The Materials Research Center (MRC) was first established in 1959 with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding and has received continual external funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (1959-72) and the National Science Foundation (1973-present), most recently through its Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program. In addition to administering the NSF-MRSEC grant, MRC received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) in 2013 as a new collaborative endeavor in conservation science that pursues objects-based and objects-inspired materials research. Another significant active MRC research grant is focusing on anti-ambipolar heterojunction electronic devices through the NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program.
The mission of the MRC is to create the infrastructure and develop programs in materials research, education, and outreach that transform society. The center’s long-term strategic plan includes a continued focus on research excellence and innovation, acquisition of new instrumentation in shared facilities, and support for high-impact programs that strengthen the educational pipeline and broaden the participation of all groups in science and engineering disciplines. Funding is allocated to maximize impact on the production of new knowledge, both fundamental and applied, for the Northwestern research community and society as a whole, and to build on the Center’s national and international reputation in materials research and its broad portfolio of industry, national laboratory, museum, and international collaborations. The interdisciplinary training of early-career scientists (i.e., graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty members) is at the heart of the integrated research and education mission of the Center.