Friday, November 21st 2008 [ versión español ]
The objective is to look for innovative solutions with the hope that they will largely impact the areas of health and energy. With this goal in mind the National Science Foundation (NSF) approved a 5 million dollar subsidy for the creation of a Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM). Chancellor Jorge Iván Vélez Arocho announced plans for the Center at a press conference this past Monday, November 17, in Room A of the UPRM Main Library.
“This group of researchers chose the areas of biomedicine and energy as the opportune areas because our campus unites an outstanding Engineering Faculty with important science departments whom together will be able to make great contributions in these fields,” emphasized Vélez Arocho.
Nanotechnology is an outstanding field for research in which the most prestigious universities across the globe are currently focusing on. “We hope that nanotechnology will be able to contribute to the solution of numerous problems,” sustained the Chancellor in reference to the scientific branch that specializes in the control and manipulation of matter on a scale smaller than a micrometer, or at the level of atoms and molecules.
Doctor Marcelo Suárez, head researcher of this project, explained that CREST involves the collaboration of 19 professors from the Engineering Faculty, the Chemistry Department, the Physics Department, and Arts and Sciences Faculty of UPRM and other universities, which are divided into four interdisciplinary research teams. One of the teams will be in charge of the educational aspects.
He added that each team will be working on the research using a variety of applications that will impact the areas of health and energy. Four of its principal projects are: the study of nano-particles for the dosage of ribonucleic acid for the detection and treatment of illnesses; non-toxic nano-particles for oncology applications; nanoporosos materials for the separation of gasses and catalysts; materials composed of nanostructures for devices and energy efficient applications.
Suárez indicated the importance of the educational component, whose goal is to distribute the academic impact of these investigations for the benefit of the students in public schools at the junior high and high school levels; for teachers and academic counselors as well as undergraduate and graduate students.
“The element that brings us all together is that of education and extension, we need to circulate the information gathered to generate an impact in the new labor force, principally Hispanic students, the NSF understands that and that is why they are supporting this project. We are particularly interested in dispensing this information to the public schools,” informed Suárez.
Doctor Ramón Vásquez, Dean of the UPRM College of Engineering, indicate that these funds allow the faculty to take the project to another level in the planning of new educational offerings.
“This subsidy takes us to the next level in the development of doctoral programs in that the aspects of initiative and creativity are able to be converted into manufacturable applications that create products,” said the Dean.
Doctor Mildred Chaparro, Dean of Academic Affairs, indicated that this project provides the opportunity for undergraduate students to carry out research in the field of nanotechnology.
“It fills us with great hope that we will be able to have students working in your laboratories. History tells us that this will change their perspectives,” commented Chaparro.
At the Center, doctors Carlos Rinaldi, Madeline Torres, Eduardo Juan, Oscar Perales, Luis Rivera, Maharaj S. Tomar and Surinder P. Singh, Arturo Hernández, Doctor Nelson Cardona, Raphael G. Raptis, Marcelo Suárez, Nelson Sepúlveda, Agnes Padovani, Guillermo Serrano and David Suleiman will all be collaborating on projects. The team in charge of the educational component is made up by: doctors Jeanette Santos and Sandra Dika as well as professor Jaquelina E. Álvarez.
A team of interdisciplinary researchers collaborates in the Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology.
Doctor Marcelo Suárez, the project’s head researcher.
Chancellor, doctor Jorge I. Vélez Arocho, announced to UPRM Press plans for the Center’s creation, which is to serve the purpose of looking for innovative solutions in the fields of health and energy.
The project will include various teams that will work on the research using a variety of applications.
Photos by Carlos Díaz / UPRM Press