Awesome Con: Nanotechnology Panel Biographies

Moderator, Shelah Morita, PhD (Evolutionary Biologist and Policy Analyst at NNCO)

Shelah is an entomologist with a background in evolutionary biology. Born and raised in California, Shelah earned her PhD at UC Davis researching the potential co-diversification of long-tongued fly pollinators with the South African flora. After living in South Africa for several years, Shelah returned to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum where she has been a Research Collaborator since 2008. Shelah spent the first year of her AAAS fellowship with the USDA Biotechnology Regulatory Services where she worked on regulatory policy for genetically engineered organisms. She is currently a Policy Analyst for the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office which supports the White House National Nanotechnology Initiative. A long time SciFi fan, her overarching interest in science policy concerns risk management and public perceptions of risk for emerging technologies.

Lloyd Whitman, PhD (Assistant Director for Nanotechnology, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)

Lloyd Whitman oversees nanotechnology, advanced materials, and their roles in advanced manufacturing at the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP).  He also advises OSTP on issues related to the development of and use of standards.  Lloyd is on detail to OSTP from his position as Deputy Director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Lloyd received a B.S. in Physics from Brown University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Cornell University.  He spent most of his research career at the Naval Research Laboratory, where he led an award-winning portfolio of research studying semiconductor, organic, and biomolecular nanostructures, their use in novel functional surfaces, and their integration into advanced sensor systems.  Lloyd has over 160 publications and multiple patents in the areas of nanoscience and sensor technology, and has been recognized with numerous media citations and awards.  He is broadly interested in science fiction, particularly media that portray a technologically-inspired future (that hopefully isn’t too dystopian), but gets irritated at things that likely violate all known laws of physics or seem to mislead or misinform the audience about science.

Michael Meador, PhD (Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, NNCO)

Michael Meador directs the efforts of the NNCO in advancing the goals of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in supporting world class nanotechnology R&D, transitioning nanotechnology discoveries from the laboratory to market, education, and outreach.  He is on loan to the NNCO from NASA where, during his 30+ year career, he has been involved in planning and leading programs in materials science and nanotechnology, including serving as the Nanotechnology Project Manager in the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development Program.  Mike earned a B.A. from Ithaca College and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.   He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Clemson University, a member of the department’s External Advisory Board and the University of Akron’s College of Polymer Science and Engineering’s Advancement Council.  He received the NASA Equal Opportunity Employment Medal in 2002 for his efforts to increase participation by students and faculty from minority serving institutions in NASA’s materials R&D programs and the Exceptional Service Medal in 2014 for his pro-active role in NASA’s nanotechnology R&D programs.  Meador has over 70 publications and 8 US patents in high performance materials and nanotechnology.  Mike will discuss how nanotechnology could be used in developing cloaks and other devices to make you difficult to see (invisible) or hear.

Brian Cullum, PhD (Chemistry Professor and Nanotechnologist at UMBC)

Brian Cullum is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where he runs a multi-disciplinary research group focused on optical sensing and chemical imaging for biomedical and defense related applications.  Having published over 100 scientific papers/book chapters and multiple patents, he is a recognized leader in the field of optical nanosensing and plasmonics and has served as a consultant for NATO’s Science for Peace Program, Head of UMBC’s Nano-bioscience Center and was recently elected “Fellow” of SPIE (the International Society for Photonics and Instrumentation Engineering).  He has always been fascinated with science fiction and how it has driven scientific advances through the centuries, with “nanotechnology” being one of the most recent iterations in this essential cycle.  His own research involves developing intracellular nanosensors and nanoprobes capable of monitoring pre-symptomatic exposure to disease agents as well as pushing the limits of visualization to the atomic/molecular scale (i.e., “super vision”) with chemical nano-imaging. He hopes to address nanobots for medical monitoring and healing, or super vision/molecular vision for identifying things.

Merrilea J. Mayo, PhD (Technology Innovator and STEM Advocate at Mayo Enterprises, LLC)

Merrilea Mayo is a classic nerd running her own consulting business in innovation, technology, workforce, and the future of learning.  She was a professor at Penn State involved in the nanotechnology field long before it was a field (i.e., before the national nanotechnology initiative was launched). She gave talks on nanotechnology at that time at science fiction conventions, trying to convince others that the field was not so far off as one might think.  Though her own expertise is in nanoparticles, she will today address nanofibers - specifically in the context of space elevators.  The space elevator concept has been around since at least 1895, has cropped up repeatedly at NASA and DOD-sponsored conferences, and has pervaded science fiction from Arthur C. Clarke to Kim Stanley Robinson.  Merrilea is also an avid online gamer, though most of the games she currently plays involve elves and dwarves, two races that apparently have not yet discovered space elevators

Scott Edelman (Notable Science Fiction and Comic Book Author)

Scott Edelman has published more than 85 short stories in many notable magazines and anthologies. Many of those stories can now be found in his collections What We Still Talk About, What Will Come After, and These Words Are Haunted.  Additionally, he worked for the Syfy Channel for more than thirteen years as editor of Science Fiction Weekly, SCI FI Wire, and Blastr, and was the founding editor of Science Fiction Age, which he edited during its entire eight-year run. He is a five-time finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and a four-time Hugo Award finalist for Best Editor. Early in his writing and editing career, he worked in the Marvel Comics Bullpen, where he scripted the adventures of Captain Marvel, The Scarecrow, and other heroes. He cannot remember a time when he has NOT been a science fiction fan. He has long been fascinated by the uses of nanotechnology in fiction, both his own and others, particularly as it relates to its potential for dealing with medical issues, immortality, enhanced abilities, and the coming age of humanity as a post human species.