New UCSB Program Focuses on Energy Solutions

ConvEne” Grad Program Looks at Energy, Economics, Environment

UCSB is offering a new kind of graduate school education with the addition of the Conversion of Energy Through Molecular Platforms (ConvEne) program. The fifth UCSB program from the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), this program will instruct science and engineering students in solving energy challenges while also taking into account economic feasibility and environmental sustainability.

This interdisciplinary PhD program will be funded with a $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation as well as $750,000 coming from the university itself, allowing support of 55 student years. The program was developed in reaction to a large number of students and faculty who felt that today’s energy crisis deserved attention. UCSB is already home to many energy-related research programs - such as organic material usage in solar energy conversion - so IGERT will be an addition to energy studies such as inorganic and organic material synthesis, and the use of organics in photovoltaic.

Many UCSB departments will be involved, including the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the Technology Management Program, the materials engineering department, and others. From these fields of study, almost 20 researchers will participate in IGERT to ensure a multi-departmental approach. Besides incorporation of business, economics, and environment, students of IGERT will be taught community relations and thus will partake in Family Science Night, an already existent program for Santa Barbara and Goleta third graders that will adopt this energy-focused curriculum.

Although ConvEne begins as graduate student education, the program is designed to continue through doctorate work in the subject matter. ConvEne has been running since mid September and will last five years.

Suzanne Heibel is an Independent intern.

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