Modern Materials Technologies

What we do

We create, host, and organize a weekly colloquium at Lindblom Math and Science Academy for high school students, working in close collaboration with a local physics teacher. Our focus is materials in modern technologies. Past topics have included:

  • light, optics and the science of color and lighting technologies
  • magnetism and superconductivity
  • energy storing and harvesting technologies

Who we are

We are group of graduate students and postdocs from various fields in STEM who are passionate about science pedagogy. Currently, we come from the PSD and PME, but are always looking for members from diverse backgrounds. All disciplines in STEM (e.g., PSD, BSD, PME) are welcome.

Our Mission

Our goals for participating in the Modern Materials Technologies (MMT) colloquium are:

  • promoting of scientific literacy in the local community
  • fostering local students' confidence in their abilities in STEM
  • providing pedagogy experience for instructors
  • promoting deeper connections between MRSEC and Lindblom
  • increasing number of students whose post-graduation plans are in STEM fields
  • improving public perception, literacy, and accessibility of science

Interested in learning more or joining? Contact ucmmt1819 at or see the FAQ below!

Student-made figures with 3D printing pens.
Exploring atomic spectra with gas-discharge lamps
  • I don't have any background knowledge in the topics listed. Can I still join?

Of course! Our only constraint on course topics is that it remain related to materials and technologies. We encourage members to draw upon their own STEM backgrounds and research when thinking about how they want to teach. All backgrounds in STEM are welcome.

  • What is the typical format of a colloquium?

We follow the academic calendar of Lindblom, which is semester based. In past years, we typically held colloquium on Wednesday morning. The colloquium is 2 hours, and is typically split 50/50 between lecture content and activity-based/demo-based content. Each colloquium is lead by a lead instructor, who organizes the materials and lecture for that particular week; 2-3 other members join the day of the colloquium to help with in-class activities. We generally hold around 20 colloquia in a school year, divided among 3-4 units.

  • What are the classes like?

Classes have ranged between 10-18 people and included all grade-levels. Many students come in indicating a strong interest in science and/or math.

  • How much of a time commitment is MMT?

The typical time commitment as a general lecturer is around 3-4 hrs; in the past, this has generally been 9:30-13:00 on Wednesdays, including time for travel, set up, and take down.

As a lead lecturer, the time commitment can vary as the lecturer has the flexibility to create his/her own content. We also have past course content that the lead lecturer can draw upon or use, in which case 2-3 hrs of preparation are typical.

  • How do we get to Lindblom?

We meet in a central location on the U. Chicago campus and carpool!

  • Where do the demo materials come from?

We procure demo materials from a variety of places, including the demo closet through the Department of Physics, in collaboration with other outreach programs in the MRSEC, and in collaboration with our local physics teacher contact. We have also purchased demonstration material through the support of the MRSEC. 

  • How old is MMT?

MMT was founded by James Callahan and other members of the Berkelbach group in the Department of Chemistry (now at Columbia University) in 2018.

  • How will COVID impact MMT?

We plan to follow the guidelines and scheduling of the Chicago Public School system, with the consideration that the course may need to be adapted to distance learning.

Ram Itani (Tokmakoff group, Department of Chemistry)

Christopher Melnychuk (PGS, Department of Chemistry)

Wennie Wang (Galli group, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering)

Elizabeth Bain (Engel group, Department of Chemistry)

James Callahan (Berkelbach group, Department of Chemistry), founder

Jonathan Fetherolf (Berkelbach group, Department of Chemistry)

Jeffrey Gustaffson (MRSEC Outreach)

Talha Khawaja (Master's candidate, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics)

Malte Lange (Berkelbach group, Department of Chemistry)

Chloe Lindeman (Nagel group, Department of Physics)

Alex Mazursky (Lopes group, Department of Computer Science)