REBECCA BAINER — General Assignments Reporter
Doors will open for Southern students who would like to gain research experience, with a grant for the establishment of a National Science Foundation [NSF] Center for Excellence in Materials Research and Innovation [CEMRI] called the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena, which will be a joint center between Yale University and Southern.
There are only a small amount of Centers for Research Excellence in Materials Research in the country, said Christine Broadbridge, Ph.D. and Physics Department Chair at Southern, so this grant affords students with great opportunities.
“If you take a look, research experience for undergraduate programs are all over the country, but they’re very, very competitive to get into,” said Broadbridge, “so we have one here at Southern that students from Southern can take advantage of.”
Broadbridge said CRISP, which is located in the physic’s department, is a center for research excellence in material’s science.
“Material science is really the study of materials, whether they are naturally occurring materials or materials that engineers make,” said Broadbridge. “So, the real focus of the center is cutting edge research that impacts all sectors of society.”
CRISP was first created in 2005 with funding from another grant that is finishing up, so the new grant will expand the current center, doubling it in size, according to Broadbridge.
“The idea is that there’s more researchers,” said Broadbridge. “Many of our programs are going to be the same but now we’ve got more researchers to participate and to work with the students and there will be more research that results from that.”
The center will be a joint center with Yale said Broadbridge because of Southern’s long standing research collaboration with Yale and the common interest of involving students in research and preparing teachers.
“Involvement with students in research benefits them and their education but also encourages them to go on and study science and continue their education,” said Broadbridge. “We had faculty who had that common interest in both research excellence but also on the idea of education and how you can use research and involvement in research for better education. That’s where the partnership is really a natural.”
In addition to this center, Broadbridge said Southern also has a research lab, nano-technology center, and education and outreach office.
Under the new six year grant Broadbridge said the nanotechnology center will have capabilities added to it and communication has already begun with New Haven Public Schools to learn what their needs are in terms of professional development.
“The needs of a district are very complex,” said Broadbridge. “I think the biggest part of it is collaboration, which isn’t always the easiest thing.”
DonnaJean Fredeen, Dean of Arts & Sciences said the grant will help meet the goals of the sciences at Southern.
“It’s a very exiting grant for Southern,” said Fredeen. “It’s really providing our students the opportunity to work in a lab doing research in cutting edge science.”
Fredeen said her hope is to deliver on promises and continue to attract students to the sciences at Southern, as enrollment has increased in recent years.
“At the end of the day I hope this will allow us to see tremendous enrollment not just in physics but in all the sciences here at Southern,” said Fredeen. “I personally think we have the best undergraduate physics department in the state. I don’t think anybody can compete with what we do here in our physics department.”
Fredeen said she is thrilled for Broadbridge who has been an inspiring faculty member.
“She sets the bar for everyone in the faculty in terms of her excellence in teaching research and service,” said Fredeen. “I hope that everybody would strive to meet that bar.”
Broadbridge has taken on a new role as the chair of all the education directors for all the material’s research centers across the country. Broadbridge said she can impact how these centers run and share some of the ways students and teachers have been impacted.
“I really would like to do my best to provide a model for how an academic institution can very effectively collaborate with an urban school district,” said Broadbridge. “I’d really like to develop a model that I can show other institutions, for example Trinity College in Hartford. I would love to be able to get them some ideas on how they can help Hartford because there are so many universities that are in urban districts that need help.”