WHAT'S BIG IN SMALL SCIENCE?
A Quarterly Newsletter of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO)
Welcome to an abbreviated “spring” edition of the NNCO Newsletter. I realize that it is after Memorial Day (but before the summer solstice), and I beg your pardon as it has been a very busy and unusual spring. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by the global pandemic. Many of us have found ways to contribute to the response (please see usa.gov/coronavirus and examples of NNI agency activities below), and I appreciate the inputs that we’ve received from the community highlighting how nanotechnology is being used to prevent, detect, or treat the virus. We will look for ways to share these highlights at the appropriate time. The NNCO has been fortunate to be able to carry on its work within the guidance to keep staff members and others safe. I want to acknowledge and thank the NNCO staff for seamlessly transitioning to telework to continue support of the NNI agencies and the nanotechnology community.
A significant event that occurred this spring was the release of the Congressionally mandated Quadrennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The committee was given a difficult task: to assess the NNI in the global context and to recommend if the initiative should continue, and if so, how. After several open meetings with experts and considerable discussion, the pre-publication version of the report was released on April 7. A public webinar is scheduled for next week, June 9, and will include a review of the key findings and recommendations and an opportunity for the public to ask questions. I encourage you to participate in the webinar, and want to personally thank the committee for providing a thoughtful report. The findings and recommendations will inform discussions of the future directions of the NNI.
Many of you know and share my passion for students. Unfortunately, the Student Leaders Conference we organize every year with TechConnect won’t take place this summer. However, we are working with the students to organize a virtual meeting, and we welcome you and your students to participate. Please see additional details below. Going virtual also gave us the opportunity this spring to share an event hosted at one of the new groups (NanoNU at Northwestern University) with the entire network, which would not have been possible if it had been held as a typical in-person seminar.
The NNCO, although currently remote, continues to be here for the community. I welcome your highlights, thoughts, and ideas as we chart the path forward for the NNI. I miss you all greatly and look forward to seeing you as soon as possible at meetings and events. In the meantime, I will cherish my conversations in the three series of NNI podcasts and hope you do as well, and will “see” you in upcoming virtual meetings all over the world. Please do take care and be well.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NNI
NNI participating agencies are using existing appropriations as well as emergency supplemental funding to support research addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Agencies are funding a variety of research projects as part of this effort, including many that are nanotechnology-related, from materials for masks and air filters to sensors, oxygen generators, antimicrobial coatings, vaccines, vaccine delivery systems, and x-ray imaging to understand the virus and how it spreads.
On April 7, 2020, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released the latest Quadrennial Review of the NNI. This report recommends a framework for a redesign of the NNI and its coordination, with the goal of achieving a U.S. resurgence in nanotechnology. NASEM is organizing a public webinar on June 9, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT to discuss the report. Register at http://nni.eventbrite.com.
Are you currently looking for a job? With the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are foregoing in-person interviews in favor of video interviews. But how do you leave the best possible impression when you are not meeting your interviewer face to face? Check out the latest video in the NextTech student network's professional development series for tips on setting yourself up for success in a video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nytNRKhkTIk.
NANOTECHNOLOGY AND YOU
Stories from the NNI episodes are conversations with experts from the NNI community who share their perspective on advances that have been made and future prospects for nanotechnology. Recent episodes featured Sudipta Seal (University of Central Florida), Nicole Steinmetz (University of California, San Diego), Ahmed Busnaina (Northeastern University), Mike Hochella (Virginia Tech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), Carol Lynn Alpert (Museum of Science in Boston), Greg Lowry (Carnegie Mellon University), and Sharon Walker (Drexel University).
Nano Matters episodes explore specific nanotechnology topics for a broad audience. Recent episodes featured Fabio Pulizzi (Nature Nanotechnology), Hannes Schniepp (William and Mary), Cristina Sabliov (Louisiana State University), Nicole Steinmetz (University of California, San Diego), Mark Banash (Neotericon), and Mike Hochella (Virginia Tech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory).
Nano Entrepreneurship Network episodes highlight best practices, resources, and advice from nanotechnology entrepreneurs and those who support them. Recent episodes featured Landon Mertz (Cerion, LLC) and Jennifer Shieh (U.S. Small Business Administration) (see “Nanotechnology Commercialization” for more details).
September 16–17, 2020: Virtual Workshop