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Writing Your Proposal

Guidelines for symposium title

  • Does the title reflect the symposium description?
  • Will the title capture the attention of the intended audience?

Guidelines for description of topical focus

  • Does the topical focus describe a core or emerging area of materials research?
  • Is the topic of sufficiently broad interest to attract an audience? For symposia with a prior history, please indicate in the Comments section.
  • For core or historical topics, does the topical focus show evolution over time?
  • If the topical focus is not concerned with recent technical advances in materials research, the organizers might consider a tutorial session or a contribution to the non-technical program.

Guidelines for symposium topics

  • Does the list of topics reflect the topical focus?
  • Is the list of topics sufficiently specific and comprehensive so that prospective authors can choose the best symposium for their abstracts?

Sample MRS Education Symposium Proposal

Proposal Title:

Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive Materials Genome Initiative

December 2011

(Description of topical focus)


Scientific innovation plays a major role on the economic landscape of the XXI century. Indeed, innovation leads to job creation in the technological era, and for this reason, the need exists to enhance the discovery-to-commercialization process, in an attempt to minimize effort and maximize output. To this end, the National Science and Technology Council launched the Materials Genome Initiative in June 2011. Having identified historically lengthy lab-to-market pathways, in particular, within the novel materials space, this initiative aims at optimizing efforts towards effective development and commercialization.

The design of effective translational research mechanisms is not a new concept, with the biomedical sciences already having developed a good understanding of the commercialization sequence in particular for their market segment. However, a more general framework is needed in preparation for prompt lab-to-market throughout all newly-designed materials. The central keystone in the Materials Genome Initiative resides in the possibility to design novel materials from in computo approaches, prior to conventional time and resource intensive in vitro approaches. Indeed, increased computing power and improved modeling tools are paving the way to enable the upcoming generation of new materials to be first conceived and then tested in a virtual environment; with the hope of reducing time from lab-to-market by 50%. An early example of this initiative is the case of materials for batteries, with Prof. Ceder having first posed the challenge to first create materials from computational design.

The aim of this session is to build upon the vision provided in the Materials Genome Initiative. We propose to assemble relevant stakeholders to develop a more profound understanding of the building blocks needed for execution. Stakeholders in the Materials Genome Initiative ecosystem include funding agencies, universities, education experts, scientists, students, business experts, and the general public at large, among others. In particular, we will discuss those aspects relevant to education towards a sustainable and inclusive Materials Genome Initiative. Indeed, preparation of the next-generation materials workforce will call for increased computational abilities for which modifications to the existing curricula are needed. As one example, educational initiatives must be developed to make computational materials science a more pervasive discipline. This session will welcome recommendations aiming at the revision of the undergraduate and K-12 curricula; mostly based in Classical Physics. At this junction, it would also be pertinent to ponder about the adequate discovery-to-text book time frame. Suitable funding platforms amenable to multidisciplinary, cross-national lab-to-market consortia will also be discussed.

(Symposium Topics)

Possible Topics:

  • Review of education curriculum to support in computo materials design.
  • K-12 Education: inclusion of computer science, nanotechnology, quantum mechanics and relativity concepts throughout the curriculum.
  • How to train K-12 nonscience teachers to bring nanotechnology into their classrooms.
  • Best practices towards the design of scientific programs: from basic research to early commercialization.
  • Models for the assembly of scientific-commercial teams to execute a lab to market continuum.
  • Anticipation of strategies to bring the general public into the equation: early dissemination of findings for adequate consumer adoption.
  • Workforce development via experiential learning [e.g., Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs].
  • Lessons learned from the Nanotechnology Initiative: bringing in the general public to the developmental framework, similarly, consider end-users as adequate stakeholders in the assembly of multidisciplinary teams.
  • Parallelism with biomedical sciences: translational research, acceleration of “bench-to-market.”
  • Program design and evaluation strategies; application of the logic model and beyond
  • Ethical considerations in the accelerated models.
  • Ethical considerations in novel materials for novel applications.
  • The role of the media on the dissemination of scientific findings.
  • How to bring along the third world not to increase the technology divide.
  • How to bring along schools in disadvantages areas not to increase the education divide.
  • Health and safety considerations: development of unified criteria for enhanced consumer adoption.

You may want to include the following statement to allow for flexibility in planning the program.

A tutorial complementing this symposium is tentatively planned. Further information will be included in the MRS Program that will be available online in September.

(Potential Invited Speakers)

Possible List of Invited Speakers:

  • G. Ceder, MIT-Materials Genome Initiative: batteries as case study
  • I. Robertson, NSF-Materials Genome Initiative
  • E. Tomellini, European Commission (discuss best practices from FP7)
  • W. Trochim, Cornell, (on design and evaluation: application of markers to physical sciences-lessons from the biomedical sciences to expedite lab-to-market)
  • M. Farrrah, University of Pennsylvania (ethics in technology and cognitive freedom)
  • UNESCO (inclusion of developing countries-through education)
  • L. Jannah, Samasource (on creating development opportunities in the Third World)
  • A.C. Golston, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (inclusion of underserved population in US)
  • M. Rocco, NSF (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogni in the context of the Genome Project)
  • Consumer behavior??? (to determine best practices for early consumer adoption)
  • A. Baccouche, Aziza Productions (to discuss role of media in scientific dissemination)
  • NISE (to discuss best practices from nanotechnology)
  • National Academy of Sciences (to discuss curriculum modification from grade school)
  • Arthur R. Smith, Partnership for International Research and Education Grant (to discuss about international science)
  • David A. Drabold, (to discuss about simulating properties of amorphous materials with ab initio techniques)

(Symposium Organizers)

Symposium Co-Organizers

Eva M. Campo
Associate Education Director, Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Christine Caragianis Broadbridge
Professor and Chairperson of Physics; Southern Connecticut State University
Education Director; CRISP [Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena, an NSF MRSEC at Yale/SCSU]

Kathryn Hollar
Director of Educational Programs
Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
29 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Costel Constantin
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics & Astronomy
James Madison University
901 Carrier Drive
MSC 4502
Harrisonburg, VA 22807