RICHMOND, VA - Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has received approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to offer an interdisciplinary doctoral degree program in nanoscience and nanotechnology, making VCU the first major research university in the state to offer such a program, and one of only a handful of programs in the United States.
Beginning in Jan. 2010, VCU will start training a new generation of chemists and physicists to explore the rapidly emerging fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology. They will be working at the nanoscale to create and manipulate new materials that lead to technologies that could ultimately benefit society.
The new program, which was developed by faculty in the VCU Departments of Chemistry and Physics, is designed to cross train students in the physical sciences of chemistry and physics, with particular focus on how the science changes at reduced dimensions. There is a potential for other departments to become more involved as the program develops.
“This new program will help position VCU as a leader in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. We have prolific research faculty in both chemistry and physics, with expertise in nano, who will guide these students, as well as equipment and resources to support the program. These students will one day contribute to scientific developments and technologies that will have great impact in the state and on the world around us,” said Fred M. Hawkridge, Interim Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences.
The proposed curriculum will help prepare students for future positions in industry or government research by providing them an opportunity to work beyond traditional scientific boundaries to examine the theoretical underpinnings of nano and learn how they are part of a bigger picture.
“Rather than getting a Ph.D. in chemistry or physics with your research being in nano, students will get a broader education on the issues affecting the research,” said Interim Coordinator Everett Carpenter, an Associate Professor of Chemistry with an affiliation in chemical and life sciences engineering at VCU.
“Chemistry students, for example, never really get to understand how the physics at the nano regime changes; likewise, physics students never really understand the chemistry that happens on the surface. This program provides them with the multi-disciplinary education they will need to become more competitive in the modern workplace,” said Carpenter.
“The Department of Physics has faculty who have been working in the area of nanoscience for years, and we are excited to support this unique interdisciplinary Ph.D. program,” said Alison Baski, Associate Professor and Chair in the VCU Department of Physics.
“It will integrate new course offerings with cutting-edge research programs in the areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology to produce students who can effectively cross the boundaries between disciplines in this area,” said Baski.