Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS)

North Dakota seeks to advance new discoveries of bio-based, sustainable materials that give more consideration to the environment and contribute to its economy through their sourcing (low cost, renewable), durable lifetimes (long, high durability), and recyclability (efficient, high value). An EPSCoR award from the National Science Foundation includes funding for the Center for Sustainable Materials Science to pursue this research.

The Center for Sustainable Materials Science research team includes researchers from the following North Dakota educational institutions:

In addition to the center’s research on bio-based, sustainable materials, the center will also help to facilitate education, workforce development, and outreach on the importance of sustainable materials.


The Center for Sustainable Materials Science has three major strategic goals:

  1. Develop and launch a transformative approach to the development of sustainable materials derived from agricultural materials as a means to replace petrochemical polymeric materials in day-to-day use.
  2. Build the center into a high functioning interdisciplinary, sustainable research team that includes new faculty hires, acquisition of state of the art analytical equipment and utilization of cyberinfrastructure for the purpose of efficiently processing data, quickly analyzing results, and securely transmitting data between groups.
  3. Facilitate research, education, workforce development, and outreach on the importance of sustainable materials.

The center’s team leads include 1) the team Director Dr. Dean Webster, Professor and Chair in the Coatings and Polymeric Materials department at North Dakota State University and 2) the co-Lead Dr. Mukund Sibi, Distinguished Professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department at North Dakota State University. Dr. Webster leads research in polymer synthesis, coatings, and polymer structure-property relationships and the use of high throughput methods and Dr. Sibi has expertise in catalysis and organic synthesis.

The INSPIRE-ND CSMS Research Team


The Center for Sustainable Materials Science, (CSMS), research team will be involved in activities to support the goals of the North Dakota EPSCoR award’s EMPOWERED-ND initiative, which stands for Emerging Programs for WorkforcDevelopment, Outreach, Education and Diversity-North Dakota, a tightly integrated workforce development, education and outreach and partnership program designed to ensure a continual pipeline of highly qualified individuals to meet the future needs of the North Dakota economy.

Some of the goals identified for this EMPOWERED-ND initiative, that fall under three Project Element areas, that apply to CSMS are shown below.

DiversityCo-Leads: Chad Ulven/NDSU and Scott Hanson/ND EPSCoR

  • Build on the success of our K-12 NATURE programs by including more CSMS-related themes into NATURE University Summer Camp and Sunday Academy programming
  • Help to identify American Indian students interested in pursuing and eventually obtaining PhDs in STEM programs and who are willing to maintain contact with a Tribal College faculty member or administrator
  • Increase the participation level of women faculty in CSMS
  • Increase the number of American Indian and women role models participating in CSMS-related themes during NATURE University Summer Camp and Sunday Academy programming.

Education and Workforce Development Co-Leads: Rachel Navarro and Ryan Summers/UND

  • Increase K 12 student self-efficacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • Increase student interest in STEM.
  • Increase student intentions to pursue a STEM major and increase higher education retention in those fields.
  • Build capacity for interdisciplinary research state-wide and initiate collaboration with partner institutions (Tribal Colleges and Primarily Undergraduate Institutions) and sustain these research collaborations.
  • Engage undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researcher associates and CSMS research faculty in expanding research and provide educational and research opportunities to underrepresented groups and younger learners from other North Dakota institutions.  See the CSMS Outreach page for listings by award year of Outreach carried out by CSMS students and postdoctoral researchers.

Partnership, Collaboration and Communication ObjectivesPCC Co-Leads: Mukund Sibi/NDSU; Tara Kopplin/UNDCommunication Co-Leads: Zoltan Majdik/NDSU; Brad Rundquist/UND

  • Develop partnerships to advance the CSMS science and engineering infrastructure and translational research opportunities; specifically academic and industrial collaborations.
  • Establish and maintain partnerships with DoE and USDA national labs, provide for student internship at DoE and/or USDA labs.
  • Collaborate with North Dakota and regional industry (Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota) to identify and support summer internships.
  • Work on projects with the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS), another center funded by this North Dakota EPSCoR award.
  • Commmunicate on scientific accomplishments and activities to enhance awareness of ongoing CSMS achievements and results (ex: educational webinets, blog posts, and news items.

Research-related experiments

Experiments related to ND EPSCoR funded research have been developed by ND EPSCoR researchers and their graduate students for use by selected fifth and eighth grade rural K-12 teachers. The experiments have been taught to the teachers, and the teachers have been provided with some equipment and materials needed to carry out the experiments in their classrooms. The teaching materials are now being made available for anyone to use.

  • Fifth Grade Experiments booklet  (Download PDF or MS Word
    • Unit Two: Sustainable Materials (CSMS research related)- Helpful Hydrogels- Fermentation in a Bag
  • Eighth Grade Experiments booklet  (Download PDF or MS Word)
    • Unit Two: Sustainable Materials (CSMS research related)- Helpful Hydrogels- Fermentation in a Bag- Shampoo Sequence


Dr. Dean Webster
Lead, Center for Sustainable Materials Science
Professor and Chair
Coatings and Polymeric Materials
North Dakota State University

Dr. Mukund Sibi
Lead, Center for Sustainable Materials Science
University Distinguished Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
North Dakota State University





This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under ND EPSCoR Award #IIA-1355466 and by the State of North Dakota. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the State of North Dakota.