Monday November 20, 2017

Integrative Science and Engineering Center

A University of Dayton interdisciplinary research center has rebranded as the Integrative Science and Engineering Center to reflect the expanding interests of its faculty members in biomedical, biomolecular and environmental research.

Formerly known as the University of Dayton SupraMolecular Applied Research and Technology Center, the ISE Center brings together scientists and engineers to address emerging challenges affecting people on local, regional and global levels through research and discovery. Current affiliated faculty come from the departments of biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, geology and mathematics and are responsible for more than $3.7 million in active federal research grants.

“Many science, technology, mathematics and engineering faculty found the idea for a center for interdisciplinary research appealing, and the collective research interests of our membership were considerably wider than the field of supramolecular chemistry,” said Doug Daniels, ISE Center executive director and research professor.

Faculty voted in favor of the new name after brainstorming and discussion about the center’s mission and value. Daniels said ISE was the popular choice because it captures the center’s purposeful cross-disciplinary work and collaborative spirit.

Department of communication public relations students developed ISE’s new brand design and marketing materials as their capstone project. They’ve also planned a campaign to increase student awareness and interest in the center.

The campaign will help advertise the first ISE Summer Research Fellowship. Patterned after the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, the ISE fellowship will support a cohort of 10 University undergraduates who will perform full-time research in summer 2018. Students will receive a stipend and select from collaborative projects involving two faculty co-mentors from different academic disciplines. Applications and a list of available projects and faculty mentors are expected in early 2018.

“Students in the fellowship program will engage in authentic research experiences with faculty teams working on relevant research challenges that transcend single disciplines,” Daniels said.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Jason Pierce said the fellowship program supports the College’s strategic goal to expand opportunities for students and faculty to conduct interdisciplinary research.

“This new fellowship program affirms the capacity and talent of our students and faculty to conduct innovative interdisciplinary work,” Pierce said. “It mimics several important elements of a National Science Foundation REU-like program, which the students will find particularly impactful. I’m really pleased to see the ready collaboration between the College and School of Engineering.”

The ISE Center is housed within the College, but it also benefits STEM students and faculty in the University’s School of Engineering.

“Taking a more holistic, integrated approach to research will allow our engineering students to learn research methodologies in the natural sciences and vice versa,” said Engineering Dean Eddy Rojas. “We anticipate the collaborative nature of the ISE Center leading to new areas of exploration in the biomedical, biomolecular and environmental sciences.”

College and Engineering faculty affiliated with the center include:

Four seniors in assistant professor of communication Kelly Vibber’s Public Relations Campaigns course surveyed students to determine their level of awareness about the ISE Center. The resulting campaign calls for news articles, social media, and print and digital promotional materials to increase awareness.

Vibber said the course provides holistic experiential learning as a direct application of skills and knowledge students have learned in their major courses.

“The public relations capstone course provides an invaluable experiential opportunity to not only develop a campaign for a real client, but also to implement the campaign and evaluate its success,” she said. “This allows the students to move beyond idea generation and see the tangible outcomes of their ideas. It also allows them to grapple with the challenges that arise when putting ideas into action.”

Moving from hypothetical campaigns to working with a real client helps prepare students for post-graduation careers, said Bennett Friel, a senior communication major from Pittsburgh who served as account director.

Daniels was pleased with the students’ campaign pitch.

“Our student PR team has done excellent job of understanding the center, researching student perceptions and planning a campaign that is aimed to increase student awareness and interest in the center,” he said. “I think they are ideally positioned to understand and initiate the best way to reach students interested in interdisciplinary STEM research. Their campaign is also timely in advertising our inaugural ISE Summer Research Fellowship for 2018.”

For more information, please visit the ISE Center website.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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