MRSEC-NTU Partnership: Expanding Pathways for Navajo Students

Harvard MRSEC and Navajo Tech faculty, students, and staff gather at Harvard University for 3 weeks of research collaboration
MRSEC graduate students discuss weaving and knitting with Navajo Tech collaborators
Jesslynn Chief presents her research on encapsulation of Navajo tea and juniper extract

Following Navajo Technical University was awarded a 6-year NSF Partnership in Research and Education in Materials, with the Harvard Materials Research Science & Engineering. To deepen the research and education partnership, a large contingent of Navajo Tech faculty and students visited Harvard for several weeks during July-August 2021. New and continuing collaborations with MRSEC faculty in the areas of soft actuators, weaving, 3D printed batteries, and microfluidics were discussed, and students engaged in 3-week projects that incorporated Navajo traditional knowledge into MRSEC research. Student projects included exploring the antimicrobial properties of encapsulated Navajo tea and juniper berry extracts, adapting the soft robotics toolkit for outreach at Navajo Tech, and learning techniques for 3D printing of batteries. These discussions and trainings were continued during the academic year, yielding new applications of MRSEC research.

Jennifer A. Lewis (Material Science & Bioengineering) and Thiagarajan Soundappan (NTU - Chemistry, School of Science)
2021-2022 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-2011754)