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Program Components

Program Components

The MCTP program consists of five major components:


In their second year of graduate study, the newly-selected MCTP fellows take a group of four required courses that have been designed to facilitate student comprehension of device evolution, including the need to integrate basic knowledge from different disciplines (chemistry, physics, and all aspects of engineering), and the need to integrate basic science with practical aspects of fabrication, characterization and production.  These courses are: (1) a one quarter Materials Chemistry Laboratory (Chem 285), which has a lecture component as well; (2) the new one quarter MCTP Fabrication Laboratory; (3) a two-quarter seminar, Evolution of Devices, from Concept to Product (Chem 283), and (4) six quarters (two full years) of the MCTP Brown-Bag Seminar (Chem 284), which involves presentations by the IGERT fellows on their own research, their internships, and the scientific literature; (5) Research Ethics (Chem 203B).   

1)  Materials Chemistry Laboratory, Chem 285 (1st quarter).  The lecture component provides the basic materials science and engineering background, giving students a common foundation for their MCTP electives and research.  The course gives students a broad introduction to materials synthesis, materials characterization, and wet-chemical device fabrication.  The experiments are performed by teams of 3 to 5 students with diverse backgrounds spanning chemistry, physics, and the various engineering fields.  By working in teams, the students learn the language of each other's disciplines, and develop their time-management, teamwork, communication and leadership skills. The course is taught in a large, remodeled instrumentation lab that is dedicated to this course and our advanced instrumental analysis lab.  The instrumentation includes equipment purchased with NSF and institutional matching funds during the first phase of the IGERT.

Each multi-week experiment integrates materials synthesis, structural characterization and physical property measurements.  Approximately half of the experiments also involve fabrication and device characterization.  Participants learn to conceptualize and design new materials by considering the macroscopic properties that result from controlling structure at the molecular level. The current experiments include: Synthesis and Characterization of CdSe Quantum Dots, Thermal Properties of Polymers and Polymer Blends, Photonic Materials:  Synthesis and Characterization of Crystals of Silica Colloids, Electropolymerization of an Electrochromic Device Based on PEDOT, Synthesis and Magnetic Properties Characterization of High Tc Superconductors, Fabrication of a Polymer Based LED,  Polyaniline Nanowire Gas Sensors, Carbon Nanotube-Based Transparent Conductors, and Electrochemical Switching of Thiol-Based Self-Assembled Monolayers.  New experiments on enzyme-based sol-gel biosensors and synthetic drug delivery systems are being developed.

2)  MCTP Nanostructure Fabrication Laboratory (new course, under development, will likely be offered in Spring quarter of the 1st year in the program).  The fabrication lab course will give students experience with device fabrication techniques for nanosystems. Students will learn standard, soft- and e-beam lithography, as well as embossing. After gaining experience with the process variables, students will create nanostructured devices that can be used as part of measurement systems for nanodimensional solids: for example, lithographically defined structures for conductivity measurements of carbon nanotubes or magnetic measurements on colloidal particles.  Housed in a new fabrication facility in the CNSI building, the lab will make use of new equipment to be purchased as part of the institutional commitment to the MCTP.

3)  Evolution of Devices: from Concept to Product seminar (2nd & 3rd quarters).  This showcases research discoveries that have evolved from collaborative efforts, teaches strategies for successful collaborations, and introduces students to how research discoveries ultimately translate into the business and public sectors.  A particularly successful component has been a five-week series of lectures on the topics of innovation, intellectual property, patent law, and entrepreneurship.  A new segment on strategies for successful collaborations has been developed that utilizes an NIH Office of Research Integrity web-based module.  Other topics have included science education and implementation of K-12 outreach programs, and the interface between science and digital media arts.  Industrial partners have also presented seminars.

4)  MCTP Brown-Bag Seminar (6 quarters).  This successful luncheon seminar is a forum for discussing the current literature and the trainees' research, enhancing communication and cooperation, and creating a sense of community among the IGERT participants. The IGERT training faculty regularly attend.  As the fellows present journal articles and their own work, they teach one another the languages of their fields and share their recent discoveries. The trainees offer suggestions on each others' projects, invite one another to their labs to learn new techniques, offer to train each other on shared instrumentation in the MCTP lab, coach each other in presentation skills, and initiate collaborations, completely independent of their advisors.

5)  Research Ethics (Chem 203B).  All new MCTP trainees are required to take the 2-unit, 10-week Chem 203B seminar, which focuses on ethics in graduate education, teaching, and chemical research.  Issues that are addressed include conflicts of interest, ethical issues in collaborative efforts, standards for digital manipulation of visual data, plagiarism, fraud, intellectual property, sexual harassment, and other topics related to the responsible conduct of research.

Cross-disciplinary internship at a company, national laboratory, or other university

The goals of the internship are to provide a research experience complementary to each student's core area of study, develop and enhance collaborations between the participating research groups, build students' teamwork and networking skills and help them make informed career choices after obtaining their degrees.  Ideally, the internship is done outside of academia or outside of the U.S.  A trainee typically spends approximately three months at a national, industrial or international laboratory, working on a basic or applied interdisciplinary project that falls within the overall research scope of the MCTP.  The PI and Co-PIs work closely with the industrial and national laboratory partners to ensure that the structure and scope of the internship experiences meet our training goals.  Follow-up includes submission of a trainee evaluation letter by the internship mentor, and review of this letter as part of each trainee's overall portfolio during the annual student evaluation and the overall MCTP assessment.  We have also used feedback from the trainees to optimize the duration and timing of the internship experience.  Click Here for a list of MCTP approved internships.

Mentoring and supervising undergraduates

During one of the two summers of the MCTP program fellows will mentor an undergraduate who is participating in the UCLA Nanosystems Chemistry and Engineering Research (NanoCER) Program.  Trainees are also encouraged to mentor undergraduates during the academic year.

Technical presentations at MCTP Annual Symposia and conferences

Our trainees hone their communication skills by participating in the seminar programs in their home departments, by giving presentations in the MCTP brown-bag seminar, by participating in the MCTP Annual Symposium, and by giving presentations at external workshops and conferences.  The Annual Symposium brings together all of the training faculty, trainees, internship mentors and other representatives from our partner corporate and national laboratories, as well as members of the Advisory Board.  Current and past MCTP fellows present their work through posters and short talks, receiving feedback from peers, research mentors, MCTP alumni, and potential employers.

Outreach Activities

The MCTP trainees have engaged in highly successful outreach efforts, in partnership with the CNSI and Center X in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Science (GSE&IS). Through participation in these outreach activities, the trainees' technical, interpersonal, leadership and communication skills have been honed.  Currently, over 35 high school science teachers from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have been trained by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers on different experiments that can be taught in the classroom.

The goal of this outreach program is to enrich science education in the LAUSD through the use of hands-on experiments in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The organizers -- graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from the basic sciences and engineering -- have designed and conducted a number of workshops for high school science teachers from LAUSD. The teachers are taught how to do the experiments with their students; educated on the scientific background needed to understand and explain the experiments to their students; and shown how the experiments fit with the California state science standards. The outreach program is providing all of the necessary supplies to the LAUSD teachers so that they can perform these experiments in their classrooms.

The program is led by MCTP Executive Board  faculty member, Professor Sarah Tolbert.

Click here for more information about the NanoScience Community Outreach Program.
Click here for more information about the specific experiments being taught.