Nanomaterials Research at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution: Transforming Nanorods, Undergraduate Research Communities, and Infrastructure

Katherine E. Plass, J. Kenneth Krebs, Jennifer L. Morford, Raymond E. Schaak, Joshua James Stapleton, Adri C.T. van Duin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Undergraduate research transforms student’s conceptions of themselves as scientists and encourages participation and retention in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Many barriers exist to carrying out scientifically impactful undergraduate research in nanomaterials at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). Here, we share several practices and design principles that demonstrate pathways to overcome these barriers. Design of modular research projects with low entry barriers is essential. Postsynthetic transformation of nanoparticles is a field that enables such design and has been used successfully to advance nanoscience research while being achievable within undergraduate laboratories. Relatively large, inclusive research communities can be supported through the creation of opportunities with peer- and near-peer mentoring. We also share emerging strategies for enabling routine undergraduate access to transmission electron microscopy, which is one of the most mainstream characterization techniques in nanoscience yet is frequently absent from the infrastructure at undergraduate-focused institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Nanoscience Au
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)

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