Principal Investigator: Nelson Cardona-Martínez, Professor
Address: Chemical Engineering Department University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Call Box 9000 Mayagüez, PR 00681
Phone: 787 832-4040 Ext. 3747 Fax: 787 834-3655
The mission of the Wisconsin – Puerto Rico Partnership for Research and Education in Materials [Wi(PR)2EM] is to strengthen and broaden past collaborations between the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) by leveraging and augmenting the reach of such alliances to develop a formal long-lasting relationship in nanostructured materials research and education. The proposed PREM promotes the formation of a strong strategic partnership by fostering and expanding current and emergent research projects in collaboration with UW’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Interfaces (MRSEC) and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center on Templated Synthesis and Assembly at the Nanoscale (NSEC) and by combining research and education expertise found in the participating institutions into truly synergistic groups.
Wi(PR)2EM Research, Education, and Outreach Goals
Wi(PR)2EM will fulfill its mission by achieving the following goals:
- Develop a formal long-lasting relationship in nanostructured materials research and education that builds on and strengthens past informal interactions.
- Implement interdisciplinary education programs that foster strong, effective, and productive educational impact with special focus on Hispanic populations.
- Provide effective mentoring to young faculty at UPR in research, education, and career development.
- Promote and develop industrial interactions between UPR students and faculty and industrial partners of the UW MRSEC and NSEC through the UW Advanced Materials Consortium.
Organization and Project Description
Wi(PR)2EM impacts a diverse collection of research areas organized into four interdisciplinary research teams (IRT) and one interdisciplinary educational and outreach team (EOT):
- IRT 1. Host-defense peptide-mimetic foldamers and polymers as targeted antimicrobial agents, P. Ortiz-Bermúdez, (UPRM leader), S. Gellman, (UW leader), M. Torres-Lugo, J. López-Garriga, K. Riley, J. J. de Pablo, N. Abbot, and S. Palecek
IRT 1 combines expertise in the design, synthesis and structural analysis of discrete oligomers and polymers intended to display antibacterial and/or antifungal activity with knowledge in microbial biology to analyze the mechanism by which these novel molecules exert antimicrobial effects. In addition, IRT 1 explores polymer self-assembly with the goal of identifying encapsulation or hydrogel-forming materials that manifest intrinsic antimicrobial activity.
- IRT 2. Nanoparticle Heteroaggregation and Transport in Porous Media, C. Rinaldi (UPRM leader), J. A. Pedersen, (UW leader), U. Córdova, C. H. Benson, and R. J. Hamers
IRT 2 consists of parallel and complementary efforts aimed at studying the influence of nanoparticle physicochemical properties on heteroaggregation with natural colloids and transport in porous media. Our approach involves a combination of experimental and theoretical work that will lead to a fundamental understanding of the effects of nanoparticle size, surface charge, and surface chemistry on their interaction with natural colloids and porous media, contributing to the incorporation of environmental fate predictions to the rational design of nanomaterials.
- IRT 3. Liquid crystalline elastomers and gels, A. Acevedo (UPRM leader), J. J. de Pablo (UW leader), C. Rinaldi, F. M. Aliev, N. L. Abbott, and R. Hamers
IRT 3 uses a concerted theoretical and experimental effort for the rational design of colloidal liquid crystal gels and nano-composite liquid crystal elastomers, thereby allowing us to identify the origins of experimentally observed behaviors and to design or dial-in specific thermodynamic, mechanical, and optical responses that rely on advanced molecular models of the materials considered in our work.
- IRT 4. Multifunctional Nanoporous Materials for Sustainable Catalysis, N. Cardona-Martínez (UPRM leader), J. A. Dumesic (UW leader), A. J. Hernández-Maldonado, M. Mavrikakis, P. Voyles, and M. C. Curet-Arana
IRT 4 also combines experimental and theoretical work to develop and characterize hierarchical catalytic materials with various functionalities and porous polymeric materials with pillared layered structures. Our hypothesis is that the rational combination of surface functionality and pore structure will enable design of novel materials for the sustainable conversion of biomass resources into renewable fuels and chemicals and for removal of bulk CO2.
- EOT. Education and Outreach in Materials Science and Engineering and Nanotechnology, J. López-Garriga (UPRM leader), G. M. Zenner (UW leader), N. Cardona-Martínez, A. Greenberg, and W. Resto-Otero
Wi(PR)2EM leverages the highly regarded educational center established by UPRM professor López-Garriga, called Science on Wheels Educational Center (SONW) that coordinates the Education and Outreach activities of Our program. We are implementing interdisciplinary education programs that foster strong, effective, and productive education impacts. The EOT plan consists of activities dedicated to three primary groups: K-12 teachers and students, undergraduates, and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers such as: Teacher-Student Research Experiences, Module Training, Mentoring Experience, Materials Science Certificate, REU, Research Exchanges, Grad School Readiness Workshops, Grant Writing Workshops, Young Faculty Mentoring Program.
Wi(PR)2EM has an external advisory board (EAB) that evaluates the progress of our PREM on a regular basis and helps us identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. The first EAB meeting took place on January 8, 2010. Wi(PR)EM faculty and students are included in the UW Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium (UWAMIC) membership. All Wi(PR)EM faculty hold Adjunct Fellow positions in the UW Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.