Notre Dame launches new fellow training program to enhance graduate student training for developing sustainable technologies

Author: Brandi Wampler


The University of Notre Dame’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) has received an award from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to fund a new fellowship program. The Materials Engineering to Realize Innovative Technologies for Sustainability or MERITS, Fellow Training Program will enhance the training of graduate students interested in developing sustainable technologies and support improved mentoring programs.

“This award enables our department to revamp how we train our graduate students by enhancing our mentorship, support systems, and teaching experiences,” said Jennifer Schaefer, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and lead on the grant. “We are excited for the impact that this award will have, immediately for our graduate students and later when our trainees enter the workforce as researchers and teachers.”

The MERITS Fellow Training Program is supported by 15 CBE faculty and researchers within Notre Dame’s College of Engineering. Together, their objective is to recruit, train, and mentor diverse and talented graduate students from underrepresented populations. Fellows will be supported in such a way that they are encouraged to pursue their chemical and biomolecular engineering doctoral degree in less time than the national average, while also receiving training in both teaching and research.

“We want this program to facilitate the recruitment and retention of a greater number of underrepresented domestic graduate students,” said Schaefer. “Plus, with the central research theme being for sustainable technologies, our fellowship program’s goals align not only with a core strength of the CBE department, but also with the priorities of the College of Engineering and the University.”

The MERITS Fellow Training Program is funded through the ED’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program, which aims to sustain and enhance the capacity for teaching and research within an area of national need. Additionally, the College of Engineering and the Graduate School are providing support for the fellowship program. Awarded fellows of the program will be named in the coming weeks. 


Jennifer Schaefer / Lead Principal Investigator

MERITS Fellowship Training Program / University of Notre Dame / +1.574.631.5114

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The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.