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Florida State University
2013-2014 General Bulletin - Graduate Edition

Research Facilities and Special Programs

Research and Research Facilities

Since its designation as a university in 1947, Florida State University has built a reputation as a strong center for research and creativity in the sciences, the humanities, and in the arts. During fiscal year 2010, Florida State University's faculty generated a record $215 million in funding to supplement state funds used for research. These external funds, derived through contracts and grants from various private foundations, industries, and government agencies, are used to provide stipends for graduate students, to improve research facilities, and to support the research itself.

Many members of Florida State University's faculty are renowned scholars in their fields. In the natural sciences, Florida State University is perhaps best known for its basic research programs in physics, chemistry and biochemistry, biology, psychology, meteorology, and oceanography. Its programs in materials science, high-field magnet research, superconductivity, geology, mathematics, computer science, and statistics also have strong research components, both basic and applied. Since 1982, Florida State has operated a College of Engineering as a joint program with Florida A&M University, an enterprise combining strengths in mechanical, electrical and computer, civil, environmental, chemical and biomedical, and industrial and manufacturing engineering. The Florida State University College of Medicine, founded by statute in 2000, has major research components in the biomedical and clinical sciences, family medicine and rural health, geriatrics, and medical humanities and social sciences.

Special Programs

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), which opened in 1994, is the only user-facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The laboratory develops and provides a variety of research magnets at the highest fields available in the world. The laboratory plays a major role in the international race to enhance scientific disciplines as diverse as biology, chemistry, engineering, geochemistry, materials science, medicine, and physics.

This unique facility supports an extensive in-house research program that advances its scientific and technical capabilities. The in-house research program is built around leading scientists and engineers who concentrate on the study of strongly correlated electron systems, molecular conductors, magnetic materials, magnetic resonance, cryogenics, and new approaches to measuring materials properties in high magnetic fields. Research at the laboratory is opening new frontiers of science at high magnetic fields, which have enormous potential for commercial and industrial applications. The laboratory also has one of the world's foremost magnet and science technology groups, which designs and builds this new generation of magnets. In 1999, the lab brought online a new 45-Tesla hybrid magnet, the most powerful steady-state magnet of its kind in the world. In 2004, the laboratory commissioned the world's first ultra-wide bore 900 MHz NMR magnet for chemical and biomedical research. Another record fell in 2005, when lab engineers completed the 35-T—the world's highest field "resistive" magnet. In 2011, a unique 25-Tesla "split magnet" was completed and put into operation. The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory has many exciting research opportunities for graduate students who wish to pursue research at the edge of parameter space in any area of science utilizing these world-class resources and instrumentations.

Florida State University has made major investments in faculty and infrastructure in the area of materials science and engineering. The High Performance Materials Institute (HPMI), located in the new Materials Research Building, specializes in the synthesis and characterization of composite materials containing carbon nanotubes. These light weight but very strong materials have broad applications in transportation, armor, and energy. Associated with the NHMFL is the Applied Superconductivity Center (ASC). Researchers at the ASC study high temperature superconducting materials which can be used in magnet construction, motors, and energy storage or transmission devices. The above research groups, in conjunction with other faculty in engineering and the NHMFL, participate in the Advanced Materials faculty cluster. A second faculty cluster, Integrative NanoScience, is a collaborative program in materials science involving members of the University's biology, chemistry and biochemistry, engineering, and physics departments. One current focus of this group is the integration of hard and soft materials for future spintronics and biological applications. Other materials efforts of note take place in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics, and Scientific Computing, as well as in units of the College of Engineering.

The Center for Advanced Power Systems is a multidisciplinary research center organized to perform basic and applied research to advance the field of power systems technology. The research focuses on electric power systems modeling and simulation, power electronics and machines, control systems, thermal management, high temperature superconductor characterization, and electrical insulation research. Development of cutting-edge technologies and a technology-savvy workforce in a broad range of aerospace and propulsion disciplines is the focus of the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion (FCAAP). FCAAP is a Center of Excellence led by Florida State University with the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as partners. Florida State University's Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability is a member of the Florida Energy Systems Consortium. This institute has a broad purview including science and technology, public policy, law, and economics.

