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$6.9 Million Grant to Fund Research and New Science Center Construction

Science Center Rendering 1

An artist's rendition of the new science center.

—Georgetown University

December 22, 2009 – The National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded Georgetown a $6.9 million economic stimulus grant to support a soft matter research institute that will be housed in the university’s new science center.

The award is the largest amount the university has received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to date – total federal stimulus funding amounts to more than $30 million. The stimulus grant, which is for “shovel ready” projects, will go toward building the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology and the science center.

Science center construction had previously been delayed due to the recent economic crisis.

The 155,000-square-foot facility, expected to open in fall 2012, will support the chemistry, physics and biology departments and house all research wet labs and teaching labs currently in the Reiss Science Building and White-Gravenor Hall.

Moving Forward

Provost James O’Donnell, says the university had the fortune to be in the right place with the project at the right time in receiving the NIST grant.

“Providing appropriate facilities to support the research and teaching of our scientists is central to the university’s ambitions to sustain our progress and advance our standing as a leading institution,” the provost says. “The receipt of this grant and moving forward on construction of a new science center are important steps in our long-term efforts to enhance science research and teaching space at Georgetown.”

The soft matter research will explore the emerging interdisciplinary field that deals with materials that are neither traditional liquids nor solids. This includes liquid crystals, gels, colloids, polymers, foams, granular matter and many biological materials.

The field is increasingly important in developing new products and technologies and brings with it new challenges for measurement, characterization and synthesis, says O’Donnell.

Faculty members already working in the soft matter science field include physics professors Jeff Urbach, Daniel Blair, Edward Van Keuren and Tim Barbari, who also is dean of the graduate school and associate provost for research. Chemistry professors Richard Weiss and Steven Metallo have also delved into soft matter research.

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