Two University of Minnesota departments within the College of Science and Engineering received $17 million last week for research and development.
The Dow Chemical Company donated money to 11 schools. The University will use the gift for its Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.
The donations are part of the company’s efforts to strengthen national research.
Dow will distribute $250 million over the next 10 years to the chosen institutions, which include five other Big Ten schools, including the University of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois.
“We are very excited about it. We will be able to seek research of mutual interest to the Dow Chemical Company and the University,” said William Tolman, chair of the chemistry department.
Tolman said the department will use the grant money for a variety of research including working with new types of polymer plastic materials, which is of great interest at both of the departments. Polymer is the term used for long chains of individual molecules that make up plastic. Polymer plastic can include wood, starch and other natural molecules.
But the money won’t be the only benefit to the University, said Frank Bates, head of the CEMS department.
Bates said in addition to the investment Dow will partner with the school’s graduate students and researchers, giving them a chance to work directly with Dow scientists for the next five years. “[It’s] not just the money, it’s the partnership,” he said.
Based on the departments’ faculty proposals, $12 million will be invested in research support for graduate researchers and $5 million will go to expanding Amundson Hall which houses CEMS.
The funding will come over the course of five years which “is long enough to educate a Ph.D. student for his entire stay,” said Bates.
Bates said Dow’s investment signals a change in the way companies invest in research and work with universities.
“I think this is good for the University of Minnesota and for society,” he said.