The Program in Nuclear Research is highly ranked nationally, with emphasis on nuclear structure physics, nuclear astrophysics, radioactive beam studies, studies of nuclear reaction mechanisms using polarized Li beams, accelerator-based atomic physics, electron scattering, hadronic nuclear physics, and relativistic heavy ion reactions. A large part of the program in experimental nuclear physics uses Florida State University's Superconducting Linear Accelerator Facility, which ran its first experiment in 1987. The facility consists of a Super-FN tandem Van de Graaff electrostatic accelerator that injects into a heavy-ion superconducting linear accelerator. The facility utilizes state of the art instrumentation, provides forefront nuclear research capability, and is unique in the southeast.

Florida State University's Coastal and Marine Laboratory is located forty-five miles south of Tallahassee on Apalachee Bay. This research facility gives scientists from all over the nation immediate access to the pollution-free marine environment of the north Florida coast. Facilities include a fleet of research vessels, classrooms, saltwater-equipped laboratories, guest housing, and a dive locker. Faculty at the coastal and marine laboratory are playing a major role in research responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Academic Diving Program, which is part of the laboratory, provides support for and oversight of all scientific and educational compressed-gas diving conducted under the auspices of Florida State University. The Academic Diving Program also teaches or co-teaches courses in scientific diving methods.

The Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), located at the Don Fuqua Research Complex, trains oceanographers, meteorologists, and scientists in related disciplines. Research at COAPS focuses on ocean and atmospheric dynamics and their applications to interdisciplinary studies. In particular, COAPS scientists specialize in the modeling of ocean and atmospheric dynamics, climate prediction on scales of months to decades, air-sea interaction and modeling, and predictions of socio-economic consequences of ocean-atmospheric variations. COAPS hosts the university's component of the Florida Climate Institute, a joint venture with the University of Florida. Studies of storm surges, their impacts on the shoreline, the history of costal storms, shore characteristics, and beach erosion are conducted by the Beaches and Shores Research Center for the urgent preservation of Florida's beaches. The center contracts with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies to furnish scientific underpinnings for the Florida Costal Construction Control Line, and to foster good decision-making regarding costal development, environmental protection, and prudent building practices.

Structural Biology, a collaboration of faculty from the Departments of Biological Science, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Mathematics, Medical Science, and Physics, is the research emphasis of the Institute of Molecular Biophysics. Research conducted by Structural Biology faculty focuses on the three-dimensional structure of biologically important macromolecules and the structural correlates of their functional properties. A variety of state-of-the-art research tools are available in the Institute and allied units including X-ray crystallography, cryoelectron microscopy, mass spectrometry, computer-based molecular modeling, electron paramagnetic resonance, fluorescence, laser and NMR spectroscopies. Graduate students working under Structural Biology faculty can enroll in either the molecular biophysics (MOB) PhD program or in the graduate programs of biological science, biochemistry or physics.

Essential to geologic investigation of Antarctica and global climate change are the analysis and preservation of marine sediments collected on Antarctic research expeditions. The largest collection of southern ocean sediment cores is located at the Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility located at the University. This 40-year old, National Science Foundation-funded facility holds more than ten miles of Antarctic marine sediment cores and is an invaluable resource for scientists both on campus and throughout the world.

All aspects of child behavior and learning are researched in Florida State University's Child Development Programs. The programs provide research sites and laboratory settings in which faculty and graduate students may observe and work with young children.

Research needs in Florida in the area of human services are accommodated by the Institute for Social Work Research. This institute is affiliated with the College of Social Work, but an open-door interdisciplinary approach is encouraged for most of the research funded by external sources.

Computing and information technology are widely used at Florida State University for both research and instruction. The University's Information Technology Services (ITS) manages a high speed network that connects computers throughout the University to each other and to the world. ITS also provides wireless connectivity to the network from most locations on the FSU campus. In addition to the global Internet, Florida State University participates in the Florida LamdaRail and the National LambdaRail project, a special high capacity state and national network for academic and research purposes. The University maintains a shared High Performance Computing (HPC) system. The current setup of 526 compute nodes at FSU HPC system was acquired during three different upgrade cycles. The theoretical peak performance of the complete system is 28.7 TeraFlops.

