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CCNY receives $5 million NSF grant to establish center for nanostructure applications

NEW YORK, September 16, 2008 The City College of New York (CCNY) announced today that it has received $5 million over five years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a new, interdisciplinary research center that will investigate new applications for nanostructures and nanomaterials in sensors and energy systems. Known as CENSES (Center for Exploitation of Nanostructures in Sensors and Energy Systems), the center will also investigate emerging technologies and novel characterization techniques for nanostructures and nanomaterials.

Dr. Daniel L. Akins, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry, will serve as the center's Director and Principal Investigator. Serving as co-Principal Investigators will be: Dr. Maria C. Tamargo, Professor of Chemistry; Dr. Alex Couzis, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Dr. Swapan K. Gayan, Professor of Physics.

"CENSES will focus its efforts on addressing several of the major challenges facing the nation and the world, including sustainable energy technologies and monitoring of health, the environment and national security threats," said Professor Akins in announcing the grant. "Our objective is to become a national resource center for these areas and to collaborate on research and development efforts with a variety of potential partners."

Existing collaborations with the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at Columbia University and the Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College are being folded into the center, Professor Akins noted. The research efforts have been organized into three areas:

  • Nanomaterials and nanostructures for sensor applications, headed by Professor Tamargo;
  • Nanomaterials and nanostructures in energy systems, headed by Professor Couzis, and
  • Emerging technologies and novel characterization techniques, headed by Professor Gayan.

However, Professor Akins pointed out that there are many synergistic opportunities between sensor and energy systems application since they can draw upon a "common pool of nanomaterial systems. Also, much of the research acumen will be derived from scientists engaged in projects in both areas," he added.

The grant will fund projects that potentially involve 21 professors and researchers from CCNY's Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering and Physics Departments. Eight full-time graduate students, eight undergraduate research positions and four postdoctoral fellows will be supported by the grant, as well. In addition, it will support several activities intended to integrate the research with education. These include:

  • Establishing learning communities among graduate students based on the Peer-Led Team Learning model developed at CCNY and used in undergraduate chemistry classes.
  • New online curricular courses for students and online courses for the public available through the CUNY School of Professional Studies.
  • Extended international research visits for five students per year enabling them to travel to different countries for three-month assignments and become globally engaged researchers.
  • Recruitment and retention strategies for students underrepresented in science and engineering.


Contact: Ellis Simon
City College of New York

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