Sustainable Nano

Sustainable Nano

Curious about nanotechnology, sustainability, and life in science? The Sustainable Nano podcast is produced by the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, a chemistry research center funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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    Ep 31. Jumping Asteroid Clouds: Supporting Vulnerable Learners in Educational Achievement

    Last November, Dr. Cat Hicks wrote an essay on Medium called "Reading vulnerable learners' applications to grad school: we need to stop failing them." In this episode of the podcast, University of Minnesota graduate student Becky Rodriguez interviews Dr. Hicks about her essay, her educational and career path, and how our educational system can be stacked against vulnerable learners. She offers some advice for applicants, those who review applications, and others who may just want to help. "A truly inclusive and diverse future will produce way better work, and you only get there by saying, 'we have to be comfortable with letting people be different.'" Our conversation is especially relevant given recent conversations about unfairness and fraud in U.S. college admissions. (And if you want to know what any of this has to do with asteroid fields, you'll just have to listen to the episode.)

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    Ep 30. Nanocomposites: Getting the Best of Two Worlds

    What could be cooler than a technology that uses nanomaterials? How about one with two nanomaterials working together? Nanocomposites bring together two or more nanoscale materials to take advantage of their combined features to get what Dr. Klaus Müllen calls "the best out of two worlds." Dr. Müllen is an emeritus director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, where his work ranges from the chemistry and physics of small molecules to nanocomposites and biosynthetic hybrids. In this interview he talks about how a fascination with color got him into chemistry, some of the many technological applications for nanocomposites, and some candid advice for young scientists.

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    Ep 29. Green is the Color of Chemistry

    Dr. Mary Kirchhoff is Executive Vice President of Scientific Advancement at the American Chemical Society and Director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute. Her career has spanned a variety of experiences related to sustainability in chemistry, including working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's green chemistry program and co-editing a book on Greener Approaches to Undergraduate Chemistry Experiments. In this episode, Dr. Kirchhoff shares insights from her career and and the importance of green chemistry with two graduate student interviewers from the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.

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    Ep 28. Who's Not In the Room and Why Not? Inclusivity and Bias Across Class Backgrounds in College Education

    Alvin Chang, Senior Graphics Reporter for Vox, wrote and illustrated an article last year called "The subtle ways colleges discriminate against poor students, explained with a cartoon." In this episode of the podcast, we share the audio of a webinar that Chang presented about his work for the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. He tackles challenging issues of class, bias, and educational attainment using clear illustrations (verbal as well as visual!) and simple analogies that are relevant far beyond the world of academic science.

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    Ep 27. The Constant Loop: How Nanoparticles and the Environment Affect Each Other

    Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO) is an important nanomaterial used in batteries, but little is known about what happens when it gets exposed to the environment. In this episode we interview Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology graduate student Liz Laudadio, who was the first author on a recent paper about what happens to LCO when it gets exposed to phosphates in water. We discuss why phosphates are important and next steps to understanding potential environmental impacts of nanomaterials: "It's a constant loop of, How do nanoparticles affect the environment? How does the environment affect nanoparticles?"

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    Ep 26. Nanomaterials and Renewable Energy: From Solar Panels to Machine Learning

    How are photons like toddlers? And what does that have to do with solar energy? Dr. Jillian Buriak has been researching nanomaterials and renewable energy for over a decade, including work to improve solar panel technology. In this first episode of the Sustainable Nano Podcast's third season, we interview Dr. Buriak, who is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Alberta and Canada Research Chair of Nanomaterials for Energy, about her research, career path, and even some advice for junior scientists. 

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    Season 3 Preview

    It's Season 3 of the Sustainable Nano Podcast! Here's a quick preview of a few of our upcoming episodes, including interviews with Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, Alvin Chang, & Dr. Jillian Buriak.

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    Ep 24. Using MRI technology to study nanoparticles

    How do we "see" nanoparticles when they're too small to view with a normal microscope? In this episode we interview Kelly Zhang, a graduate student in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology who recently published a paper about a new way to use NMR technology (like MRI for chemistry) to study the behavior of molecules that form a shell on diamond nanoparticles. We also talk about how watching anime as a kid inspired Kelly to become a chemist.

