(86c) NSF IGERT and REU Programs In Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices: An Integrative Approach | AIChE

(86c) NSF IGERT and REU Programs In Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices: An Integrative Approach


Anderson, K. W. - Presenter, University of Kentucky

In 2007, the University of Kentucky was awarded an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) grant from the National Science Foundation.   This program supports Ph.D. trainees pursuing research and education focusing on Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices.   The program is highly multidisciplinary including 20 investigators and 23 trainees from Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, and Anatomy and Neurobiology.   The research focus has three general themes including development of synthetic architectures, cell and protein interactions with these architectures, and integration into devices.   In 2009, the University was also awarded a NSF grant to support a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program focusing on the same area.   Since its inception, the REU Program has provided support for 43 undergraduate students from all over the country to pursue research for ten weeks during the summer.    Because both of these programs focus on the same area and include many of the same faculty members, it has provided us with the unique opportunity to integrate the two programs. To integrate the programs, the IGERT trainees are assigned one or two REU students and serve as their mentors during the program.  They also interact during technical activities including a poster session and panel discussions lead by the IGERT trainees.  IGERT trainees are also asked to organize social activities for the REU students.  The culmination of the REU Program is the Poster Competition and Awards Ceremony, where the REU students present their research and are judged by the IGERT trainees.  This event is open to the public and not only recognizes REU students for their efforts during the summer but the IGERT trainees are also recognized for their participation as mentors.  The day-to-day interactions between these groups benefit the REU students as they not only interact with their research advisors and lab mentors, but can also seek out advice from their IGERT mentors regarding research and graduate school opportunities.  The IGERT trainees benefit from these interactions as they learn the value of outreach and gain experience in advising and mentoring undergraduate students.  In many cases, these mentorships have continued beyond the summer as the REU students and their IGERT mentors continue to keep in touch.   Details of the research, educational and mentorship activities will be presented and both the successes and the challenges of these activities will be discussed.