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Dartmouth Receives $3M NSF Grant to Expand PhD Innovation Programs and Advance Sensor Technology Entrepreneurship

Sep 09, 2021   |   by Julie Bonette

A new $3 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will allow Dartmouth to expand its PhD Innovation Programs at both Thayer School of Engineering and Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies by approximately 50 percent. The award is one of 23 recently distributed via NSF's National Research Traineeship (NRT) program.

Fossum lab

Professor Eric Fossum in the lab with PhD student Jiaju Ma who helped build a new kind of pixel for the Quanta Image Sensor. (Photo by Karen Endicott)

The funding will support 19 additional graduate students and help educate the next generation of STEM professionals, according to NSF. Building on the success of the current PhD Innovation Programs, Dartmouth will develop new multidisciplinary pathways for STEM graduate students focused on skills and experience in entrepreneurship and research translation; training and experiential learning opportunities enable the students to commercialize their own technologies.

"We are grateful to NSF for supporting this unique graduate research training program at Dartmouth that places a strong emphasis not only on translational research, but also on entrepreneurial-thinking skills for the successful transfer of new technology out of the university laboratory to the commercial sector to best benefit society. Such human-centered engineering and science is a hallmark of Dartmouth and often results in the creation of start-up companies that create jobs and benefit the economy in the State of New Hampshire," said PI Eric Fossum, Director of the PhD Innovation Programs.

"We are thrilled that this award will allow us to increase the number of places in the Innovation Program for our students, further expanding this very important program at the Guarini and Thayer Schools," said Guarini Dean Jon Kull.

With the additional funding, Dartmouth will also focus on recruiting entrepreneurially-minded graduate student researchers focused on sensor technology applications and commercialization. Sensors impact the lives of nearly every human being, and new and emerging sensor technologies are key for scientific discovery. From image sensors that have revolutionized digital cameras and social communication to biosensors that rapidly detect and monitor disease, new sensor technology has constantly improved humans' understanding of life, our planet, and the universe.

"This new funding is important as it allows us to both grow the PhD Innovation Programs and support critical new research in sensor innovations across disciplinary boundaries. Thayer and Dartmouth's biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics departments are all involved, and we will add Innovation Program fellows at both Thayer and Guarini," said co-PI Laura Ray, the Myron Tribus Professor of Engineering Innovation at Thayer.

The grant went into effect on September 1 of this year. Dartmouth's Katherine Mirica, associate professor of chemistry, and Temiloluwa Prioleau, assistant professor of computer science, are also co-PIs.

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