Undergraduates Research Renewable Energy through NSF-Funded Summer Program at UMass

July 18, 2007


AMHERST, Mass. – Ten undergraduates from around the country are involved in renewable energy projects at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this summer as part of a 10-week program funded by the National Science Foundation.

The three-year, $210,000 grant to the UMass Amherst chemistry department and the campus-based Massachusetts Center for Renewable Energy Science and Technology (MassCREST) from the NSF’s chemistry division is supporting the interdisciplinary Collaborative Undergraduate Research in Energy (CURE) program.

“CURE gives undergraduates an opportunity to work side-by-side with scientists in the area of renewable energy science,” says S. “Thai” Thayumanavan, associate professor of chemistry and director of the program. “Through the program, they are gaining a deeper understanding of how researchers from different fields work together on projects related to fuel cells and batteries, photovoltaic devices and biomass conversion.”

The eight projects involve faculty from the chemistry, chemical engineering, and polymer science and engineering departments at UMass Amherst.

“We have been hearing a lot about energy problems in the news,” says Hadiza “Kim” Anaza, a first-year student from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, who is working with a group making semiconductor nanoparticles and surfaces. “This program provides me an exciting and unique opportunity to work on this very important problem and make an impact.”

Chosen from a pool of nearly 100 applicants nationally, the REU participants were selected on the basis of their outstanding academic records, letters of recommendation, interest in the renewable energy science and their potential for making significant contributions to science and technology in the future.

Students in the program receive a $4,000 stipend, free housing and travel expenses. The program ends Aug. 10.

The CURE students come from UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Gordon College, Stonehill College, Worcester State College, Lincoln University, Knox College in Illinois, Luther College in Iowa and North Carolina State University.

UMass Amherst also hosts other summer research programs for undergraduates in a number of fields, including engineering, linguistics, nanotechnology, materials science, biology and mathematics.