July 10-11, 2003

 

ITEM 120-2002-R0703       Authorization to Establish the Center for Bio-Inspired NanoMaterials (CBIN); Montana State University-Bozeman

 

THAT:                              The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes the establishment of the Center for Bio-Inspired NanoMaterials (CBIN) at Montana State University-Bozeman

 

EXPLANATION:               The Montana State University Center for Bio-Inspired NanoMaterials (CBIN) will initiate a long-term multidisciplinary program to study materials from synthetic, biological, physical, and applications perspectives.  Current research programs incorporate chemistry, microbiology, and physics into a complete physiochemical examination of the formation and properties of bio-inspired materials.  The long-term goal is to determine the principles through which living organisms form and utilize nanostructured assemblies, and to apply these principles to the creation of new transformational nanotechnologies.  One of the major outcomes of this research will be a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of biomaterial formation and their application to synthetic materials fabrication and understanding of their physical properties.  The research program will combine individual PI-driven projects and strong collaborative interactions.  The CBIN will also have a strong educational component that will incorporate undergraduate and graduate student training, postdoctoral training, a visiting scholars program, and a seminar series.  It is expected that establishment of the CBIN will serve as a scholarly and industrial research center for the study of bio-inspired materials, which will drive creation of an environmentally clean industry for Montana, and will generate sustained economic development for the Greater Yellowstone Region.

 

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

 

Current and future funding will provide the means for an interdisciplinary team of MSU-Bozeman scientists to initiate a long-term research/education program that will focus diverse talents and resources on the establishment of a premier international center for materials research.  These research and educational activities are facilitated by the significant synergy and cooperation within the group of faculty at MSU-Bozeman, which affords the opportunity to address aspects of bio-inspired materials that cross disciplinary boundaries.  It is indeed this multidisciplinary approach that will allow the CBIN to make significant advances in our understanding of new materials.  In addition, this approach will serve as a model for studying materials in ways that help bridge the different approaches that exist between microbiology, chemistry, molecular biology, and physics.

 

CENTER STRUCTURE AND IMPLEMENTATION

 

Structure and Administration

 

Each participating CBIN faculty member is expected to have a competitively funded research program in materials research or materials characterization.  Initial funding will be used to stimulate new research initiatives and to create a multidisciplinary research environment for examining bio-inspired materials.  The CBIN faculty will meet weekly to discuss relevant issues, present updates on individual research projects, and to plan future research.  The proposed CBIN is co-directed by Drs. Trevor Douglas and Yves Idzerda, and is currently comprised of 5 tenure-track faculty, with the intention of bringing in additional faculty to broaden the scope and direction of the center.

 

Educational Component

 

Educational/research opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows are an integral component of the CBIN.  A recently established interdepartmental graduate course will be taught to integrate the microbiology, chemistry, and physics perspectives. The CBIN will also fund a visiting scholars program, where internationally eminent scientists will be invited for extended visits.  The visiting scholar will teach a seminar-style course to be attended by the CBIN faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates.  We believe that the opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to directly interact and intimately discuss issues with these world-class scientists will prove to be a very enriching and growth-promoting experience.  We also anticipate exciting interactions between the CBIN faculty and these visiting scholars.  Finally, a monthly seminar program will allow the CBIN faculty to invite scientists from throughout the world to visit, provide an update of their current research, and discuss possibilities for collaboration.

  

Importance to Montana State University-Bozeman

 

MSU-Bozeman is in a position to take advantage of the enormous scientific and commercial potential resulting from industrial and technological development of existing expertise in the faculty.  Establishing MSU-Bozeman as a scholarly and industrial research center for the study of bio-inspired materials will: i) drive creation of an environmentally clean industry for Montana; ii) generate high-paying jobs filled by MSU-Bozeman trained graduates; and iii) create a sustained revenue flow for the Greater Yellowstone Region.   The economic gain from tech-related jobs alone would be substantial and does not include the potentially large royalty returns to MSU-Bozeman for novel materials discovered by MSU-Bozeman scientists and students.

  

The CBIN will be funded initially with competitive funding from both industry and federal sources.  It is the expectation that these funds will continue and that additional funding from the private sector and other federal research and education agencies will be acquired.  Successful technology transfer may also provide continuing operating funds for the CBIN.