Research Triangle Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Dean’s Award for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education
Director: Stefan Zauscher, Ph.D. Sternberg Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Professor of Chemistry
Executive Director: Miquella Chavez, Ph.D.
The Research Triangle Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (RT-MRSEC), based in the Duke Pratt School of Engineering, was launched in September 2011 as a national resource for materials science and engineering research and education. The NSF-funded center includes faculty and students from Duke University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Since its founding, MRSEC has set and met ambitious targets for diversity and inclusion that exceed the targets of the average center funded by the NSF. Over the last five years, the center has:
- Successfully attracted and recruited a diverse cohort of Ph.D. students. Of the 28 graduate students who voluntarily reported in 2015 through mrsec.org, nine (32 percent) were female and four (14 percent) were from underrepresented groups. Cumulatively, from 2011 to 2016, an impressive 46 percent of the graduate students and postdocs within the RT-MRSEC were either female or identified as being from an underrepresented group.
- Strategically hired promising postdocs and research faculty from underrepresented groups.
- Recruited a diverse cohort of participants to its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Of the 43 students who have participated in MRSEC’s REU program since 2012, 20 (47 percent) identified as belonging to an underrepresented group. A number of past REU participants have gone on to join Ph.D. programs in sciences and engineering.
- Extensively collaborated with Texas State University—a Hispanic-serving institution—through the National Science Foundation Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program. The collaboration includes mutual working visits, the participation of Texas State students in MRSEC’s REU program, and MRSEC postdocs traveling to Texas State for mock faculty interviews.
- Increased the diversity of the center participants at all levels and the diversity of STEM participants in general, through sustained, individual efforts by the MRSEC director and investigators.
- Organized and participated in numerous outreach efforts to increase the diversity of participants in STEM and, more specifically, in materials research-related activities.
RT-MRSEC leaders on their inclusion and diversity efforts
In Their Words
Excerpt from MRSEC’s Nomination
“I started participating in the MRSEC a few years ago through a seed grant, and I have been blown away from the start by the commitment to—and success in—recruiting, supporting, and training a diverse community of materials scientists and engineers.”