REU Site: A Multidisciplinary Research Experience in Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices

Grants and Contracts Details


The overall objective of this project is to provide a novel multidisciplinary research and education experience for rising junior and senior undergraduates in the area of Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices. Funding over the past three years from NSF and the University of Kentucky has provided us with the opportunity to provide 42 students with a multidisciplinary undergraduate research experience in this area and the purpose of the current proposal is to request renewal of this highly successful program. The University of Kentucky also has a National Science Foundation IGERT program in this area, and therefore, the REU students will not only have the opportunity to interact with REU faculty but will also interact with IGERT graduate trainees through research, special seminars, and other technical and social activities. Specific objectives of the program include 1) providing the students with true interdisciplinary mentoring and research training through their participation in a research project related to Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices 2) stimulating the students’ interests in Ph.D. careers in science and engineering through seminars, field trips, and interactions with both graduate students and faculty, and 3) developing the students’ independence and confidence through participation in research, journal clubs, in house presentations and scientific meetings. Intellectual Merit: Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices focuses on the novel design of architectures that interact with biological systems and promote a desired response. The need for this cross-disciplinary interaction between investigators working on biological systems and those creating novel engineered synthetic architectures has long been recognized and emphasized in a number of reports from various agencies including the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. These advanced architectures have numerous applications ranging from tissue engineering, to sensing systems, to drug delivery and successful development of these systems will depend on expertise not only in developing novel synthetic architectures through nanotechnology, self-assembly and hybrid systems but also on the interactions of these interfaces with biological systems such as cells and proteins. An REU program in this area will introduce students early on to this exciting multidisciplinary area and will encourage them to pursue this or similar areas for graduate studies. As part of the REU program, the undergraduate students will have the opportunity to learn about three cross-disciplinary research themes that form the foundation of the research in this area. They include 1) “Novel Bioactive Architectures”, 2) “Cell/Protein Interactions at Interfaces”, and 3) “Integration into Devices”. Broader Impact: Students will be recruited from various undergraduate disciplines including engineering, biology, chemistry and physics. Surrounding the University of Kentucky are numerous regional colleges and universities that have no graduate programs in these areas. Recruitment at these institutions will encourage students that may not otherwise pursue an advanced degree. In addition, we will recruit at a number of national institutions that do not have graduate programs. Special efforts will be made to attract women and minorities to this program by recruiting at minority institutions such as University of Puerto Rico and Tuskegee University and publicizing the program at national meetings of minority and women organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers. Students accepted into the program will work closely with faculty and IGERT graduate students who are currently engaged in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research. The faculty participants have existing research collaborations that include joint student supervision, grant funding and publications. The proposed REU program builds on these successful collaborations and integrates them with other educational components, such as seminars, workshops, and other technical and social activities. The students will be exposed to the excitement of interdisciplinary research and by the end of the program will have an excellent knowledge of what is involved in graduate research.
Effective start/end date5/1/124/30/15


  • National Science Foundation: $398,487.00


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