The Pentagon announced that it is partnering with two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to establish Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in Biotechnology and Materials Science.

“The department continues to forge partnerships with academia to stimulate research and innovation leading to the development of critical technologies required to meet our warfighter needs,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, acting deputy director for research, technology, and laboratories in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD R&E). “Biotechnology and materials science remains a priority across the Department to achieve new operational capabilities ranging from strengthening chemical-biological defense systems to impacting warfighter performance.  We are excited for the range of activities the Centers will conduct in their technical areas and look forward to the foremost research contributions to the defense research enterprise.”

In a press release, the Pentagon said two HBCUs were selected following a merit competition conducted by the OUSD R&E’s HBCU and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI) Research and Education Program. The awards were issued by the Army Research Laboratory.

The selected HBCUs will research two defense priority areas over a five-year period.

The selected HBCUs are:

  • “North Carolina A&T State University, Center for Biotechnology: North Carolina A&T State University and collaborative partner, Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, will lead research to develop technology for detection and monitoring of chemical and biological threat agents using an integrated micro-engineered organ equivalent system. The proposed system will be used to characterize the effect of various pharmacological and toxicological agents—including threat agents relevant to national defense.
  • Morgan State University, Center for Advanced Electro-Photonics with 2D Materials: Morgan State University will partner with Johns Hopkins University to explore the technological potential of an emergent class of two-dimensional (2D) materials for use by the Defense Department. The projects will target properties of 2D materials for specific areas of technology including wearable photovoltaics (PV) and thermally-managed photo-sensors as well as hybrid PV thermoelectric technologies for use by individual warfighters.”

In addition to conducting research, the CoEs will also provide training to underrepresented students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, especially subject areas identified as being of “critical importance” to the Defense Department. In addition to providing training to students pursuing secondary and post-secondary degrees, the CoEs will also offer training to K-12 students. The Pentagon said the goal of the training is to “strengthen the talent pool entering the STEM pipeline” and to “enable a diverse and capable STEM workforce”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs