2019 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit

How to Develop an Effective Proposal for User Facilities—Workshop

Tuesday, December 3
4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Sheraton, 5th Floor, The Fens

 Register Now

Space is limited. Advanced sign-up required.

Many students struggle to gain access to facilities for their research without the guidance to write effective proposals and financial support needed to perform the experiments.

While others may be fortunate to receive a grant the first time they apply, more commonly, repeated rejections are the norm. Actually, the proposals are more likely to be approved if the ideas and suggestions can be communicated in a clear, concise and engaging manner.

Proposal writing has pushed to the forefront of the list of “life skills” graduate students need to complete their degree.

For this reason, the Student Engagement Subcommittee is hosting a workshop to help attendees research appropriate facilities to attain their research goals, develop a support system to navigate the proposal process and receive advice on writing a potentially successful grant.

Representatives from a variety of user facilities will give advice to prospective researchers regarding the submission process, CV/resume and writing a proposal.

Workshop Outline

Part I: Presentations from User Facility Representatives

What is a user facility?
Introduction to the different types of user facilities such as Government Laboratories, University Laboratories and National User Facilities both inside the United States and abroad.

How to write a proposal
The role of the principal investigator and the graduate student in the application process, tips to create a competitive proposal package, how to sell the benefits of your proposal, and what reviewers are looking for in a proposal.

How to connect to a user facility and find the best contact person
How to establish contact with a user facility and potentially form research collaborations.


Linda Horton
Linda Horton
U.S. Department of Energy

Terry Law
Terry J. Law
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

David Mueller
David N. Mueller
Peter Gruenberg Institute
Research Centre Juelich


Part II: Panel Discussion

Emory Chan

Moderator: Emory Chan, Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Representatives from user facilities will give an overview of the specialty of their facilities (equipment, schedule, preference, etc.), followed by a moderated Q&A session.



Heather Brown
Heather Brown
Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos
Sandia National Laboratories

Flavio de Souza
Flavio Leandro de Souza
Brazilian Nanotechnology National Laboratory

Kathleen Carrado Gregar
Kathleen Carrado Gregar

Center for Nanoscale Materials
Argonne National Laboratory

Terry Law
Terry J. Law
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Ryan Reeves
Ryan D. Reeves
International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory

Ashley White
Ashley White

Advanced Light Source
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Part III: Graduate Students Share Their Experiences

Araceli.Hernandez.GrandosModerator: Araceli Hernández Granados, Instituto de Ciencias Físicas–Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

How they selected the facility, wrote proposals and prepared for their visit. Learn more from your peers!



Benjamin Derby
Benjamin Derby

University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
User at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Simranjit Grewal
Simranjit Grewal

University of California, Merced
User at NASA AMES and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Daniel Stadler
Daniel Stadler

University of Cologne
User at BESSY II, Germany


Part IV: Networking Session for Everyone!

Enjoy refreshments while mingling with speakers, panelists and representatives from a variety of user facilities.

Space is limited. Advance sign-up by November 10 is required.



  • Rohit Berlia, Arizona State University
  • Zhongkai Cheng, Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey
  • Nicholas Etrick, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
  • Adriana Nereida Gavira, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Isabel Gessner, University of Cologne
  • Araceli Hernández-Granados, Instituto de Ciencias Físicas-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Simranjit Grewal, University of California, Merced
  • Duanduan Han, Texas A&M University
  • Valerie Leppert, University of California, Merced
  • Nisha Prakash, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)–National Physical Laboratory
  • Anupam Yadav, KU Leuven

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