The Dow Chemical Company has awarded UC Santa Barbara up to $15 million to establish a collaborative research initiative that will help shape the future of technology in areas that will benefit society. The Dow Materials Institute at UCSB will educate future scientists and engineers and advance the discovery of revolutionary new materials with applications that range from novel polymers to next-generation microelectronics.
The pioneering institute will be housed in the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL), a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) that is widely recognized as one of the top materials research facilities in the world. UCSB is among 11 leading U.S. research universities that has partnered with Dow to "accelerate research and stimulate collaborative innovation in traditional scientific fields important to the company and the nation's future."
"This new partnership with the Dow Chemical Company is dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the United States through collaborative research and interactions with industry, thereby serving as a catalyst to transform people's lives," said Craig J. Hawker, director of the MRL and professor of materials. "By actively engaging in productive partnerships with industry, the MRL with National Science Foundation MRSEC support has proven to be an economic engine here and around the world."
Materials science is a core area of global interest due to its contributions to manufacturing processes and innovative products. The Dow Materials Institute will build on groundbreaking fundamental research supported by the National Science Foundation, with enormous potential for new product development to enhance the U.S. economy, Hawker said.
"This unique, industry-leading institute will give Dow direct access to breakthrough technologies and enable new opportunities for greater innovation, while developing our pipeline of future scientists and engineers," said Theresa Kotanchek, vice president of Sustainable Technologies and Innovation Sourcing at Dow. "Here we will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with the nation's top materials scientists and engineers in creating the next generation of nanomaterials and processes."
UCSB's MRL is engaged in research that could result in the development of new paradigms for energy-efficient microelectronics and the creation of adhesives and coatings inspired by marine bio-organisms. It also focuses on magnetic thermoelectronic nanomaterials, highly efficient heat conducting materials that could be used in the next generation of renewable energy technology.
"We are excited about the creation of our new Dow Materials Institute at UC Santa Barbara, under the visionary leadership of Professor Craig Hawker," said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "We are honored by this significant investment in our campus by Dow Chemical. I extend my sincere congratulations and appreciation to Director Hawker and all of our contributing colleagues across the campus. UC Santa Barbara is top-ranked in the nation in the field of materials, and so this new institute will build on our existing strengths and our culture of interdisciplinary collaboration to advance the frontiers of research, enhance the educational opportunities for our students, and contribute to our society."
The recent five-year award also includes a philanthropic component consisting of a $2 million endowment that will provide ongoing funding to support the research of outstanding graduate students. "The Dow Discovery Fellowships are an enormous validation and boost for our doctoral program in chemical engineering," said Michael Doherty, chair of chemical engineering at UCSB. "They will enable our very best doctoral students to provide solutions to the most pressing engineering problems of our time."
Dow scientists and engineers and UCSB faculty members from chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials will work together at the institute, along with postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates. The partnership also includes corporate student internships, and provides essential support for student outreach and entrepreneurial opportunities through the campus's Technology Management Program.
"I am pleased that Dow Chemical appreciates UCSB's national leadership in Materials Research," said Michael Witherell, UCSB vice chancellor for research. "We look forward to a long-term partnership that will boost both research and graduate education on campus."