The National Science Foundation Awards Clark Atlanta University a $3.6 Million Research and Education Grant Towards the Development of Next Generation Electronic Materials


ATLANTA (July 20, 2021) Clark Atlanta University’s (CAU) Departments of Chemistry and Physics in partnership with researchers at Spelman College and Cornell University were awarded a $3.6 million research and education grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will establish a Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program to develop next generation materials for electronic devices, over a six-year period, from September, 2021, through August, 2027. 

Clark Atlanta’s Chemistry Professor, Conrad Ingram, and Physics Professor Xiao-Qian Wang, along with Cornell University Professor, Darrell Schlom, spearheaded this effort which involved contributions from multiple researchers from the three institutions, to land the grant. CAU and Spelman College will collaborate with researchers at the Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, and Discovery of Interface Materials (PARADIM) at Cornell University. PARADIM is also a National Science Foundation-funded Materials Innovation Program directed by Professor Schlom. 

“This grant will provide a great opportunity for Clark Atlanta University and partnering institutions to significantly strengthen the research footprint in the area of materials science,” said president George T. French, Jr., Ph.D. “It will also provide opportunities for an increased number of CAU students to pursue academic and professional careers in STEM fields. We find this extremely exciting.” 

The grant will allow PREM researchers to focus on the design, synthesis and characterization of new oxide-based interface materials, towards the next generation of electronic, magnetoelectronic and optoelectronic devices. 


The PREM project’s framework elements will include engaging undergraduate and graduate students in materials science research, seminars and hands-on workshops, throughout the academic year and summers, supported by post-docs, and faculty at the three institutions. 

The main goals of the program are to significantly strengthen CAU and Spelman College engagement in materials science research and increase the participation of underrepresented minorities, mainly African-American students, in this field,” said Professor Conrad Ingram, the PREM’s Principal Investigator and Chair of Clark Atlanta University’s Chemistry Department. 

The PREM pathway will increase the number of STEM B.S and Ph.D. degrees attainment by African Americans, the predominant population served by the two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) involved. 

“With this grant, we will be providing tuition and stipends for four Ph.D. students, as well as stipends for ten undergraduate students per year,” said Professor Wang, who serves as a Co-principal investigator for the PREM. 

According to Professor Schlom, this partnership will undoubtedly help students reach their goals to be successful in the next generation electronics space. “This partnership will empower CAU and Spelman College students who have interests in discovery, to pursue their passion and harness the latest methods to invent better materials (faster, more energy efficient, and greener) for the next generation of electronics.” 

"A focus on diversity of students, faculty, and partners - paired with the revitalization of under-resourced research - is the foundation of PREM and has been the source of many successful outcomes," said Debasis Majumdar, director of the NSF PREM program. “It expands national innovation capacity and a much needed, highly trained and diverse workforce, propelling U.S. leadership in STEM fields.” 

About Clark Atlanta University 

Clark Atlanta University was formed with the consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College, both of which hold unique places in the annals of African-American history. Atlanta University, established in 1865 by the American Missionary Association, was the nation’s first institution to award graduate degrees to African-Americans. Clark College, established four years later in 1869, was the nation’s first four-year liberal arts college to serve a primarily African-American student population. Today, with nearly 4,000 students, CAU is the largest of the four institutions (CAU, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Morehouse School of Medicine) that comprise the Atlanta University Center Consortium. It is also the largest of the 37-member UNCF institutions. 


About National Science Foundation 

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts. Contact information for NSF Media Affairs: (703) 292-7090 ;