Education and Outreach

Our outreach and educational efforts are aimed at several audiences listed below. The educational outreach is supported by the Institutes of the National Security Education Center (NSEC) at LANL.

The larger scientific community
CASP ensures continuous engagement with the whole science community though recurring symposia at relevant national society meetings (e.g. ACS, MRS, APS, etc.) for not only CASP members, but invited participants from across the solar capture and nanotechnology fields. These symposia would also be accompanied by tutorials to increase the familiarity of a general technical audience with terms and concepts in nano-enhanced solar energy conversion. To further enhance the visibility of the Center, and to promote the stature of CASP as a recognized authority in the field, we also propose to hold an annual conference designed to highlight and expand upon a particular facet of the Center effort, and place it into the context of the research of the larger science community. Combining CASP scientists with noted researchers within the same field, the program will strive to be educational, rather than simply a forum for exchange of recent results. Lectures and poster sessions will be combined with extended opportunities for questions and interaction, to include open round-table discussions by presenters on future directions, and will be especially promoted to students and non-specialists as a concentrated training opportunity. Yearly, the conference would be hosted by a New Mexico university campus, on a rotating basis, with the organizational and financial support of the LANL Institute for Advanced Studies.

The scientists of tomorrow
Scientists have always, necessarily, taken upon themselves the large responsibility of training and preparing the next generation of scientists, so that they will be ready to take the next step. At CASP, this responsibility is felt even more strongly because of the important role we expect solar energy capture to play in the near future. Our first approach will be to enhance Center-wide participation in undergraduate and graduate curriculum at our partner universities. CASP scientists will serve as visiting lecturers for new and relevant existing courses such as: PHGN 544: "Theory and Operation of Photovoltaic Devices" (CSM); CHEM 6411: "Chemistry and Physics of Renewable Energy Technologies"(UCol); ELEC 603: "Topics in Nanophotonics" and ELEC 605: "Computational Electrodynamics and Nanophotonics" (Rice); and NPSE 8001: "Introduction to Nanoparticle Science and Engineering" (UMinn). To encourage intersite involvement of young scientists, we will create competitively-filled "CASP Distinguished Fellowships in Solar Nanotechnology" for graduate students and postdocs, who will propose and carry out research at two or more Center sites. Students will be encouraged to take on thesis co-advisors, when applicable, and postdocs may be granted joint appointments. In addition, NSEC will fund the creation of up to five additional graduate fellowships for students carrying out CASP-supported research at NSEC affiliated university campuses, particularly at University of New Mexico, a recognized minority-serving institution.

Public presence and outreach
CASP will look for and exploit opportunities to reach that part of the public audience that wants to be engaged, that wants to understand the problem and the solutions, but does not know where to begin. With clarity and sincerity, this is where we can make a real difference. The first, most obvious but nonetheless key mode of communication is to create a high quality, highly visible presence on the internet. With a great deal of original source material, a monolithic focus on the Generation-III solar cell concept, and the assistance of highly skilled web designers found at LANL and NREL, creating and updating a web resource for cutting-edge solar science will be more or less a simple pleasure. To increase visibility, each institution will create its own front page residing on its parent site that will link to the main CASP homepage. University recent events pages, science department and research group homepages, and even the networking homepages (e.g. LinkedIn, etc.) of CASP graduate students and postdocs can in turn be linked to the institution front page, resulting in a substantial, low-cost web presence. The website will also serve as a clearinghouse for press releases and public statements on energy research and policy. The final piece of the CASP public presence will be direct interaction with smaller audiences at free public lectures. Although less efficient, directly addressing a committed audience can lead to a depth of communication unavailable to the other, passive media. Nearly all the institutions associated with CASP have programs already in place that can be leveraged, a few of which will be described as examples. At UC-Irvine, CASP scientists will be able, through the "Center for Solar Energy", to arrange both public lectures and small, student-aimed conferences on both general solar energy concepts and their own recent results. Researchers at LANL have a number of outstanding public lecture series in place that CASP members have already been involved with, including the "Frontiers in Science Public Lecture Series" and "Cafe Scientifique." Additional support for lecture series at campuses across New Mexico will also be provided by the LANL Institute for Advanced Studies.