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Waubonsee Faculty Will Use Grant to Engage Students in Research

A Waubonsee Community College Physics instructor plans to use a grant she recently received to expose students to her ongoing research with Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Nanomaterials (CNM).

Soma Chattopadhyay, Waubonsee Adjunct Professor of Physics, was awarded the Dr. Joseph T. Cipfl Faculty Grant from the Illinois Community College Faculty Association. These grants are used to support faculty research projects that are “strongly tied to student learning.”

Chattopadhyay said she will use the grant to engage students in her ongoing research with Argonne to find new anti-reflective coating (ARC) materials used for solar panels, eye-glasses and displays.

“I am really hoping to give students exposure to research,” Chattopadhyay said. “I hope that it can inspire them to think about jobs beyond the technical. So often the research concept scares people but it’s actually simple. I feel this could be the seed for planting bigger things in their minds.”

Chattopadhyay received her PhD in Physics from Tata institute of Fundamental Research in India. She did postdoctoral research work in the Department of Materials Science and engineering at Northwestern University, Electrical Engineering and Materials Science departments of North Carolina State University and at the Chemical Engineering department of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). She was a research staff scientist at IIT before she started teaching physics and engineering courses at Waubonsee and other colleges.

Waubonsee officials signed a user agreement with Argonne to help Chattopadhyay start her research on ARC materials with help from renowned scientists Dr. Elena V. Shevchenko and Dr. Seth B. Darling of the Center for Nanomaterials at Argonne.

Lorrie S. Stahl, Waubonsee Assistant Dean for Mathematics and Sciences supported Chattopadhyay’s efforts towards applying for and receiving the grant.

“Students at Waubonsee will directly be able to experience the research process afford by the grant,” she said. “It provides students an opportunity to start building their network of contacts in STEM for future research and employment.”

Each grant is funded by contributions from the 48 public community colleges in Illinois and is awarded to four professors every year in Illinois, on a competitive basis. In addition to awarding faculty research and faculty workshop grants, the ICCFA awards a number of student scholarships and supports an annual conference in teaching and learning.

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