Strengthening research collaborations and student pathways with Navajo Technical University

Top left and center: NTU participant Katelyn Wilson leads a tour of the Clarke laboratory at Harvard, showcasing her project in fabrication of dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) in summer 2023. Top right: Implementation and training at Navajo Tech on DEAs. Bottom left: Post-baccalaureate student Michael Nelwood with Jennifer Lewis and Dylan Barber at Harvard. Bottom right: NTU-Chinle students Oliver Yellowhair, Bianca Todacheenie, and Drealle Estrada present on their research in the Weitz lab on encapsulating Navajo remedies using microfluidics at Harvard in summer 2023.

The Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) between Navajo Technical University and the MRSEC based at Harvard focuses on developing culturally-informed, sustainable pathways into materials science-related careers and advanced studies for Navajo students. This partnership has increased research and educational infrastructure by developing new laboratories at Navajo Tech and introducing new lines of research in the MRSEC.

Major accomplishments in 2023-2024 include (1) new research lab at Navajo Tech for the design and fabrication of dielectric elastomer actuators with Clarke, Lewis, Wood, Soundappan, and Ramoni, (2) student presentations and awards at local and national conferences, (3) strengthened NTU-MRSEC post-baccalaureate pathways, and (4) expansion of this partnership to Navajo Tech’s Chinle campus.

MRSEC graduate student applies science and engineering in the Navajo Nation
Robinson Tom goes from Navajo Tech REU summer researcher to MRSEC Ph.D. student

Jennifer A. Lewis (Material Science & Bioengineering), and Thiagarajan Soundappan (NTU - Chemistry, School of Science)
2023-2024 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-2011754)