About Us

Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) program that makes resources available to enhance the research capabilities of minority-serving institutions through the establishment of centers that effectively integrate education and research.

Who We Are


The CREST Center for Interface Design and Engineered Assembly of Low Dimensional Systems (IDEALS) addresses the national need for "accelerating the pace of discovery and deployment of advanced material systems" as stated in the Materials Genome Initiative. A diverse multidisciplinary team of researchers with complementary interests has come together to design and discover materials with new and enhanced functionalities that culminate from the control of the salient unique properties of surfaces, interfaces and defects in self-assembled nanomaterials; and to further technology, energy and health applications. Scientists and engineers from the City College of New York (CCNY) and their partners at Lehman College, the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, and Virginia Tech employ experimental, analytical and numerical modeling tools to design and discover complex novel materials with new and enhanced functionalities and integrate education and research to enhance these enterprises within IDEALS.

The research activities of IDEALS are organized into three interdisciplinary, synergistic Subprojects entitled: (1) Low-Dimensional Functional Materials and Nano-Heterostructures (2) Bio-inspired Re-Configurable Materials; and (3) Novel Materials Probes and Design Formalism. They are schematically depicted by the three circles in Figure 1.


IDEALS Research Partners:


The research activities of IDEALS rest on an Integrated Research and Education Platform (Figure 2) that supports a range of programs intended to interact with the research process and enhance the student experience to produce a highly skilled, successful and diverse student body at the doctoral level in Science and Engineering.

The overarching goal of IDEALS is to transform the doctoral and postdoctoral student experience in order to engender global and interdisciplinary Materials Science and Engineering leaders of the future, as delineated in the Strategic Plan of the Materials Genome Initiative, whose ranks will benefit fully from our society's diverse population. The Center implements both innovative and proven Integrated Research and Educational Training practices that transform the experience of all graduate students and postdocs enabling them to develop leadership skills, a global perspective, and the skills for success in academic and industrial environments.



IDEALS Outreach and Education Partners:


About The Leadership Team

Team Member

Maria Tamargo

Center Director

Maria Tamargo is a Professor of Chemistry at CCNY and is on the doctoral faculty of Chemistry, Physics and Electrical Engineering. Her research deals with molecular beam epitaxy of low dimensional layered materials and nanostructures of wide band gap semiconductors, topological insulators, and other materials of interest for electronic and photonic applications.

Team Member

Gustavo Lopez

Outreach and Education Programs co-Director

Gustavo Lopez is a Professor of Chemistry at Lehman College and is on the Chemistry doctoral faculty. His research is on the development and application of computational methods aimed at understanding the behavior of condensed matter, including bio- and nano-materials. He also helps to lead the Bronx STEM Scholars Program at Lehman College.

Team Member

Anthony Richardson

Center Administrator

Anthony Richardson assists with all the management and reporting responsibilities of the Center. He is also the Coordinator of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program supported by IDEALS.

Team Member

Lia Krusin-Elbaum

Subproject 1 Director

Lia Krusin-Elbaum is a Professor of Physics at CCNY and is on the doctoral faculty of Physics. Her research deals with the physics of complex nanostructured materials, topological insulators and other novel quantum materials. She is also co-PI and IRG co-director of the Columbia University-CCNY MRSEC on Precision Assembly of Superstratic and Superatomic Systems (PAS3).

Team Member

Ilona Kretzschmar

Subproject 2 Director

Ilona Kretzschmar is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at CCNY's Grove School of Engineering, and is on the doctoral faculty of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Her research is based on the study of nano and microparticles, such as Janus and Patchy particles, their directed self-assembly, and their use in energy and sensing applications.

Team Member

Swapan K. Gayen

Subproject 3 Director

Swapan K. Gayen is a Professor of Physics at CCNY and is on the Physics and Electrical Engineering doctoral faculties. His research is on ultrafast lasers and spectroscopy of nanoscale materials and devices, and its combination with scanning probe techniques, to investigate the physics of novel nanostructures and their applications.