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Division of Biological Infrastructure

Alan J. Tessier
atessier@nsf.gov, (703) 292-8481

Two center awards, jointly funded by NSF and EPA, focus on the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN).   Both centers will study how diverse types of nanomaterials - natural, manufactured, and those produced incidentally by human activities - interact with the environment and with living systems.  Their challenge is to integrate nanoscale materials science and engineering with molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological biology, and with ecosystem science to assess existing and future concerns surrounding the environmental implications of nanomaterials.

 The University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UCCEIN), located in Los Angeles, will establish a library of engineered nanomaterials and characterize their impact on a range of cellular life forms, organisms and plants in terrestrial, fresh water and sea water environments.  UCCEIN will develop high throughput screening approaches and computerized learning technology to provide stratified risk ranking that can be used in a variety of ways by the academic community, industry, the public and regulating agencies.

The Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT), located at Duke University, will study mechanisms that control nanomaterial transport, transformation, and fate in the environment, with a focus on the biogeochemistry of nanomaterials, and their environmental toxicology at the ecosystem scale.  CEINT will synthesize this information into a rigorous risk assessment framework to model the dynamic interactions of nanomaterials with the environment, and address life cycle considerations that reflect uncertainties in the current state of the science.

Both centers will emphasize interdisciplinary research training for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and will be active in outreach by translating research results into risk assessment and mitigation strategies useful in the development of nanotechnology.  The extensive integration of research, education, and outreach serves as a model for successful centers activities.

CEIN fulfills a critical national need to enhance our understanding of the environmental hazards of nanomaterials, and eventually to provide basic information leading to the safe design of future nanomaterials that can improve environment protection.  It strategically fills a gap in current research of this developing scientific field.

Additional information about the NSF Centers for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology may be found at:

The UCLA center website

The Duke center website

 

 

Press Release 08-155

Directorate for Biological Sciences Centers Overview

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