Materials Research Facilities Network (MRFN) Faculty Fellow Program

Former Penn State MRFN Faculty Fellows: Adu (PSU Altoona), Noble (Messiah), Clark (St. Francis), St. Angelo (Dickinson), Tzolov (Lock Haven)

 Proposals for 2022 are currently being reviewed. 

The Materials Research Facilities Network (MRFN) is a nationwide partnership of NSF supported MRSEC centers designed to provide support to researchers in the broad area of materials research in academic, government, and industrial laboratories.

The overall goal of the MRFN is to function as a national network that supports and promotes the growth of the materials science field in the United States, as well as increase its ability to compete internationally. Each center addresses the growing need for advanced fabrication, characterization, and computational tools from both academic (large and small colleges) and industrial scientists in materials research. By providing researchers with unprecedented access to instruments, techniques, and collaborators the network enhances the investigation of theory, synthesis, and characterization of materials by integrating the capabilities of individual MRSEC centers into a cooperating network.

Penn State MRSEC MRFN Faculty Fellow Program

At Penn State, the MRSEC has partnered with the Materials Research Institute to establish the MRFN Faculty Fellowship Program. This program targets the establishment of relationships between Penn State and faculty from Primarily Undergraduate Institutions in relatively nearby regional areas who are engaged in an existing research effort. 

The fellowship strives to bolster the research effort of selected fellows by providing the financial support necessary to utilize MRFN facilities on the University Park campus. Awards are in the range of $5,000 and are used to cover instrument usage and staff time charges. Travel and housing expenses are not included.  While in-person, onsite engagement with fabrication and characterization tools and technical staff is encouraged, remote access is available to researchers for particular instruments, and certain tasks can be conducted by highly trained staff . These options should be considered as viable solutions for circumventing obstacles such as COVID-19 safety restrictions or long distance, timing, and availability issues. Demonstration of complementary support is encouraged, e.g., student funding to work on the project. 

The MRFN facility partners at Penn State for this program include the Nanofabrication Laboratory and the Materials Characterization Laboratory.

Submission Requirements

  1. One page research proposal

  2. Research budget (including complementary support)

  3. Current CV

All documents should be submtted via email attachment to Josh Stapleton jjs366@psu.edu.
Questions?  Please ask!  (Contact Josh.)

NOTE:  Penn State user facilities are flexibly prepared with solutions for overcoming COVID-19 related research challenges.  Please don't hesitate to ask! 

Deadline:  Proposals for 2022 are currently being reviewed.

Feedback from Prior MRFN Faculty Fellows

“The MRFN program was a gateway to the inviting PSU community. Giving a MRSEC seminar was a great introduction to interested faculty and resulted in some joint experiments. It has also lead me to spend my sabbatical learning heterodimer synthesis, ion exchange reactions, and characterization techniques in the Schaak lab. This has opened up new pathways for research with my students and in collaboration with the Schaak lab. Embedding in the PSU chemistry department has allowed further opportunities to network with visiting seminar speakers."  – Kate Plass, Franklin & Marshall

"My manuscript was accepted! The MRFN Faculty Fellowship and associated support from your staff was absolutely key for me being able to get this publication, and it will be a critical part of my tenure application. I don't think I can overstate the impact this program has had on my career." – Sarah St. Angelo, Dickinson College

Access to the advanced instrumentation and interaction with the knowledgeable staff at the PSU MCL has been critical to the success of this project. Because of the flexibility of the MRFN program, I was also able to actively include undergraduate students from my home institution in the work, providing them an opportunity to use advanced instrumentation and collaborate in meaningful interdisciplinary research. The staff members at MCL are professional, helpful, and knowledgeable experts.”  – Alison Noble, Messiah College