National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Serving Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology

Past REU SEI Projects

2012 SEI REU Projects

A Study of Integrating Societal and Ethical Issues into NNIN REU

Merrill Brady, Politics and Pre-Medical Studies, Bates College

NNIN REU Site: Cornell NanoScale Facility, Cornell University
NNIN REU Principal Investigator: Dr. Katherine McComas, Department of Communications, Cornell University
NNIN REU Mentor: Gina Eosco, Ph.D. Student, Department of Communications, Cornell University

Societal and Ethical Issues (SEI) in nanotechnology has gathered recent attention and importance given its federal focus under the 21st Century Nanotechnology Act (2003). Perceptions of how effective SEI training is, as well as to what extent ethical conceptions perpetrate into undergraduate work and beyond, is of particular interest to better the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). Interviews of both current education coordinators at NNIN REU sites and former REUs from the Cornell NanoScale Facility (CNF) are used to accumulate and compare SEI training practices. The review and interview results of the ethics education is used to formulate a summary report of findings and best practices for NNIN sties to use as a program guide.


Nanotechnology Companies in the U.S.A: A Web-based Analysis of Companies and Poverty Alleviation

Duy Do, Electrical Engineering, San Antonio College

NNIN REU Site: Georgia Institute of Technology
NNIN REU Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan Cozzens, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology
NNIN REU Mentor: Mr. Thomas Woodson, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology

In the United States, many firms are expanding their research and development on nanotechnology products. But what products are being developed and who will benefit from them? This study answers these questions by analyzing the goals, nanotechnology experience, corporate social responsibility and products from information on the companies' websites. Based on patent data from the Center for Nanotechnology and Society-Thematic Research Cluster 1, we got a list of fifty-five firms that are leaders in nanotechnology in water, energy and agri-food. We chose these areas because we think they will have a big impact on the poor and inequality. Out of the fifty-five companies, twenty-seven mention nanotechnology. Moreover thirty-one firms are developing products that will benefit both rich and poor while only seven firms, such as computer and textile industries, focus on rich consumers. In general, agri-food companies do not discuss nanotechnology on their websites. Most of the products produced by these companies are intermediate materials used by other companies; very few companies on the list sell nano-products directly to consumers. Overall, we conclude that nineteen out of fifty-five companies are developing nanotechnology products, like low cost water filters or solar cells that could help the poor and reduce inequality


2011 SEI REU Projects

Researcher Views on the Perceived Influence of Funding Sources in Nanotechnology Research

Rachel Brockhage, Biology and Communication, Grove City College

NNIN REU Site: Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
NNIN REU Principal Investigator: Dr. Katherine McComas, Department of Communication, Cornell University
NNIN REU Mentor: Christopher Clarke, Department of Communication, Cornell University

Abstract: Scholars have increasingly focused on the influence of funding sources on research directions and potential conflicts of interest (COI) that arise in scientific research today. Conflicts of interest occur when an individual has a stake in the outcome of a behavior along with the means to influence the particular outcome. COI may be directly influenced by funding arrangements. Understanding researcher perceptions and identifying opportunities for managing COI that may arise are essential to this inquiry. Building on a study of nanotechnology industry and academic researcher views of funding sources and COI, the present study explores the extent to which graduate students, as the next generation of researchers helping shape the direction of the field, (1) believe funding arrangements influence research directions, and (2) recognize and evaluate COI that arise in their work. The study included the implementation of a web survey of users of the fourteen National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) sites who have recently received their terminal degree.


The Ethical, Legal and Societal Implications of Nanotechnology

Nina Hwang, Chemistry, Rice University

NNIN REU Site: Colorado Nanofabrication Laboratory, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
NNIN REU Principal Investigator: Professor Carl Mitcham, Liberal Arts and International Studies, Colorado School of Mines
NNIN REU Mentor: Professor Lupita Montoya, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engr., University of Colorado Boulder

Abstract: Globally, billions of dollars are being invested nanotechnology, which is expected to contribute to society in significant ways through advances in the fields of medicine, environment, and even world hunger. The study presented in this report compared how the United States, the Netherlands and China are approaching the research and development (R&D) of nanotechnology, as well as the legislation, workplace safety and public education related to nanotechnology. These international comparisons are meant to increase understanding of the ethical, legal and societal implications (ELSI) of nanotechnology in the increasingly globalized society of today.


2010 SEI REU Projects

Public Service Posters for the Societal and Ethical Issues (SEI) of Nanotechnology

Chloe Lake, Communication and Psychology, University at Buffalo

NNIN REU Site: Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
NNIN REU Principal Investigator(s): Professor Katherine McComas, Communication, Cornell University
NNIN REU Mentor(s): Norman Porticella, Communication, Cornell University

Abstract: Due to nanotechnology's current and potential impact on society, the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) recognizes the importance of promoting consideration and awareness of the societal and ethical implications of nanotechnology among its facilities' users. The goal of this project was to develop a series of posters encouraging NNIN laboratory users to consider societal and ethical issues (SEI) in their research, especially with regard to maximizing the benefits and reducing the potential societal risks of their work. Five thematically-integrated posters were finalized and placed in the fourteen NNIN sites across the country.  (Note: Additional information on these posters is available here. They are free and available for distribution)