Webcast Allows Black Graduate Students in Mississippi to Take a Course in Materials Science in California

Guillermo Bazan, a professor of materials, chemistry, and biochemistry at the University of California at Santa Barbara, is teaching a graduate course this semester on organic semiconductors structure and applications. But some of his students are thousands of miles away in a classroom at Jackson State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi.

An Internet-based Webcast connects the two classrooms so that students at both locations and Professor Bazan can continually communicate. The program is called the Partnership in Research and Education in Materials, or PREM. It was made possible by a five-year, $2.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of black students studying in material science. If the faculty and resources for such study are not available on a particular black college campus, then the Internet can bring the African-American students to a campus that has such expertise.

“There is no expertise in this area in our department,” says assistant professor of chemistry Ruomei Gao at Jackson State University, who sits in and monitors the Web classroom in Mississippi. “PREM allows our students the opportunity to attend classes taught by top scientists.”