January 31, 2006|
Journalism panel joins debate at Purdue nanotech conferenceWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The smallest of particles can give life to the biggest of news stories, and three leading national journalists will kick off a Purdue University conference to spotlight what's behind the global nanotechnology revolution.
Candace Stuart, editor-in-chief at Small Times; along with Samuel Moore, a senior associate editor for IEEE Spectrum; and Forbes magazine nanotechnology columnist Josh Wolfe will discuss industry trends during a panel discussion, "Giant Ideas for Nano's Future."
The panel begins at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse in connection with Purdue's inaugural Discovery Lecture Series, "Transforming Society through Emerging Technologies: NNI at Five Years." Each journalist will give a 10-minute presentation about nanotechnology and then take questions from the audience.
Two other panel discussions by some of the nation's brightest minds on the subject of nanotechnology will follow, including one that will be led by Mihail "Mike" C. Roco, who is chairman of the U.S. National Science and Technology Council's subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology.
The Feb. 6 panel discussions are free and open to the public. The Discovery Lecture Series at Purdue is sponsored by a grant from Lilly Endowment to Purdue's Discovery Park, which is home to the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
Nano is a prefix meaning one-billionth, so a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Through nanotechnology, new materials and tiny structures are built atom by atom or molecule by molecule, instead of the more conventional approach of sculpting parts from pre-existing materials.
"The complicated nature of nano, its scientific unknowns, language and disciplinary differences make it a challenging topic for most journalists and their audiences," Stuart said. "We've been swinging from high expectations to doomsday predictions, both often presented with more hype than reason."
She joined Small Times in 2001 as a founding senior writer and served as the features editor and magazine editor before taking the publication's top editing post in 2005. She worked at the "Detroit News" as an assistant business editor and as a wire editor on the national desk. Stuart began her journalism career at the "South Bend Tribune" in Indiana.
Moore said he thinks nanotechnology is delivering on many of the promised benefits. "One issue is whether or not some big claims made in the last five to seven years about various nanotechnologies begin to come true," he said.
Wolfe hopes the panel discussion can help in "parsing out the vested interests of parties in the environmental, health safety issues debates in conjunction with what the science says."
He is referring to a Jan. 11 report released by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., calling for tougher laws to identify the environmental risks of nanotechnology that could crop up in the future.
Stuart said Small Times focuses on stories that demonstrate successes in how nanotech research is making that first step into commercial applications.
"I look for what I call the shared pain within a business framework," Stuart said. "We have a diverse readership scientists, engineers, CEOs, salespeople, government and economic development folks whose common interest is getting nano into the marketplace. We tend to look at the barriers and strategies for moving nano from the lab into products and then to users and consumers."
Following the media panel, at 3 p.m., experts in nanotechnology will discuss subjects ranging from how to start a nanotech business and advancements in treating cancer to the potential for venture capital funding and nanotech's applications in health-care delivery and electronics products.
Roco, who also is senior adviser for nanotechnology for the National Science Foundation, will serve as moderator of that panel discussion.
At 5:30 p.m., Purdue President Martin C. Jischke will welcome a third panel of experts in discussing issues in nanotechnology from health care to ethics and policy.
The Buildings for Advanced Technology III workshop also will take place Feb. 6-8 as part of the nanotechnology conference. There, presentations will focus on the state of the estimated $400 million in annual federal funding specifically designated for nanotech research.
The registration fee for Buildings for Advanced Technology III is $375.
Online registration for the conference is available.
The national conference comes on the heels of Purdue's October opening of the $58 million Birck Nanotechnology Center, a facility designed explicitly to accommodate multidisciplinary nanotechnology research on a college campus.
Discovery Park, which is located on the southwestern edge of campus, is Purdue's $250 million hub for interdisciplinary research and is home to a total of 10 established research centers focusing on everything from biosciences and manufacturing to oncological sciences and health-care engineering.
A Lilly Endowment grant of $25 million provided support for the Discovery Lecture Series as well as the seed funding for the Energy Center, Center for the Environment, Cyber Center and the Oncological Sciences Center at Discovery Park.
A portion of the Lilly grant has been earmarked as endowed funds to support Discovery Park's six original interdisciplinary centers, a Discovery Park student research internship program, and a $1 million endowment for a lecture series to bring prominent speakers to campus. The grant brings Lilly Endowment's total commitment for Discovery Park to more than $50 million.
Writer: Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Candace Stuart, (734) 994-1106, email@example.com
Samuel Moore, (212) 419-7921, firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh Wolfe, (646) 475-4385, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Journalists: Reporters interested in arranging interviews with panelists should contact University News Service writers Phillip Fiorini at (765) 496-3133, email@example.com; or Cynthia Sequin at (765) 494-4192, firstname.lastname@example.org. Broadcast-quality audio and video clips of the panel discussion will be available on the day of the event. Tours of the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Discovery Park by the panelists also are planned the morning of the conference, and coverage arrangements can be made for reporters, photographers and videographers.
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