A number of special Florida State University programs have won national or international distinction in research. These include the following:

The Learning Systems Institute (LSI) is a diverse, multidisciplinary program designed to bridge the gap between research and practice in education and training. Researchers in LSI combine strengths in educational leadership, instructional design, human performance, and grants management to design, and build and implement effective learning strategies for a wide range of clients around the world. Founded in the 1960s to help the South Korean government in its efforts to overhaul the country's school system through technology, LSI has grown to become an international resource for learning. In the 1990s, the institute's pioneering work in distance learning led to it becoming the home for the university's online educational outreach, based in the institute's Academic and Professional Program Services. Housed within LSI is the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, a unit which focuses in STEM education throughout the nation with a focus on special problems in Florida.

The Florida Center for Reading Research, also part of the Learning Systems Institute, was established by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002 as the central source of research and training for Florida's initiatives in improving the reading and literacy levels of K–12 students throughout the state. The center focuses campus-based research strengths in psychology and education on science-based approaches to reading instruction and assessment that is disseminated through the Florida Department of Education.

Florida State University's Autism Institute, housed in the College of Medicine, coordinates and promotes research, education, and service related to the autism spectrum disorders. The institute promotes Interdisciplinary research that advances scientific knowledge and bridges the gap between this knowledge and clinical/educational practice. The Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine and Law is a joint effort of the College of Medicine and the College of Law. The center explores educational, research, and advocacy avenues for collaboration and cooperation between the medical and legal professions on behalf of the well-being of consumers.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art located in Sarasota, Florida, is the designated State Museum of Florida. In 2000, the Legislature shifted administration of the museum to Florida State University in recognition, in part, of the growing trend to maximize the educational value and potential of museums and, in part, to take advantage of the University's commitment to the arts. That potential is especially evident through this association with the Sarasota community due to mutual strengths in the areas of the fine and performing arts and corollary interests, such as the American circus. The Ringling Museum, the home of an internationally renowned art collection, occupies sixty acres of beautiful bay front property including the museum of art, the historic Asolo Theatre (restored in 2006), Ca'd'Zan, the Ringling Mansion, and the Circus Museum, now featuring the Tibbals Learning Center, dedicated to preserving the world's largest and most complete collection of circus art and history. Together with the Florida State University Performing Arts Center, which lies adjacent to the art museum, it holds center stage for Florida State University's Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts, which was created by the Florida Legislature in the year 2000.

Florida State University's Institute of Science and Public Affairs is a multifaceted institute of public service and applied research that helps government and private agencies solve problems ranging from hazardous waste disposal to conflict resolution.

Research centers within the institute are designed to respond to public and private sector needs. Specialists in the fields of biology, chemistry, geography, education, planning, public administration, physics, economics, law, and other areas carry out the University's public service responsibility through programs in education, training, and applied research. The overriding objective is to successfully apply resources, human and technical, to policy problems within the state of Florida.

The institute provides university students the opportunity to work on specific projects in institute centers under the supervision of experienced faculty and staff. These projects provide training for students in problem-solving environments. Government agencies and private sector organizations benefit from this dynamic source of trained and skilled personnel.

Since 1951, students and faculty of Florida State University have benefited from its membership in Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). ORAU is a consortium of more than one hundred PhD granting universities and a management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. ORAU works with its member institutions to help their students and faculty gain access to federal research facilities throughout the country; to keep its members informed about opportunities for fellowship, scholarship, and research appointments; and to organize research alliances among its members. Through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the DOE facility that ORAU manages, undergraduates, graduates, postgraduates, and faculty enjoy access to a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Students can participate in programs covering a wide variety of disciplines, including business, earth sciences, epidemiology, engineering, physics, pharmacology, ocean sciences, biomedical sciences, nuclear chemistry, and mathematics. Appointment and program length range from one month to four years. Many of these programs are especially designed to increase the numbers of underrepresented minority students pursuing degrees in science- and engineering-related disciplines.

In addition to membership in ORAU, Florida State University is one of the eight core university partners with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The other partner universities include Duke University, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, and Virginia Tech. Partnership with ORNL facilitates research collaborations and affords access to unique capabilities in neutron scattering, high performance computing, and materials science.