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    Ep 23. From Worm Genetics to Chocolate Cake: Art and Science with Dr. Ahna Skop

    What does food blogging have to do with genetics research? In this episode, we talk with Dr. Ahna Skop, an associate professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about how art, science, and cooking intersect, as well as some of the benefits and challenges she has experienced being dyslexic.

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    Ep 22. On Thin Films and Nobel Prizes: Margaret Schott Profiles Katharine Burr Blodgett

    At last summer's American Chemical Society national meeting, Dr. Margaret Schott of Northwestern University took the unusual step of giving her history division presentation as her subject, Dr. Katharine Burr Blodgett. In this episode we interview Dr. Schott about her own path in life and chemistry, as well as that of Dr. Blodgett, including the debate about whether this pioneer of thin film technology was overlooked for a Nobel Prize.

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    Ep 21. Quantifying Effects of Gender Bias: There's an App for That

    Does gender bias matter? You can see for yourself thanks to an interactive app created by software engineer Penelope Hill at [][1]. In this episode, we interview Penelope about what prompted her to create the app, some of the research behind it, and a few of the ways people in science and technology fields are working to overcome bias.

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    Ep. 20 Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland and the Definition of Sustainability

    What does "sustainability" mean? Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland is famous for serving three terms as the Prime Minister of Norway and chairing the World Commission on Environment and Development -- the Brundtland Commission -- which defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." In this episode we discuss Dr. Brundtland's autobiography, Madam Prime Minister, her life and accomplishments, and her contribution to our modern understanding of sustainability.

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    Ep. 19 Scientists and Impostor Syndrome: Can We Do Anything About It?

    You may have heard of "impostor syndrome" or "imposter phenomenon," when perfectly competent people have the feeling that they don't belong or are faking it in their professional lives. It can lead sufferers to hold back their ideas and self-reject from opportunities, and it is surprisingly common among high-achieving people. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Valerie Young, an expert on impostor syndrome with both research and personal experience. She discusses one common factor across all people who experience impostor syndrome, and three things you can do about it if you experience the phenomenon yourself.

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    Ep 18. Why Do We Care About Emerging Contaminants?

    As the Director of the Great Lakes Genomics Center in the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Professor Rebecca Klaper researches emerging contaminants such as nanomaterials and pharmaceuticals and how they affect freshwater organisms. In this episode we interview Dr. Klaper about the future of emerging contaminants and how her work relates to the development of sustainable nanomaterials.

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    Ep 16. Maybe Not the Next Industrial Revolution? Societal & Ethical Implications of Nanotechnology

    A lot has changed in the last 10-15 years about our hopes and fears around nanotechnology. Ira Bennett and Jameson Wetmore are professors in the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, and on this episode of the Sustainable Nano podcast we interview them about the complexities of understanding the ethical and societal implications of brand new innovations like nanotechnology.

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    Ep 15. The Art of Beehives, Foam, & Bubbles: An Interview with Peter Krsko

    Artist Peter Krsko uses his background in physics and materials science to study and communicate about nature. He is described as a "bioinspired artist whose approach combines science and art, participatory, interactive and community arts, and play with hands-on education." On this episode of the podcast, we interview Dr. Krsko about art, science, community building, and spending this semester as Artist in Residence at the UW-Madison Arts Institute's Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program.

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    Ep 14. What Does Nanotechnology Have to Do With Renewable Car Tires?

    What if car tires could be made from renewable resources instead of petroleum? In this episode of the podcast, we interview Dr. Paul Dauenhauer, part of a research team from the Center for Sustainable Polymers who have developed a new chemical process to make isoprene (one of the key ingredients in car tires) from biomass such as grass or corn.

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    Ep 13. Communicating About Science with 'Lab Girl' Author Hope Jahren

    Dr. Hope Jahren is a geobiologist who studies fossil organisms and the global environment, and is also the New York Times-bestelling author of the memoir Lab Girl. We interview Dr. Jahren about communicating science with the public, the joys and challenges of writing academic articles, and her thoughts on sexism in science.

