NanoJapan program receives grant

Monday, September 20, 2010

Five-year, $4.5 million NSF grant will allow continued research and cooperation between U.S. and Japan

NanoJapan, an undergraduate program co-administered by The University of Tulsa, has been awarded a continuing grant for $4.5 million over five years from the National Science Foundation Office of International Science and Engineering.

The program combines research in nanotechnology with study abroad in Japan. It targets science and engineering undergraduates and has received national attention for its success in motivating these students to invest in an international education.

NanoJapan centers on a 12-week summer session that involves 10 first- and second-year science and engineering students from U.S. universities. The students participate in a three-week language and culture orientation followed by research internships with leading Japanese nanotechnology laboratories.

The program was designed, in part, by Cheryl Matherly, assistant provost for Global Education. Matherly helped develop the program when she was assistant dean of students at Rice University, which remains lead institution for the project. Matherly is the co-principle investigator on the renewal and serves as the education director of the NanoJapan program. In addition to Rice and TU, other schools involved in the program are University of Florida, State University of New York at Buffalo, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Texas A&M University.

NanoJapan has won the prestigious Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education that recognized this program as a model for sending engineering students abroad. The program was established with a Partnership for International Research and Education grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF-PIRE) in 2005.

Nanotechnology is the study of nanostructures (between 1 to 100 nanometers long) and how they can be controlled, fabricated, or manipulated. This latest PIRE renewal award supports the expansion of the unique interdisciplinary U.S.-Japan research and education partnership focused on terahertz (THz) dynamics in nanostructures.

The U.S. and Japan are global leaders in THz research and nanotechnology. However, obstacles exist for international collaboration – primarily linguistic and cultural – and this project aims to continue breaking down these barriers. It also leverages large investments by both countries to achieve long-term scientific and societal impact by providing future researchers with a better understanding of the culture and technology in each country.

This award places Rice University at the hub of a collaborative network of researchers and educators, while leveraging The University of Tulsa’s exceptional strength in international education, especially its expertise in developing international education programs for science and engineering students. An Introduction to Nanotechnology & Nanoscience Online Seminar will be developed within this PIRE and will be webcast live and archived online, enabling live or asynchronous participation of all U.S. and Japanese participants, thus enhancing the international curriculum at all institutions.


Cheryl Matherly