Women in Materials

The Women in Materials (WIM) program at Simmons is designed to enhance undergraduate coursework for science majors or pre-med (including dental or veterinarian) students. WIM students take materials science courses, participate in research with faculty, and use sophisticated instruments in order to prepare for graduate study, medical school, or careers in high-tech industry and areas of medical research.


In 2001, WIM began with a single research project focused on organic electronics, funded by the National Science Foundation, and in collaboration with the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR). Since then, WIM has expanded to include other research projects involving photovoltaics, carbon nanotube sensors, environmental contamination, and green polymers for the semiconductor industry. WIM now involves six faculty from the Chemistry and Physics Departments, and approximately 25% of our science majors are involved in WIM research each semester--approximately 80% of these students are 1st or 2nd year students.

Experience in WIM prepares students for their senior thesis, and as a result, many students now get started on their thesis during their junior year. Overall, the program has led to an increase in the number of students jointly authoring/presenting papers with faculty, majoring in physics, minoring in materials science, enrolling in materials-related REUs and entering PhD programs in materials science or related disciplines.

Physics of Materials Minor

The Women in Materials program provides students with an opportunity to take courses, conduct research, and Minor in the Physics of Materials.
Related Majors and Programs
WIM is a continually evolving partnership between Simmons College and the Cornell Center for Materials Research.

Questions? Contact Us

For more information about Women in Materials faculty, courses, and research opportunities, or to find out how to get involved in the program, contact us.

National Science Foundation Grant Recipient

The Women in Materials program and this Web site are based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DMR 0605621 and DMR-0108497. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
About Materials
What are materials? The substance of civilizations past and present! From stone, iron, and bronze to steel, rubber, glass, and polythene. Technological advances in all areas, from growing artificial skin to developing faster computers, are critically dependent on advances in materials research.

Materials scientists and engineers study the structure and properties of materials. They design new types of materials and tailor the properties of existing materials to create new products and applications. In addition to established areas of materials science, emerging fields are yielding new materials that will impact the future and change our lives—perhaps sooner than we can imagine.


Materials scientists and engineers find employment opportunities in every industrial sector, from communications technology and the computer industry, to biotechnology and chemical engineering. If shaping the future is an idea that captures your imagination, then you might want to explore careers in the realm of materials research. The Women in Materials program provides a hands-on opportunity to check it out.
WIM provides opportunities for science students to differentiate their coursework and widen their experience with sophisticated instrumentation.

Through WIM students can take courses in materials and/or minor in the Physics of Materials. All courses emphasize general theoretical and practical applications of materials. Laboratory work stresses the use of sophisticated instrumentation and the understanding of processes used in the semiconductor and optoelectronics industries (optical and electrical measurements, polymer synthesis and evaluation, photolithography, scanning electron and atomic force microscopy, computer modeling, and thin film preparation of metals, polymers, and semiconducting materials).

Minor in Physics of Materials

The minor in the physics of materials exposes students to some of the key topics in materials science and provides students with opportunities to participate in materials research and use advanced instrumentation. The experience and knowledge gained are particularly relevant because technological advances in all areas, from growing artificial skin to developing faster computers, are critically dependent on innovations in materials research. Therefore, this minor is particularly appropriate for biology, chemistry, or biochemistry majors or premedical (veterinary or dental) students.

For course details, see the Department of Physics website.


Academic-Year Research Stipends, Travel Awards to Attend Scientific Meetings, Summer Research Fellowships

Five WIM students (2 first-year, 2 second-year, and 1 third-year) attended the Materials Research Society Meeting in San Francisco in April 2009 with Prof. Goldberg and presented their poster, Degradation of Ir(ppy)2(dtb-bpy)PF6 iTMC OLEDs.

Simmons undergraduates in the Women in Materials program have the opportunity to participate in professional research with faculty. Other opportunities include academic-year research stipends, summer employment, and travel grants. First-year students are encouraged to join the program. Informational meetings are held during the first two weeks of each semester. Approximately 20% of the physics and chemistry majors participate in WIM each semester.

As a result of their participation in the Women in Materials program, students gain exceptional experience with instrumentation, which enhances their acceptance rate for admission into highly selective REU programs. (REU denotes the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and offered at a number of research universities around the country.) WIM students have had a remarkable success rate for admission into these programs. For example, over the past four years WIM students have been awarded REU fellowships at Columbia University, University of Washington, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, John Hopkins University, and Cornell University.
Since 1998, Simmons College has had an on-going partnership with the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR). The partnership led to the development of the Women in Materials program (WIM) in 2001, with the aim of enhancing the participation of women in materials science. In this regard, WIM has been extraordinarily successful, largely due to the strong Simmons/CCMR partnership.
Contact Us
Richard Gurney
Assistant Professor, Chemistry

Michael Kaplan
Professor, Chemistry and Physics