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Our NSEC's collaborating academic institutions form the base of research and development initiatives and execute core educational programs. The NSEC for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures was founded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in partnership with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The latter enhances our effort with their strong modeling expertise, ongoing theory program, and unique computational resources. NSEC's summer research programs for undergraduates and their faculty advisors include our outreach partners, Morehouse, Mt. Holyoke, Oberlin, Smith, Spelman, and Williams colleges, as well as the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Numerous research collaborations also exist with other academic institutions and national laboratories, such as Argonne and Brookhaven.

Our NSEC and its leadership team continually interact with an External Visiting Committee (EVC) comprised of Barbara Baird (Cornell University), Louis Brus (Columbia University), Juan de Pablo (University of Wisconsin), William A. Goddard, III (California Institute of Technology), John Silcox (Cornell University), and Matthew V. Tirrell (University of California at Santa Barbara).