Tag Archives: Howard University

Investigating nanoparticles and their environmental impact for industry?

It seems the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT) at Duke University (North Carolina, US) is making an adjustment to its focus and opening the door to industry, as well as, government research. It has for some years (my first post about the CEINT at Duke University is an Aug. 15, 2011 post about its mesocosms) been focused on examining the impact of nanoparticles (also called nanomaterials) on plant life and aquatic systems. This Jan. 9, 2017 US National Science Foundation (NSF) news release (h/t Jan. 9, 2017 Nanotechnology Now news item) provides a general description of the work,

We can’t see them, but nanomaterials, both natural and manmade, are literally everywhere, from our personal care products to our building materials–we’re even eating and drinking them.

At the NSF-funded Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), headquartered at Duke University, scientists and engineers are researching how some of these nanoscale materials affect living things. One of CEINT’s main goals is to develop tools that can help assess possible risks to human health and the environment. A key aspect of this research happens in mesocosms, which are outdoor experiments that simulate the natural environment – in this case, wetlands. These simulated wetlands in Duke Forest serve as a testbed for exploring how nanomaterials move through an ecosystem and impact living things.

CEINT is a collaborative effort bringing together researchers from Duke, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Virginia Tech, University of Kentucky, Stanford University, and Baylor University. CEINT academic collaborations include on-going activities coordinated with faculty at Clemson, North Carolina State and North Carolina Central universities, with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Environmental Protection Agency labs, and with key international partners.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1266252, Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology.

The mention of industry is in this video by O’Brien and Kellan, which describes CEINT’s latest work ,

Somewhat similar in approach although without a direction reference to industry, Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is being used as a test site for silver nanoparticles. Here’s more from the Distilling Science at the Experimental Lakes Area: Nanosilver project page,

Water researchers are interested in nanotechnology, and one of its most commonplace applications: nanosilver. Today these tiny particles with anti-microbial properties are being used in a wide range of consumer products. The problem with nanoparticles is that we don’t fully understand what happens when they are released into the environment.

The research at the IISD-ELA [International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area] will look at the impacts of nanosilver on ecosystems. What happens when it gets into the food chain? And how does it affect plants and animals?

Here’s a video describing the Nanosilver project at the ELA,

You may have noticed a certain tone to the video and it is due to some political shenanigans, which are described in this Aug. 8, 2016 article by Bartley Kives for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) online news.

New interdisciplinary programmes on nanotechnology environmental impacts and policy; new NSF graduate environmental studies funding category: nanotechnology

Coincidentally or not I’ve come across two items today about environmental studies and nanotechnology. The first concerns a new interdisciplinary programme in the environmental effects and policy implications of nanotechnology being offered jointly by Carnegie Mellon University and Howard University. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Howard University in Washington, D.C. have received $3.15 million over the next five years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch a new interdisciplinary program in the environmental effects and policy implications of nanotechnology.

Funding comes from a new NSF program called the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), which enables creation of interdisciplinary programs educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers.

“The IGERT program at Carnegie Mellon and Howard will operate at the interface of science and environmental policy to produce an environmentally and policy literate generation of nanoscience professionals with the skills needed to create novel nanotechnologies and to assess and manage environmental risks associated with nanomaterials,” said Jeanne M. VanBriesen, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon who will lead the program.

Graduate students from multiple disciplines will participate in a two-year-training program to learn the fundamentals of their core disciplines and gain proficiency in the analysis of environmental issues pertaining to nanotechnology, decision science, and policy-analysis in new nanotechnology-themed courses. Following this foundation, students will conduct research at the interface of policy and nanotechnology. Students also will participate in international laboratory exchange projects as well as internships at corporations active in nanotechnology.

I guess this is a consequence of the recent National Nanotechnology Initiative budget which dedicated more money to environmental research. In another development, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering fellowships for students pursuing graduate environmental study including those who want to focus on nanotechnology. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), invites applications for the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships for graduate environmental study for master’s and doctoral level students.

The deadline is November 5, 2010 at 4:00 PM for receipt of paper applications, and November 5, 2010 at 11:59:59 PM ET for submittal of electronic applications via Grants.gov.

This solicitation contains several important changes from the previous solicitation. First, Social Sciences and Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communitieshave been added as topic areas in response to the EPA Administrator’s priorities. Secondly, Nanotechnology has been added in response to the Assistant Administrator’s articulated vision for the Office of Research and Development.

The relevant Funding Opportunity Numbers (FON) for the nanotechnology topic is EPA-F2011-STAR-C1.

You can get more information directly from the EPA here.