REU Site: Integration of Biology and Materials in Chemical Engineering

  • Kumar, Manish (PI)
  • Gomez, Esther E.W. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details



This REU site focuses on the Integration of Biology and Materials and is hosted by the Chemical Engineering Department at The Pennsylvania State University. Undergraduate students will be involved in academic research bridging materials development and the life sciences for ten weeks in the summer. This research will enable a clearer understanding of biological materials and processes and will allow for the development of novel materials to meet critical national needs in medicine, energy, and environmental protection. Recruitment efforts will target institutions where research opportunities are limited and will focus on recruiting students from underrepresented groups in engineering. In addition to the hands-on collaborative research experience, technical and social activities will be incorporated into the program to provide students with a solid foundation in analytical, writing, and presentation skills and to enhance interactions between REU students and faculty mentors. Assessment will be performed in collaboration with the Leonhard Center for Enhancement of Engineering Education and will analyze the effect of the program on student outcomes. This REU site is supported by the Division of Engineering Education and Centers of the National Science Foundation.


The Research Experience for Undergraduates Site in Chemical Engineering at Penn State seeks to provide an impactful summer research experience to undergraduates on active projects integrating the life sciences and materials. This interdisciplinary area provides fascinating paradigms such as the self-cleaning lotus leaf that could capture the interest of undergraduate students and encourage them to adopt a scientific career outlook. The research, educational, and career mentorship provided by the program is intended to inspire the students to look at their academic work in a new light and to provide a spark for possible careers in academic research or industrial innovation. Social activities as well as the use of pairing of students to work on aspects of joint projects will promote collaboration and teamwork amongst the students. Diversity in the program will be encouraged by recruiting widely from targeted universities and underrepresented groups. The success of the program will be monitored in collaboration with engineering education experts at Penn State by onsite surveys and exit interviews as well as by frequent (6 month, 1 year and 2 year) surveys and by the use of social media tools.

Effective start/end date5/1/144/30/17


  • National Science Foundation: $338,886.00


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