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The Materials Today Agents of Change Awards

The Materials Today Agents of Change (MTAOC) awards program provides two grants of up to $10,000 bi-annually to initiatives and programs that foster a more inclusive and diverse research environment in the materials science community.

Jointly funded by the Materials Today Family of journals and the Elsevier Foundation, the awards demonstrate Materials Today’s long-term commitment to creating a more equitable workplace for materials scientists. We believe that a robust and diverse research community serves as a solid foundation for scientific advances in the field.

Nominations for the 2025 Materials Today Agents of Change awards will open in late 2024.

Meet the 2023 MTAOC winners

Charlotte Berrezueta | Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Project: The Nano-Science Summer School@Yachay (NSSY)

The picture includes the international edition of the Nanoscience Summer Scholl @Yachay 2023 participants.

This award will support undergraduate and graduate students from Latin America and Ecuadorian Universities to participate in the fifth edition of the Nano-Science Summer School@Yachay (NSSY24). The event, which will feature talks by world-class scientists, will be held on the Galapagos Islands for the third year running: a deliberate choice due to the location’s historical significance in the advancement of modern science. The hope is to continue expanding the school and establish its reputation as a prominent annual gathering for a diverse range of students.

With your sponsorship, we will be able to enhance the conference experience by offering valuable resources, facilitating networking opportunities, and fostering an environment conducive to collaborative research and dialogue. Your support directly contributes to the advancement of knowledge and the growth of our community.

- Charlotte Berrezueta

Dr Vishal Chaudhary | University of Delhi, India

Project: The Happy Mental Health Club

The picture includes Dr. Vishal Chaudhary, front forth from right, during one of the Happy Mental Health workshops this year at Bhagini Nivedita College, University of Delhi, India.

In many social settings, mental health is still considered a taboo topic. For example, according to Dr Chaudhary, in the scientific community, researchers are often expected to maintain a stoic demeanour. To combat this, he started the Happy Mental Health Club in October 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. The club showcases the diverse talents of materials science students and addresses mental health stigma through online sessions and international conferences. There is a particular emphasis on supporting underrepresented groups and breaking down social barriers to gender and LGBTQIA++ equality in research. The MTAOC award supports the running of the Happy Mental Health Club, along with awareness programs.

Meet the 2019 MTAOC winners

Lanell Williams | Harvard University

Project: The Women+ of Color Project (WOCP)

The Women+ of Color Project (WOCP) was born out of the need to see more Black, Native/Indigenous, Latina/x women+ in academia especially in STEM fields like Math, Physics, Materials Science, Planetary Science, or any other physical science disciplines. WOCP provides an online classroom focused solely on how to apply to graduate school and what admissions committees are looking for, providing resources to women+ of color who may not have access to this information.

Prof. Dr Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser, Prof. Alke Fink and Dr Sofía Martín Caba | Université de Fribourg, Switzerland

Project: Professional role confidence of female scientists

The three awardees have observed throughout their career that female researchers often face a major hurdle when it comes to making the first step onto the academic ladder and rising further up in the hierarchy later on – a lack of professional role confidence. The Professional role confidence of female scientists initiative was established to develop a series of events to overcome this impediment to success, with the vision to help implement a true culture of gender equality and to achieve a real gender balance among the next generation of materials scientists.