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University of Wisconsin - University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez


The Wisconsin - Puerto Rico Partnership for Research and Education in Materials - Wi(PR)2EM seeks to strengthen and broaden past collaborations between the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) by leveraging and augmenting the reach of such alliances to develop a formal long-lasting relationship in nanostructured materials research and education. Wi(PR)2EM promotes the formation of a strong strategic partnership by fostering and expanding current and emergent research projects in collaboration with UW’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Interfaces(MRSEC) and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center on Templated Synthesis and Assembly at the Nanoscale (NSEC) and by combining research and education expertise found in the participating institutions into truly synergistic groups.

Wi(PR)2EM impacts a diverse collection of research areas organized into four interdisciplinary research teams (IRT) and one interdisciplinary educational and outreach team (EOT), all of which have developed and characterized novel materials and processes for a variety of innovative applications.  

IRT 1. Host-defense peptide-mimetic foldamers and polymers as targeted antimicrobial agents, P. Ortiz-Bermúdez, (UPRM leader), S. Gellman, (UW leader), M. Torres-Lugo, J. López-Garriga, K. Riley, J. J. de Pablo, N. Abbott, and S. Palecek

IRT 1 has performed preliminary design, synthesis, and characterization of beta-peptides.  Protocols to test antifungal activity of beta-peptides were also established as well as for the elucidation of the mechanisms of action of beta-peptides in fungi.  

IRT 2. Nanoparticle Heteroaggregation and Transport in Porous Media, C. Rinaldi (UPRM leader), J. A. Pedersen, (UW leader), U. Córdova, C. H. Benson, and R. J. Hamers

IRT 2 has developed a laboratory scale model Waste Water Treatment Process to study the effects of various types of engineered nanoparticles added to waste water affect the separation efficiency of the process and the process parameters. 

IRT 3. Liquid crystalline elastomers and gels, A. Acevedo (UPRM leader), J. J. de Pablo (UW leader), C. Rinaldi, F. M. Aliev, N. L. Abbott, and R. Hamers

IRT 3 has prepared and physically/magnetically characterized polymer nanocomposites consisting of iron oxide and cobalt ferrite nanoparticles dispersed in a bulk poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) matrix, has studied the effect of particle size and shape on the phase behavior and rheology of lyotropic and thermotropic liquid crystalline polymers, and qualitatively investigated the influence of confinement of liquid crystal in random porous medium, similar to those found on CLCs.  

IRT 4. Multifunctional Nanoporous Materials for Sustainable Catalysis, N. Cardona-Martínez (UPRM leader), J. A. Dumesic (UW leader), A. J. Hernández-Maldonado, M. Mavrikakis, P. Voyles, and M. C. Curet-Arana

IRT 4 has synthesized, characterized, and tested catalytic materials with various functionalities and is developing alkaline earth metal-based porous coordination polymers with pillared layer structure (CPL) sorbents for CO2 capturing. 

EOT. Education and Outreach in Materials Science and Engineering and Nanotechnology, J. López-Garriga (UPRM leader), G. M. Zenner (UW leader), N. Cardona-Martínez, A. Greenberg, and W. Resto-Otero

A vibrant educational and outreach effort has been established to expose K-12 audiences to state-of-the-art materials science, incorporate creative and proven college-level programs, that aims to recruit, nurture, and retain students from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM disciplines.