Particle-based Functional Materials
Research Experience for Undergraduates


Program Description

Today's advances don't happen in isolation, but instead occur at the intersection of two or more technologies. This is especially true in biomedicine, sustainability, and energy. Our GAANN fellowships for PhD students in chemical engineering focuses on computational and experimental studies of particulate materials that fulfill a specific function, either because of their discrete nature or due to the influence of particles on the structure of a macroscopic material. Such systems include: self-healing composites, controlled delivery of therapeutics, "smart" catalysts, and particle separations, to name a few.

The students will work with (groups of) faculty on a research project relevant to particle-based functional materials. Fellows participate in the PFM program during the first 2 years of their PhD: taking 12 course credits related to particle-based functional materials; performing research on understanding and controlling the detailed particle-scale structure of complex materials; participating in training aimed at preparation for teaching; and, teaching a course (or portion thereof) with supervision and feedback.

The ultimate goals of the program include:

Program Duration: 2 years

Stipend: $30,000 during GAANN participation (regular departmental rate for remainder of PhD).

Eligibility: Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are enrolled in (or applying for) our PhD degree program in chemical engineering.

Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

The Department ( has a tradition of excellence in education and research, evidenced by recent national awards including numerous NSF CAREER Awards, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, among others. Active areas of research in the Department include Biological and Biomedical Systems; Energy and Sustainability; and Materials Modeling and Design. The faculty have a record of success in obtaining research funding such that the Department ranks within the top 25 U.S. ChE departments for Federal R&D spending in recent years with annual research expenditures exceeding $5M. The vibrant research culture within the Department includes active collaboration with the adjacent University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Simulation and Modeling, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering and the U.S. DOE-affiliated Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions. In addition, the Swanson School is in the midst of a $100M renovation and redesign of their facilities in Benedum Engineering Hall. The Department currently has 14 tenure stream faculty and student enrollment of approximately 230 undergraduate and 50 graduate students.

About the University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh has been a vital force in American higher education since 1787. In the ensuing 200+ years, the strength and scope of the University's programs have gained national and international prominence. Pitt is one of the 58 major North American research universities which are members of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). As an international institution with strong local roots, the University of Pittsburgh undertakes a three-pronged mission of education, research, and public service. With its main campus located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pitt also serves Western Pennsylvania with regional campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville.

If you are eligible to participate and would like additional information, please feel free to contact Dr. Joseph McCarthy by phone at (412) 624-7362, or by email at