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Maude Cuchiara

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Research Associate Professor

Managing Director, STEPS

College of Engineering

3126 Plant Sciences Building


Maude Cuchiara is the managing director of STEPS and a Research Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State. She also currently serves as an Advisor to the  Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN), a site in the NSF-funded National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI). In her previous role, Associate Director of the RTNN, she facilitated client and user interactions with RTNN as well as communicated RTNN news, information, and events to relevant stakeholders. She continues to engage with RTNN by participating in the planning and implementation of workshops, conferences, and outreach activities. Through coordination of expertise at the three RTNN institutions – NC State, UNC, and Duke – she successfully secured both collaborative REU and RET site awards that leveraged RTNN faculty strengths and technical resources. Maude actively collaborated with peer NNCI sites through participation and leadership in several working groups including Education and Outreach, Workforce Development, Evaluation, and Online Technical Content (chair). She also participates in NIFA/USDA supported research aimed at understanding stakeholder perceptions on the use of nanotechnology and other emerging technologies in food and agriculture.

Maude earned undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Spanish Language and Literature from NC State. At NC State, Maude was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, a dual-degree program that aims to train engineers who can approach technical problems while also considering ethical and social perspectives. Maude then pursued her graduate degree in Bioengineering at Rice University. Her dissertation work focused on the development of novel biomaterials for the expansion of hematopoietic (blood) stem cells. During graduate school, she interned at the National Science Foundation in the Biomedical Engineering program housed in CBET (Engineering Directorate), where she helped NSF-funded researchers communicate their work to the public and researched best practices to support multidisciplinary projects. As a graduate scholar in the Science and Technology Policy Program at the Baker Institute for Public Policy (housed at Rice), she studied stem cell policy and regulation publishing several articles and policy briefs. After graduating, Maude served as a research scientist in the West Lab for Biofunctional Materials at Rice University and later Duke University while continuing her work with the Baker Institute as a non-resident scholar.

Through these experiences, Maude has gained great appreciation for the diverse talents and approaches required to tackle the world’s wicked problems. She brings a unique skillset to STEPS and will use her expertise to support STEPS goals and realize the 25-in-25 vision.


Ph.D. Bioengineering Rice University

B.S. Biomedical Engineering NC State

B.A. Spanish Language and Literature NC State


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Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/26
Amount: $15,147,874.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center is a convergence research hub for addressing the fundamental challenges associated with phosphorus sustainability. The vision of STEPS is to develop new scientific and technological solutions to regulating, recovering and reusing phosphorus that can readily be adopted by society through fundamental research conducted by a broad, highly interdisciplinary team. Key outcomes include new atomic-level knowledge of phosphorus interactions with engineered and natural materials, new understanding of phosphorus mobility at industrial, farm, and landscape scales, and prioritization of best management practices and strategies drawn from diverse stakeholder perspectives. Ultimately, STEPS will provide new scientific understanding, enabling new technologies, and transformative improvements in phosphorus sustainability.

Date: 04/01/18 - 3/31/21
Amount: $23,188.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The REU Convocation brings 60 undergraduates together for a meeting after completion of their REU experiences at different NNCI (National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure) sites. The event is held annually but rotates between different NNCI sites. This year??????????????????s event will be hosted by the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN) and held primarily at NC State in Talley Student Union. The event will last for two and a half days during the summer of 2018. The main goal of the convocation is to support scientific networking, provide professional development opportunities, and encourage the pursuit of STEM graduate degrees and careers. Each REU student will have the opportunity to present their REU research in oral and poster sessions at the three RTNN institutions (NC State, Duke, and UNC-CH). There will also be sessions on applying to graduate school, graduate fellowships, professional social media, science writing, in addition to others. Faculty and staff from STEM departments and the Graduate Schools at all three RTNN institutions will attend to discuss graduate programs in more detail. Students will also participate in social activities to network with their undergraduate colleagues.

Date: 02/01/17 - 1/31/20
Amount: $375,000.00
Funding Agencies: RTI International (aka Research Triangle Institute)

The vision of the GRIP project is to advance new game-changing, interdisciplinary research at the intersection of nanotechnology and water sustainability, positioning NC State, RTI, and partnering institutions as the preeminent team in this area and to be highly competitive in center-level opportunities. More specifically, the GRIP goals include: (1) Fundamental research: Nucleate new fundamental research activities (experimental and computational) at the intersection of water and nanotechnology; (2) Applied research: Develop 2-3 advanced sustainable water treatment materials and technologies that can be used as proof-of-concept for future proposals; (3) Societal impact: Determine quantifiable future impact of new nanotechnologies on society (economic, environment) in order to support future investment by external sponsors; (4) Teamwork: Develop a strong collaboration across sectors, the preliminary results needed to compete for large center-level proposals.

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