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Tuskegee University has announced that a new program aimed at increasing the number of junior faculty with expertise in materials science and engineering (MSE) has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Those faculty will, in turn, increase the production of doctoral degrees in MSE – an area of strength at Tuskegee and of great interest to aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, and the military.


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With support from the National Science Foundation, Tuskegee University intends to mentor five early-career STEM faculty by immersing them in related activities. The proposed interventions will enhance research and education in advanced materials, provide research experiences at national laboratories, foster grantsmanship, and provide training in career-life balance.

Dr. Shaik Zainuddin, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, will serve as the grant’s principal investigator. Dr. Shaik Jeelani, vice president for research and dean of Graduate Studies; Dr. Mohammed Qazi, professor of mathematics; Dr. Vijay Rangari, professor of materials science and engineering; Dr. Maria Calhoun, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will serve as co-principal investigators.

“I’m excited that this grant will provide the opportunity for junior faculty to expand their scientific network by working alongside scientists at various federal laboratories across the country,” Zainuddin said.

“The program interventions will allow Tuskegee University junior faculty to become more competitive in attracting research grants from federal agencies and foundations and also increasing the number of African American doctoral students,” he continued. “The processes and knowledge developed through interventions in advanced materials will help in product development in areas such as biomedical, agriculture and polymer science.”

Initiatives of the grant include: improved research capabilities, cutting-edge research training, continuous support from senior faculty and other specialists throughout the program, and participants will also benefit from communication and interpersonal skills, which will enable them to become role models for other students. In addition, the grant will also provide strategies to be productive members of the program while also balancing other responsibilities such as teaching, student advising, and family obligations.

The broader impact of the grant also includes improved research capabilities at Tuskegee in advanced materials and the production of many minorities and women with B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees.

“Ultimately, the grant will provide funding to increase the need of minorities and women in the STEM field,” noted Dr. Shaik Jeelani. “The graduates will help bring much-needed diversity to the nation’s advanced technological workforce. The human and physical scientific infrastructure established by this grant will contribute to Tuskegee’s long-term vision of reaching the Carnegie classification as a doctoral-granting institution.”


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