cells. We have teamed up with the Department of Pharmacy at Auburn University for pharmaceutical studies. In education, we propose to develop and implement a Master’s degree program in Materials Science and Engineering. In the area of faculty development, we propose to continue the very successful “Start-Up Funds for Junior Faculty” program, which was initiated through previous HBCU-RISE grants.

Intellectual Merits

The proposed research activities include chemical synthesis and analysis, surface analysis, processing, and performance evaluation of a variety of nanobiomaterials. The processes and knowledge developed through this research will help in fields such as drug delivery and pharmaceutical applications. These research activities are expected to generate new knowledge about the interaction of nanoparticles with biological systems and compatibility in developing new drug delivery systems. Another outcome of this research is in developing the new multifunctional polymer composites. Implementation of a Master’s degree program in MSE will allow us to serve a larger number of students who wish to complete a master’s degree in MSE before joining the Ph.D. Program. This will also enhance the quality of students entering the Ph.D. program. Offering start-up funds to junior STEM faculty and pairing them with seasoned faculty members for proper mentoring will enable them to develop their research expertise in nanobiomaterials. We have assembled well qualified senior faculty members with expertise in research as well as program implementation to spearhead various aspects of the proposed project.

Broader impacts

The broader impacts of this project include production of a large number of African Americans with baccalaureate through doctorate degrees with a strong background in the emerging areas of materials science and engineering. These students will be trained to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills as well. Such graduates should become role models for many young minority students in years to come. Moreover, these graduates will help bring much-needed diversity to the nation’s advanced technological workforce. The “Start-Up Funds for Junior Faculty” program will address the issue of shortage of minority faculty in MSE, particularly, in nanobiomaterials science and engineering. The research findings are expected to contribute significantly to the science and technology knowledge base of nanobiomaterials. Broader societal impact includes improved capabilities in biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.

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