Exhortations for Responsible Action*

Bassam Z. Shakhashiri Professor of Chemistry The William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea Director, Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy Department of Chemistry University of Wisconsin-Madison It was a privilege and a great honor to serve as president of the American Chemical Society in 2012. Only two other UW-Madison faculty members have served …

How the 2013 Government Shutdown Forced a Retreat from the Frontier of Science

Federal science funding is at the heart of the American enterprise. Sustained science funding was first established as the core of US science policy in July 1945, when Vannevar Bush, Science advisor to President Roosevelt, wrote “Science the Endless Frontier”. That laid the foundations for government agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National …

What do People Think of Science?

As an emerging scientist, I often can’t help but conclude that the public must think science is a bad thing.  After all, that’s the view I get every time I do my weekly groceries.  Take a stroll through your grocery store and you will find products that have labels such as “chemical-free,” “non-GMO,” “all-natural,” “rBST-free,” …

A Scientific Car Salesperson Visits the Factory Floor

Imagine yourself as a “scientific car salesperson.” Your job is to study how to get people to buy your cars. People ask you questions about the cars, and you usually have an OK answer. But, imagine if you could actually visit the factory floor and see the cars being made in person. Might that be …

“Leaning In” — Scientists’ Thoughts on Gender Equity

Last week, we scientists from the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, who usually use our weekly video conference calls to discuss science, spent time discussing the recently published book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. This is not standard reading for chemists; in fact, it’s written for business people, but I was inspired to read it because …

Teamwork Wins! Why Science Is Not an Individual Sport.

When you think about a scientist, what picture pops into your head? I’ll bet you’re picturing a lone scientist with wild hair, toiling away on some world-changing problem in lab. You know the one - that classic, crazy picture of the scientist. The truth is, when you’re a scientist one of the best parts of …

What Are Science Conferences Like?

Firstly, there are lots of scientists and very few lab coats or safety goggles — as they come to talk science instead of do science. There are lots of seminars — from the mind-shatteringly awesome to the "pretty OK". There are also "poster sessions" where people quickly describe their research to one another, and those can be great …

What Does Sustainable Have To Do With Nano?

Sustainability is a hot topic these days, even making its way into advertisements for one of the world’s biggest companies (see below). I would guess that on this very day, you have thought about sustainability, or at least encountered the idea. Maybe you saw a commercial that told you to “go green”, or read an …

Kids Learn About Nanodiamonds and I Learn About Kids

“Hey do you guys want to see some fluorescent nanodiamond water?!” I eagerly yelled out as two little boys walked by. Honestly, they probably had no idea what I was talking about, but they still excitedly wandered over. I handed them an ultraviolet flashlight and encouraged them to take a look underneath the black drape …