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Dow Invests In Education

Research: Firm will spend $250 million on chemistry programs at U.S. universities

by Marc S. Reisch
October 10, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 41

Credit: Dow Chemical
Dow expects its own scientists will benefit from university research.
Dow Chemical is bolstering doctoral research in chemistry at U.S. universities.
Credit: Dow Chemical
Dow expects its own scientists will benefit from university research.

Dow Chemical says it will spend $250 million over the next 10 years to support breakthrough chemical technologies at 11 major universities. The funds will help significantly increase the number of chemistry and chemical engineering Ph.D.s at the schools.

Funded Universities

California Institute of Technology

Carnegie Mellon University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Northwestern University

Pennsylvania State University

University of California, Berkeley

UC Santa Barbara

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

University of Wisconsin

Source: Dow Chemical

Announcing the program at an Oct. 4 investor day in New York City, Dow CEO Andrew N. Liveris said it will help relieve a shortage of young people in the U.S. attracted to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

At the same time, Liveris said, “the program will capture innovative technology on exclusive terms” from leading institutions conducting research in areas such as catalysis, energy, electronics, and transportation. Dow will get rights to intellectual property generated under the program.

“This is a massive outreach program,” William F. Banholzer, Dow’s chief technology officer, told C&EN at the investor meeting. Over the next decade, about $25 million will go annually to the universities. The funding more than doubles what Dow has been spending each year on chemistry programs at U.S. academic institutions, he said.

“We’re not just doing this for education, but to solve problems,” Banholzer said. At many universities, students see biotechnology as the future. “Don’t get me wrong. Biotechnology is important. But we need to get a better balance,” he said, and be sure universities can undertake chemistry-related research.

Professors contacted by C&EN profess enthusiasm for the program. “We’re creating a Dow Materials Research Institute,” says Craig J. Hawker, director of the Materials Research Laboratory and professor of materials, chemistry, and biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dow had previously supported small individual programs at the school. The new materials research effort, in contrast, will garner $13 million over the next five years and support 25 to 30 graduate students each year, Hawker says. The program is renewable for another five years.

Frank S. Bates, professor and head of the department of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of Minnesota, tells C&EN that Dow is providing $12 million over five years to fund research in chemistry and his department in areas such as polymer science, photovoltaic materials, and catalysis. Another $5 million will go toward a $21 million addition to the chemical engineering building. This will allow the school to add up to six new faculty members and increase enrollment in chemistry and engineering programs by about 45 students.



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