The Mysterious Inspiration of Future Scientists

Anyone who has watched CSI, Bones, or Breaking Bad on television has had the opportunity to see how chemistry can be important in solving (or committing) a crime. The popularity of forensics drama inspired scientists within our Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology to develop a set of outreach activities where middle school students can use chemistry …

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 …

Nuclear Proliferation & Sustainability: the History of Nanodiamonds

Half a century ago, a Soviet scientist was tucked away in a top-secret facility. The results of his experiments are critical to our work here the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. Find it hard to believe? Read on!Why We Use NanodiamondsOne of the materials that we are using in our research is nano-sized diamond. We also …

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 …

Kadir Hussein Wins a Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity Award

The University of Minnesota's Office for Equity and Diversity awarded Kadir Hussein with their Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Award. Kadir is an undergraduate student who does research as part of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology under the guidance of Professor Christy Haynes at the University of Minnesota. He participated in our Research Experiences for …

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,” …

“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 …

Citizen nanoscientists: Can you design nanomaterials from the couch?

Not too long ago, a team of frustrated scientists glanced up from their computer screens and saw the untapped potential beyond their lab doors. They had spent years trying to unravel the mysteries of protein folding, but some just couldn’t seem to be solved. Why not harness the brainpower of the public? The biochemists disguised …

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 …