Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Project Abstract

Dear CNS fellows,
So far this internship has brought valuable skills and experience to my career development. Since the internship started I was hoping to gain experience and improve my writing and public speaking skills. The internship has had great emphasis in these two fields and has given me very valuable knowledge and confidence. The other gain that I am still developing is to keep building my professional network, talk to professionals in the field and gain knowledge of my future career steps. So far the CNS colleagues have been wonderful and have given me an irreplaceable experience. I am very thankful to my mentor Roger for choosing me and for all his unconditional help. Thank you to Cathy, Dr. McCray, and all the CNS colleagues. I know I will always remember this experience.

I leave you with my project abstract. I hope you enjoy it and we could talk about it more tomorrow after the presentation. Happy reading!

Green Nano-Visions and Their Policy Consequences
            My Project analyzes how environmental visions of nanotechnology impeded policy makers from seeing many of its environmental risks and implications. Between the mid-1980s and 2000s, key figures such as Eric Drexler, Nobel scientist Richard Smalley, and National Science Foundation administrator Mihail Roco all promoted nanotechnology as a tool to solve pressing environmental challenges. They envisioned a world where nanotechnology made anthropogenic activity more environmentally sustainable. For instance, in 2000, when the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) began, Roco declared nanotechnology would boost crop yields, desalinate water, provide sustainable energy, and diminish pollution.
            In the years just after the NNI began, these visions about nanotechnology’s environmental applications impeded scientists and policy-makers from seeing its potential implications and environmental consequences. Although, today, nanotechnology does include beneficial applications like water remediation and solar energy absorption, much remains unknown about nanotechnology’s environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications. Despite numerous studies revealing the likely toxicity of some nanomaterials to humans, soils, plants, and other organisms, only 3% of the NNI budget is dedicated to EHS implications. Nanotechnology’s earliest advocates promoted their visions of environmental applications so effectively that EHS concerns about nanotechnology went underexplored during the crucial earlier years of the American nanotechnology enterprise.  By uncovering the early environmental visions of nanotechnology, this project helps explain why American efforts to explore nanotechnology’s EHS issues remain delayed and underfunded.


  1. Drawing a direct line between perceived under-regulation of emerging technologies and the innovators who pioneer such technologies seems a bit naive and misguided. Synthetic supplements and related food alternatives have been in use in the US for decades, despite the fact that inadequate research studies have resulted in conflicting information on whether these products are beneficial, neutral, or even harmful. There are myriad examples, from tanning beds to mercury levels in farmed fish, all of which involve health risks associated with innovation and none of which have anything to do with innovators preventing government organizations from engaging in safety research. A selective focus on emerging technologies, and especially on their innovators, suggests that they are perhaps nothing more than convenient, high-visibility targets.

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