To be useful, nanoscale materials must be integrated into microscale systems that interact with the outside world. To realize this utility, this IGERT program focuses on integrative nanoscience and microsystems that exploit and extend the unique properties of the nanoscale to micro/macroscale materials and systems. This unifying theme, maintained throughout the integrated graduate education and research activities, builds upon unique set of capabilities and strong existing breadth in materials synthesis, interrogative platforms and functional systems that exist at the University of New Mexico. This IGERT involves nine departments with a collective vision of establishing a nanoscience graduate education program in a geographical region of rich technical and ethnic diversity with progressive goals in scientific research, educational program development, recruiting and retention. Innovative aspects include an ethnically diverse, multi-disciplinary culture; Ph.D. degree program development that emphasizes multi-disciplinary team-based learning; nanoscience ethics coursework and social implication research; and an integrated approach to nanoscience. This IGERT will benefit from the growing momentum of nanotechnology research collaborations and infrastructure programs throughout New Mexico's University system and the neighboring national laboratories where a nanoscience graduate educational program is the missing component. The broader impacts include a sustainable core of education and training, increased community awareness of nanoscience and its career opportunities, an increased and sustained involvement of minority students in nanoscience to address the national and local needs for an interdisciplinary workforce. IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background, deep knowledge in a chosen discipline, and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Project Report

The NSF Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) in Nanoscience and Microsystems (NSF – DGE 0504276) operated a fellowship program at the University of New Mexico over the period 2005-2012. The NSMS IGERT received co-funding from the National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology. The co-funding helped NSMS establish a partnership that resulted in a significant increase in collaborative research and educational activities between the physical sciences, engineering and the UNM Cancer center. The partnership that began with the IGERT grant continued to strengthen and led to the NCI R25 Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center (CNTC) grant that was awarded in 2010. A NCI Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnership (CNPP) also resulted from the collaborations that emerged from the IGERT. Another significant outcome from the IGERT was the establishment of numerous research collaborations among faculty in the participating departments, the recruitment of new faculty to UNM and enhancement of the facilities for computational research (through a NANO supercomputer and its successor called GIBBS) and additional facilities for nanomaterials characterization such as a FIB-SEM and two new XRD instruments. NSMS IGERT fellows have won numerous awards and fellowships, among them: One IGERT fellow won the prestigious post doctoral Harry S. Truman Fellowship. 3 of the IGERT students have won the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. One current student has just been awarded the UNM-Sandia Excellence in Engineering Fellowship. Another NSMS student has been selected for the William C. Kraft and Charlotte P. Kraft Memorial Fellowship. The NSMS IGERT supported a total of 33 graduate students, and has so far graduated 13 doctoral students and 4 masters. The Integrative Nanoscience and Microsystems IGERT led to the creation of the Nanoscience and Microsystems graduate degree program (NSMS) at the University of New Mexico, which has graduated an additional 6 doctoral students and 31 master’s students. A Science Masters program (supported by NSF) was created in 2010 at UNM through a partnership with the UNM Anderson School of Management, which has led to an increase in the number of master’s graduates. NSMS Students have won first place in the Anderson Annual Business Plan Competition for the last three years and third place in the last two years. The NSMS Science Masters has graduated 23 M.S. students in the last 2 years. The business plan competition provides training for students to translate their technologies into the marketplace. The first graduate of the NSMS PhD program is the CEO of a startup company established through the technology developed at UNM. The goal of the NSMS graduate program is to prepare diverse, well-rounded, and globally minded graduates with comprehensive understanding of multiple scientific disciplines, who can harness unique nanoscale phenomena to create macroscopic functionality. Students will have both a strong core knowledge base and the diverse skill set needed to lead the rapidly evolving nanoscale technologies at the interface of traditional disciplines. The program provides a high level of mentorship and advisement to enable students to graduate in a timely fashion. To achieve this goal, a project management approach is used to guide students through various milestones, and involves regular academic advisement by the NSMS office and faculty program directors. The educational program is built on the foundations of understanding of physical and chemical phenomena at the nanoscale, and of methods to control and manipulate these materials to make novel structures and devices. The overall goal of the program is to develop students who have creative, critical problem-solving skills stemming from team based, multidisciplinary learning allowing them to identify, understand and exploit new phenomena and to transform their knowledge into products and technologies that are useful to society. This NSMS program continues to thrive and currently has 61 graduate students enrolled. The graduate students in the Integrative Nanoscience and Microsystems IGERT grant published a total of 66 refereed papers, 10 conference proceedings, 2 book chapters, 14 patent applications, 2 patent awards, and presented at 98 conferences total during the course of the grant. IGERT fellows have also performed significant research. Among the significant accomplishments include a direct hydrazine hydrate fuel cell, a method for determining interaction kinetics of erbB dimerization on the surface of live cells, the development of a novel nanocarrier platforms that enables highly specific delivery of diagnostic and therapeutic agents to live human cancer cells without affecting viabilty of other cells, and a polymeric particulate system for pulmonary drug delivery. The NSMS program was the first interdisciplinary program at UNM that involves three schools (Engineering, Medicine and Arts and Science) and a partnership with the business school. The program recently went through a very successful Academic Program Review since it has completed a total of 5 years of operation. The innovative approaches for graduate education developed through this program will have a long lasting impact at UNM.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Graduate Education (DGE)
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Richard Boone
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University of New Mexico
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