Federal grant will support interdisciplinary materials science graduate students

This Ph.D. training targets a Department of Education “area of national need.”

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have won a $597,000 federal grant to support up to five doctoral students in the interdisciplinary materials science program.

gaan researchersFrom left: Yogesh Vohra, Eugenia Kharlampieva and Amber Genau“This new graduate training grant is part of a federal initiative to discover, manufacture and deploy advanced materials in half the time and at a fraction of the cost,” said Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., project director for the grant, a Professor University Scholar and associate dean in the Department of Physics, UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “This will sustain and enhance our capacity to produce materials scientists who are skilled in teaching and research in advanced manufacturing, biomaterials for implants, tissue engineering, drug delivery and materials for energy applications.”   

Co-project directors on the three-year Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, or GAANN, grant are Eugenia Kharlampieva, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Chemistry, and Amber Genau, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, UAB School of Engineering.

“We are all experienced at managing and coordinating personnel in the operation of undergraduate and graduate academic programs,” Vohra said.

Vohra directs the UAB Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration and manages the National Science Foundation-supported Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in materials research, which will be an important feeder program for the new GAANN program.  Genau manages graduate admissions and administration of the Materials Science Ph.D. program. Kharlampieva directs the polymeric biomaterials and nanotechnology program in the Department of Chemistry. Both Genau and Kharlampieva are recipients of the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award, or CAREER, from NSF.   

The Interdisciplinary Materials Science grant pays a nationally competitive graduate stipend of up to $34,000 a year, with an additional $15,750 educational allowance for graduate tuition, health insurance, and research-related expenses and travel. The GAANN fellowship can be extended for three years, based on satisfactory academic performance and meeting milestones in research and teaching.

The UAB Graduate School will provide additional matching support of up to 25 percent for the three-year GAANN award, Vohra says.

“The grant will help UAB recruit, educate and graduate a diverse group of high-quality scientists,” Vohra said. “These UAB graduates will know their disciplines, be competent in research, and have the teaching and communication skills needed to secure high-caliber postdoctoral positions and begin challenging research and teaching careers.”

The new GAANN grant for Interdisciplinary Materials Science is UAB’s second in recent years aimed at research areas of national need. “We have had a Department of Education GAANN grant in physics for the past 10 years,” Vohra said.