Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The future looks bright for engineering and the physical sciences, as the University of Iowa makes preparations to launch a consolidated and highly focused center housing research equipment used for in-depth analysis and testing. 

Green laser

Located in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories (IATL), the new Center for Research, Exploration, and Advanced Technology in Engineering and Sciences (Iowa CREATES) will house and administer a newly formed Materials Analysis, Testing, and Fabrication (MATFab) facility to support cutting-edge research activities.


The project is a collaboration involving the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR&ED), the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), and the College of Engineering.


“Until now, this very expensive and highly sensitive equipment has been housed in multiple locations around campus,” said John Keller, interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development. “This effort allows us to bring these valuable assets related to engineering and the physical science under one roof, make them easier to access and use.”


The center will bring together all or part of existing UI units, including several already located in IATL under the umbrella of the Optical Science and Technology Center (OSTC) and the UI Microfabrication Facility (UIMF). Additionally, relevant instrumentation and one staff member from the Central Microscopy Research Facility (CMRF) will be relocated from their current locations in Trowbridge Hall and the Eckstein Medical Research Building (EMRB).


CMRF will continue to operate as a biosciences imaging facility in its location in EMRB.


The new center and facility will report to OVPR&ED, with continued support from CLAS and Engineering.


Chris Cheatum, associate professor of chemistry, will serve as director of Iowa CREATES. Aju Jugessur, currently director of the UIMF, will continue to support micro/nano fabrication activities in the MATFab facility. And Kenny Horkley, currently a core facility research specialist with CMRF, will continue his work supporting instrumentation for materials characterization in MATFab.


Keller says the new space should be up and running by spring 2019.


He said the change was prompted by several factors: lack of consistent support for valuable equipment, the cost of maintaining and upgrading equipment, subpar links between researchers’ needs and available equipment, and a lack of awareness across campus that these resources exist and how they might be relevant to investigators’ work--especially among newer faculty and research staff.


“OVPR&ED also wanted to reinvest in and reinvigorate research in the physical sciences and engineering,” Keller said. “I think you’ll find the new space, and its administration, much more conducive to the important work you do.”


Keller said the consolidation wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Cheatum, Senior Associate Vice President for Research Rich Hichwa, and an advisory committee made up of David Cwiertny, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Faculty Research Engineer for IIHR--Hydroscience & Engineering; Tori Forbes, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Fatima Toor, Assistant Professor of both Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics and Astronomy; Syed Mubeen, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; David Peate, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences; and John Prineas, Professor of Physics and Astronomy.


He also thanked CLAS Interim Dean Joe Kearny and Engineering Dean Alec Scranton for supporting vision that is making this move possible.


The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at http://research.uiowa.edu, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover