Established in 1974, the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences conducts research ranging from the search for water on Mars, exploration of outer planets, to the study of energetic X-ray and gamma-rays emanating from quasars and supermassive black holes, gravitational waves and of dark matter in the Universe. the Center has grown into a consortium of more than one hundred members, with about 42 faculty and research scientists, 14 post-doctoral fellows and research scholars, 29 graduate students and 21 staff members from the departments of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering. It stimulates scientists to work on fundamental problems in Space Sciences and Astro-Particle Physics, transcending borders between disciplines. The "Mac Center," as it is called, fosters this type of endeavor through the sponsorship of cooperative research and through formal activities such as the Visiting Scientist Program. Over the last three decades the members of the Center have published more than 2000 papers in the fields as diverse as Astrobiology, Lunar and Planetary Exploration on one hand, and Nuclear Matter, Neutrino Physics, Gravitation & Cosmology on the other.
The center for quantum sensors at Washington University in Saint Louis brings together scientists working on the development and engineering of quantum technologies and materials, and scientists using quantum technologies for cutting-edge research in physics and related disciplines. The center leverages the members’ experience with the fabrication of quantum sensors and the deployment of the sensors in extreme environments, e.g. on balloons, satellites, in remote geographical areas, and in underground laboratories. In cooperation with the Physics Department and the McDonnell Center for the space sciences, the center organizes a seminar, regular symposiums, and a program for center-funded post-doctoral scholars, and offers research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
The Institute of Materials Science and Engineering officially opened on July 1, 2013 to be a central hub for the materials research at Washington University. The IMSE is a PhD granting institute that sits primarily in the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Engineering and Applied Science. It maintains a world-class sample preparation and characterization equipment center that is located in the basement of Rudolph Hall. IMSE membership consists of over 30 faculty, and many graduate and undergraduate students, from ten participating departments, two in the School of Medicine.