New doctoral Materials Science and Engineering program crucial for Notre Dame science advancement

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

The new doctoral program in Materials Science and Engineering will attract diverse graduate students in multiple disciplines, raising the research profile in science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame, according to Mary Galvin, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science.

Dean Mary Galvin 7
Mary E. Galvin

“This is great collaboration bringing together seven departments across the Colleges of Science and Engineering.” Galvin said. “This program is something that has been missing; it breaks down into soft and hard materials, and we need more researchers in both.”

The new interdisciplinary degree program launched in July 2020, and was developed by faculty in both the College of Science and the College of Engineering to address complex problems that range from quantum computing to issues around access to clean water and energy efficiency, and even to drug discovery.

The program will coordinate courses offered across the Colleges of Engineering and Science including courses in materials synthesis, growth, physics, chemistry, characterization, and engineering. Students apply through one of these departments and programs: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, Electrical Engineering, or Physics. 

Students in the Materials Science and Engineering doctoral program will craft a research plan, working with dissertation advisors who bridge departments and colleges around problems where materials are a central focus. Students who successfully complete both department and/or program and Materials Science and Engineering requirements will earn a Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. in their discipline.

Prashant Kamat
Prashant Kamat

“This is an opportunity for Notre Dame students to work in an interdisciplinary degree program, in cross-disciplinary laboratories and gain a deeper research perspective,” said Prashant Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science in the Department of Chemistry, and member of the Materials Science and Engineering Steering Committee. “It also helps to establish collaborations for future research activities.”

Galvin, who holds degrees in polymers and materials science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, served as director for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Materials Research, the largest division in the NSF. She was responsible for setting scientific priorities for materials and condensed matter physics, and recalls funding grants for nearly every science and engineering department that exists.

She encourages students who want to study materials science to apply for the program. They will emerge with a broad base of experiences acquired through exposure to several different areas of materials science.  

“This is an area that could really unite the College of Science and the College of Engineering, and in the long run, that is great for both of us,” Galvin said.  

Competitive one-year, non-renewable fellowships for students are available. These prestigious fellowships provide a year of support for students, providing faculty and their research groups flexibility for writing proposals and expanding their programs. 

To learn more about the program, including how to apply, please visit

Brandi Wampler contributed to this report.