header image


A molecular perspective is becoming increasingly profitable and productive in programming triggered responses in biological and materials systems, but undergraduate training and exposure to the underlying chemistry currently lags that at the graduate and industrial level. The Duke University Department of Chemistry is pleased to offer the NSF REU Site: Chemistry and Applications of Smart Molecules and Materials (CASMM). CASMM is devoted to promoting understanding and technical skill development in the principles of chemical research, with a molecule-to-material emphasis in the contemporary, interdisciplinary area of “smart molecules and materials”, which here comprises molecules and primarily “soft” materials that respond to external stimuli and/or organize spontaneously from molecular building blocks. Participants will find interdisciplinary projects that subsume not only the traditional sub-disciplines of chemistry, but also biology and engineering. The program is an 11-week, residential research experience for undergraduates who are majoring in chemistry or a chemistry-related discipline.

Felice Frankel at CASMM, 2011

CASMM is based on a four-tiered strategy geared toward promoting undergraduate research and helping to develop a well-trained, motivated, and diverse population of future leaders in chemistry and related disciplines. The CASMM philosophy is:

  • Enlist the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in the program. CASMM has established working partnerships with leading regional schools to promote the recruitment of female and underrepresented minority students into the program.
  • Engage the students in the research process through active mentoring. At CASMM, engagement includes not only cutting-edge research projects for program participants, but also participation in seminars and workshops designed to promote ownership and independence in the scientific process.
  • Instruct participants not only in the technical fundamentals of their field of interest, but also in information technologies and communication skills that are critical for successful graduate and professional careers.
  • Inspire participants to continue in the sciences through interactions with leaders in the field, demonstrating examples of the power of chemistry to shape society for the better, and activities that help to develop leadership skills.

At the core of CASMM, however, remains an unwavering commitment to providing an intensive, bona fide research experience with acclaimed scientists in cutting-edge areas of smart materials research within the chemical sciences.

The REU program is led by Stephen Craig and Kathy Franz, members of the Duke Department of Chemistry and long-time advocates of undergraduate research experiences. If you have questions that are not answered on this site, please contact them directly or by sending an email to casmm-reu at duke dot edu.