National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Serving Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology

Undergraduate SEI Research

As part of our integration of Society and Ethics into the NNIN program, we include a few SEI related projects in our Research Experience for Undergraduates program each year.  This not only serves generates new SEI research results and trains social science students in SEI  but also effectively socializes the importantce of Social and Ethical Issues into the larger group of REU students via peer interaction.

Projects for the upcoming summer will be posted here in November in time to respond to the REU application deadline. Social science students with an interest in the interation of science, technology and society may wish to consider applying to the NNIN REU program.

NNIN SEI REU Projects for Summer 2013


Project Title: “Talking Nano”: Nanoscientists as Public Communicators

Profs. Anthony Dudo and LeeAnn Kahlor. UT-Austin

Project Objective and Summary:  Nanotechnology is the most recent example in a long line of emerging technologies that will produce, and has already produced, applications with tremendous ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSIs). Although research on ELSIs related to nanotechnology is providing an increasingly cogent picture of how this technology is evolving in the public sphere, we do not yet have a clear picture about the community of experts who work at the nano scale (i.e., “nanoscientists”), particularly their role as public communicators. The primary objective of this REU experience, therefore, will be centered on exploring the communication of nanotechnology.

Primary Goals: This project will require the REU student to assist with the following specific goals stemming from NNIN-funded research being conducted in 2012/2013 by Profs. Anthony Dudo and LeeAnn Kahlor (UT-Austin): (1) conducting a literature review and producing an annotated bibliography relative to the communication of nanoscience, (2) analyzing survey data via multivariate analysis, and (3) writing a research manuscript for submission to a professional communication conference and peer-referred journal. In addition to being presented with an opportunity to help produce publishable communication research, the REU student will also be given an opportunity to learn about the field of science communication research from the project PIs and a senior graduate student who will also be affiliated with the project. The REU student’s experience will culminate with a presentation of their research to faculty and graduate students.


Project Title: Knowledge Transfer Practices at NNIN Sites

Prof. Jeongsik “Jay” Lee, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

Project Objective and Summary: The knowledge management literature emphasizes the role of formal and informal contacts in facilitating knowledge transfer between economic agents. The NNIN-mediated knowledge transfer between nanotechnology researchers is one of the important goals of the NNIN. However, we have yet to document systematically how knowledge transfer practically occurs between NNIN users and researchers at participating universities. Given the critical role of personal contacts in transferring knowledge and skills and the NNIN’s committed emphasis on knowledge dissemination through NNIN activities, this is a missed opportunity. The project seeks to fill this gap by carefully examining the practices of knowledge transfer at NNIN sites.

Project Goal(s): Specifically, this project will accomplish the following: (a) research, through observations and interviews, the processes of knowledge transfer between NNIN users and NNIN scientists in an NNIN site; (b) develop surveys and conduct pilot tests to quantify the effects of the identified practices of knowledge transfer on NNIN users; and (c) produce a research report that documents the detailed practices of technology transfer at NNIN.

Facilities and Equipment Required:   The student needs a laptop.

Responsibilities of the Student: The student will work with the mentor and faculty PI to accomplish the goals and will ensure that the developed survey tools are reliable and relevant to NNIN users by pilot testing them on a sample group and that the identified knowledge transfer practices are generalizable to all NNIN sites and other knowledge-intensive settings.


Note, if you wish to be considered for these projects, you MUST apply through the NNIN REU Application. Please note your interest in the application.


Past SEI projects are linked from the left menu.