BOX 1.1

The MRSEC Program Mission Statement

Following is the current mission statement of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program (MRSEC program):

MRSECs [Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers] are supported by NSF [National Science Foundation] to undertake materials research of a scope and complexity that would not be feasible under traditional funding of individual research projects. NSF support is intended to reinforce the base of individual investigator and small group research by providing the flexibility to address topics requiring an approach of broad scope and duration. MRSECs incorporate most or all of the following activities to an extent consistent with the size and vision of the Center:

  • Programs to stimulate interdisciplinary education and the development of human resources (including support for underrepresented groups) through cooperation and collaboration with other organizations and sectors, as well as within the host organization. Cooperative programs with organizations serving predominantly underrepresented groups in science and engineering are strongly encouraged.

  • Active cooperation with industry to stimulate and facilitate knowledge transfer among the participants and strengthen the links between university-based research and its application.

  • Cooperation and collaboration with other academic organizations and national laboratories.

  • Active efforts to establish research collaborations and education activities at the international level are strongly encouraged. Cooperative activities may include, but are not limited to: joint research programs; affiliate programs; joint development and use of shared experimental facilities; access to user facilities; visiting scientist programs; joint educational ventures; joint seminar series, colloquia or workshops.

  • Support for shared experimental facilities, properly staffed, equipped and maintained, and accessible to users from the Center, the participating organizations, and other organizations and sectors.

Each MRSEC has the responsibility to manage and evaluate its own operation with respect to program administration, planning, content and direction.1


1National Science Foundation, Program Solicitation for Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, NSF 04-580, Washington, D.C., 2004.

is a complex story, but underlying it is the materials research and development (R&D) supporting the invention and fabrication of such new materials.

Materials research has some features that differentiate it from other types of science and engineering. The work tends to be of a long-range character, and new materials tend to have far-reaching implications for many other fields of science, from medicine to high-energy physics, and for the economic and strategic health of

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