Foundation Donates $1 Million to UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering

Gift establishes research institute for sustainable development of materials

June 24, 2020 - The Lincoln Dynamic Foundation, created by University of California, Irvine alumnus John D. Lincoln, has made a $1 million gift to the university’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering to establish the World Institute for Sustainable Development of Materials.

The new institute will advance interdisciplinary research, education and knowledge translation in an effort to innovate, evaluate and adopt technologies that utilize safer, nontoxic chemicals and materials, with the goal of mitigating environmental impacts.

It will be led by Julie Schoenung, chair and professor of materials science and engineering, and Oladele Ogunseitan, UC Presidential Chair and professor of public health.

“So much of the research in the field of materials science and engineering seeks to address sustainability-related issues, but what is often not recognized is that these technologies require the use of materials and manufacturing processes that might not be sustainable themselves,” said Lincoln, who earned a master’s degree in engineering in 2004 and a doctorate in materials science & engineering in 2007, both at UCI.

“There is a need to value materials technologies beyond the benefits they deliver in use,” he added. “Scientists and engineers have the tools to make better environmental decisions about materials before they’re put into use, including characterization of benefits, impacts and environmental sensitivities present at all points in their life cycles. This institute is about putting that into practice.”

Lincoln, president of composite materials manufacturer Axiom Materials, said he hopes that the World Institute for Sustainable Development of Materials will place UCI at the forefront of discovery in the complex interface of green chemistry, materials selection and design, life cycle assessment, toxicology, alternatives assessment and public policy.

WISDOM’s potential research areas include the development of materials for advanced energy, transportation and other industrial processes that can mitigate environmental damages; and materials for geoengineering applications, such as solar reflection and greenhouse gas removal.

Schoenung and Ogunseitan, who have worked together for nearly two decades on related research, praised Lincoln for his generous gift and foresight.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to work with Johnny, one of our highly successful and visionary materials science & engineering alumni, in this effort to leverage UCI’s leadership in providing data-driven guidance to push the frontiers of sustainable development of materials,” Schoenung said. “Dr. Lincoln’s commitment to a better world is refreshing and inspiring, especially during these challenging social and economic times.”

She noted that the world needs better strategies to protect both workers and the public from toxic substances used in manufacturing and in products. Waste streams throughout the life cycle of a product need to be reduced, not just mitigated, Schoenung said, and critical materials need to be recycled and recovered – particularly those that promote overall sustainability.

“WISDOM will transform the paradigm guiding materials selection and design and will enable future generations of students to think creatively about the sustainable development of materials,” she said.

Ogunseitan said that manufacturers have not focused adequate attention on the types of materials used to make consumer products and that this has led to major pollution and toxicity issues for the worldwide environment and human health.

“Global warming, hazardous electronic waste, plastics in the ocean and accumulation of waste ... are all examples of materials problems that transcend national boundaries and warrant urgent interdisciplinary research solutions and creative education initiatives,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder to be a founding partner of WISDOM – a very welcome addition to UCI’s portfolio of distinguished, transformative research initiatives.”

The Lincoln Dynamic Foundation, established in 2017, supports programs that focus on children and families, social inequalities, the environment and sustainability, and community enhancement.

- Brian Bell

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