The overall goal of the Environmental Molecular Science Institute (EMSI) centered at the Univesity of Notre Dame will be to provide a quantitative, mechanistic, molecular-scale understanding of the factors affecting the formation, stability, and impact of nano- and micro-particles. This EMSI has strong links with collaborators at several National Laboratories (Argonne, Oak Ridge, Sandia) and in industry (DuPont Engineering Technologies). Research conducted at the Instititue will provide a molecular-scale understanding of heavy-metal (Cd, Cu, Pb) and actinide (U, Np) interactions with nano- and micro-particles in the environment. The scientific activities of the Institute will integrate traditional macroscopic and microscopic techniques with state-of-the-art molecular-scale approaches such as x-ray absorption spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, and molecular dynamics modeling. Concurrent with these scientific activities, the Institute will serve as a focus for a range of innovative educational programs with the purpose being: 1) to disseminate state-of-the-art understanding of environmental chemistry to an audience outside of the scientific community; 2) to provide broad, interdisciplinary educational experiences to a large number of undergraduate and graduate environmental molecular science students, and 3) to train students from traditionally underrepresented groups in environmental molecular science. We will set up a M.Sc. program specifically aimed at talented undergraduate students from underrepresented groups whose pre-requisites fall slightly below regular admissions standards. We feel that admission to a M.Sc. program will enable a large fraction of these students to blossom, and these successful students will then continue on in a Ph.D. program, either at University of Notre Dame, or elsewhere. In either case, our Institute will have played a key role in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities working at the highest levels in environmental molecular science.
Environmental Molecular Science Institute: Actinides and Heavy Metals in the Environment - The Formation, Stability, and Impact of Nano- and Micro-Particles