New Phosphorus Sustainability Center Engages NNCI Scientists

NSF recently announced the 2021 class of Science and Technology Centers. This cohort includes six new Centers focused on a range of topics from optoelectronics to ice exploration. One of these Centers is led by RTNN Director Jacob Jones. With collaborators at RTNN, SENIC, and NCI-SW, Jones established the Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center which aims to reduce phosphorus dependence and its downstream effects on the environment. The origin of STEPS can be traced back to a 2016 Nanotechnology Signature Initiative and a series of RTNN-supported events that seeded several collaborative projects including a GRIP Award focused on using nanotechnology for water sustainability. Find out more about STEPS on the Center website and NC State press release.

RTNN Kickstarter Program Eligibility Expanded

A CHANL user loads a sample on the FTIR

Several recent reports describe how the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected and continues to affect academic research particularly for specific groups (e.g., women, international students, early career scientists). In response to this crisis, the RTNN is expanding eligibility in its Kickstarter program to include researchers that have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To submit proposals under the expanded criteria, complete and submit a Kickstarter application by the priority deadline: July 1, 2021. Proposals received after this date will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Questions about the program or eligibility requirements can be directed to rtnanonetwork@ncsu.edu.

Maude Cuchiara Wins Outstanding Extension and Engagement Award

Maude Cuchiara assists a child with microscopy at the Museum of Life and Science

The RTNN congratulates Associate Director Maude Cuchiara for earning one of NC State’s Outstanding Extension and Engagement Awards. The award recognizes Maude’s extensive contributions to RTNN’s outreach mission over the past five years. During this time, she worked with RTNN colleagues to develop RTNN’s Coursera course, start the RTNN Student Ambassadors program, pilot outreach to libraries and museums in rural North Carolina, launch Take-out Science during the COVID-19 pandemic, and secure RET and REU site awards. Through these efforts, the RTNN has made a substantial impact on thousands of program participants around the world.

Ekaterina Bogomoletc’s Work in Communicating Science Garners Accolades

Ekaterina Bogomoletc picture

Ekaterina Bogomoletc was recently honored with two awards for her work in communicating science. She is currently a graduate student in the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media at NC State and, under the direction of RTNN co-PI Prof. David Berube, conducts research in the Social and Ethical Implications of Nanotechnology for the RTNN.

Ekaterina won the University of Miami School of Communication Top Student Paper Award at the 2021 International Public Relations Research Conference. Ekaterina’s winning project explored publics’ reactions to brands’ COVID-19 responses. More specifically, Ekaterina examined how YouTube users perceived attempts of several global brands to normalize the new, post-COVID, reality:

“The study demonstrated that when it comes to brands’ COVID-19 responses, publics seemed to be concerned with the political side of the brands’ communication. For companies, this might mean that publics are open to negotiating brands’ place in the new, post-COVID19, reality without viewing their actions as opportunistic. At the same time, the campaigns were accused of promoting a certain political agenda, i.e., they were perceived as brand activism. The perception of organizations’ COVID-19 communication as brand activism brings extra expectations in terms of authenticity of companies’ efforts.”

Ekaterina was also awarded a seed grant from the Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development in Public Relations at San Diego State University. The grant is awarded to PhD candidates and pre-tenured faculty for research projects in the area of public relations.

Ekaterina won the award in collaboration with Dr. Nicole Lee, an assistant professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University. They proposed a project that will examine possible factors behind publics’ trust towards scientific information as well as factors affecting publics’ willingness to share scientific information online. More specifically, they will test whether various communication strategies affect publics’ perception of take-at-home COVID-19 tests.

Congrats to our 2020 Award winners!

Anna Fraser presents her work at Science in the Stacks.

A hearty round of applause for our 2020 Award Winners. We continue to be impressed by the terrific work of our awardees. These individuals were celebrated at the annual RTNN Awards and Appreciation Dinner last month, which was held virtually.

2020 RTNN Student Awards

The RTNN Student Outreach award recognizes a student for exemplary leadership, initiative, and ongoing commitment to the mission of expanding access to RTNN nanotechnology user facilities.

Headshot, Jessica Chestnut

Jessica Chestnut (NC State) – Jessica graduated from NC State University in May 2020 with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. She is now pursuing a PhD in Chemistry in Dr. Paul Maggard’s group at NC State. She volunteered with RTNN over the past year in numerous capacities including RTNN’s first two visits to more remote parts of North Carolina near Hickory and Asheville.


Headshot of Beatriz Medrano

Beatriz Medrano (Duke) – Beatriz is an undergraduate student at Duke majoring in electrical and computer engineering and computer science. Beatriz began volunteering at SMIF her first semester at Duke (2018) and has put in countless hours both at schools for science nights and at SMIF for summer camps and school visits. She goes out of her way to arrange her schedule to be able to help and is usually the first person we hear back from when we are looking for help with outreach events.


Anna Fraser (UNC) – Anna is currently a graduate student in Chemistry at UNC. She works in Dr. Theo Dingemans group. She has volunteered at many events over the past couple of years including those at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Anna also volunteers through the Student Chapter of the Materials Research Society at UNC. Anna provides a welcoming and friendly environment to all participants.


2020 RTNN Collaborative Research Award

This award seeks to identify outstanding research projects, papers, and/or presentations that leverage the resources, equipment, and/or expertise available through the RTNN. Awarded research projects are expected to demonstrate a high-level of research progress and achievement that was made possible only by the use of two or more university sites or collaborators within the RTNN.

Carrie Donley and Fred Stevie

Educational resources for X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS)

Recently, a few publications have illustrated that a large percentage of research papers that include XPS data have seriously flawed interpretation of the data. As a response to this crisis in the field, the American Vacuum Society (AVS) sponsored a collection of publications to improve the overall understanding of XPS. Carrie and Fred prepared two papers for the AVS collection: one which is an overall introduction to XPS and a second paper that offers guidance on sample handling and preparation. These papers will not only help the researchers at NCSU and UNC, but in the larger XPS community as well.

”Introduction to X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS)”, Fred A. Stevie and Carrie L. Donley, J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A38, 063204 (2020).

”Sample handling, preparation and mounting for XPS and other surface analytical techniques”, Fred A. Stevie, Roberto Garcia, Jeffrey Shallenberger, John G. Newman, and Carrie L. Donley, J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A38, 063202 (2020).