David Berube Reflects on 20 Years of Nanotech in Society

Headshot of David Berube

At the most recent NNCI seminar, RTNN’s David Berube joined Arizona State’s Andrew Maynard to discuss nanotechnology in society over the past twenty years. Their engaging discussion covered a range of topics. 

Abstract: In a major address at Caltech in 2000, President Bill Clinton unveiled the National Nanotechnology Initiative and proposed doubling the federal funding for nanoscale research in the United States. President Clinton gave the speech in front of a map of the Western hemisphere created out of gold atoms. Looking back at it he joked: ”I think you will find more enduring uses of nanotechnology.” Since that day the federal government has poured billions of dollars into nanoscale R&D and scientists and engineers have indeed found more enduring uses. Questions, concerns, and excitement about the social aspects and implications of nanotechnology have accompanied this effort every step of the way. This panel brings together two scholars who have played important roles in exploring nano in society over the past twenty years. They will reflect on the changes in the way that scholars, governments, corporations, and the general public engage with nanotechnology over the last two decades.

Watch the conversation:

NNCI Hosts Anti-Racism Town Hall

On June 24th, the NNCI hosted a town hall for all NNCI stakeholders including facility users, students, staff, and faculty. The Town Hall was led by Jacob Jones (RTNN), the chair of the NNCI Diversity Subcommittee, who was joined by a panel of Diversity Subcommittee members Liney Arnadottir (NNI), Bruce Clemens (nano@Stanford), Kristin Field (MANTH), Mike Hochella (NanoEarth), Sherine Obare (SENIC), Chris Ober (CNF), Heather Rauser (MONT), and Bill Wilson (CNS) as well as SEI expert David Berube (RTNN). RTNN staff members provided logistical support, answered questions, and directed comments to the panel.

The Town Hall provided a safe venue for candid conversations about race. Oliver Brand (Director of the NNCI Coordinating Office) began the meeting by confirming his and the Coordinating Office’s strong support for the Town Hall and reinforcing the importance of the event. Jacob Jones provided context for the Town Hall by reviewing the results of the 2019 NNCI staff climate survey and the action items that resulted. Panelists and participants then shared their personal experiences with racism as well as those of their students and facility users. Participants used an interactive polling app to answer questions posed by the Subcommittee in real time. They reflected on their perceptions of user experiences in nanotechnology facilities in regards to racism and their knowledge of available resources to combat racism in these facilities. During the event, participants discussed strategies for facilities moving forward and provided the Subcommittee with numerous anti-racism actions.

The NNCI Diversity Subcommittee also collated a list of relevant resources (copied below) for all participants. NNCI participants who wish to be included in future NNCI meetings and conversations surrounding anti-racism can complete this form.