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    Ep 12. Making Sustainable Nanoparticles From Plants

    Nanoparticles are widely used in a variety of technologies, and some researchers are looking for ways to make those nanoparticles more environmentally friendly. In this episode of the podcast, we interview Dr. Mike Curry about his research making nanoparticles from cellulose, a very common molecule found in plants.

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    Spring 2017 Teaser

    We're back from winter break and preparing a fantastic batch of podcast episodes for spring 2017!

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    Ep 11. When Artists and Scientists Collaborate

    Art and science are often though of as completely separate pursuits, but what happens when artists and scientists actually talk to each other? In this episode of the podcast, we interview Dr. Cathy Murphy about her experiences inviting art students to spend time in her chemistry lab at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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    Ep 10. Why Were Plastic Mirobeads Banned? Marine Debris and Sustainable Plastics

    Plastic debris in our water is a huge pollution problem, and just one source of that pollution is the tiny microbeads that have been widely used in personal care products. In this episode of the podcast, we interview Dr. Richard Thompson, a Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University and an expert on the effects of plastic debris in the marine environment. We discuss the recent federal ban on microbeads and what consumers can do to be more sustainable in our day-to-day use of plastics.

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    Ep 9. Seven Stages of Technological Adaptation

    This episode of the podcast features an interview with University of Minnesota graduate student Peter Clement, discussing the book The War on Science by Shawn Otto. We focus on Otto's explanation of the Seven Stages of Technological Adaptation -- an observation that how our society adapts new technology has generally repeated the same sequence of steps over and over, from discovery through crisis and adaptation, especially since the mid-20th Century.

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    Ep 8. How Nanomaterials Can Build Better Bikes

    On this episode of the Sustainable Nano podcast, we talk about one example of how nanotechnology is changing something many people use every day: bikes! Margy Robinson, a graduate student in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology and a competitive cyclist, explains how carbon nanotubes and graphene are currently being incorporated into some high-end bicycles.

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    Ep 7. What Do Glaciers Have to Do With Nanoscience?

    Why do glaciers sometimes look blue? Hint: it's not for the same reason we see blue as the color of the sky! On this episode of the podcast, we have an interview with Dr. Robert Hamers, following up on his recent blog post. Bob is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, and he tells us about a recent family trip to Alaska that got him wondering about why some glaciers have an amazing blue color.

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    Ep 6. Happy National Nanotechnology Day!

    October 9, 2016 was the first ever National Nanotechnology Day (10/9 = 10^-9 for nano!). On this episode of the Sustainable Nano podcast, we talk with Dr. Lisa Friedersdorf, Deputy Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, about National Nanotechnology Day, activities like #100BillionNanometers, the Nobel Prize, and this year's Generation Nano superhero contest.

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    Ep 5. What’s the Deal With Triclosan?

    The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently announced a ban on using the antibacterial agent triclosan (and 18 other substances) in soaps, and then last week the issue of antibacterial resistance was discussed at the UN General Assembly. In this episode of the Sustainable Nano podcast, we talk with scientist Eric Melby about different types of antibacterial chemicals and why we should care about triclosan in the environment.

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    Ep 3. Nanoparticles in Electric Car Batteries: How Do We Study Sustainability?

    In this episode, we talk about a recent research study that looked at how one type of battery nanomaterial affects bacteria called Shewanella oneidensis. We interview Mimi Hang and Ian Gunsolus, who were co-first authors of the study as graduate students in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.

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    Ep 2. Viruses: Biology’s Nanoparticles

    In this episode, we talk with scientist MG Finn about how viruses are like (and unlike) nanoparticles, and some of the ways researchers want to use viruses to fight disease.

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    Ep 1. Why Do We Care About Sustainable Nanotechnology?

    On this first episode of our brand new podcast, we talk with the Director of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, along with students, faculty, and a few complete strangers about some questions related to our Center's research: What is nanotechnology? What is sustainability? And what does it mean when we put the two terms together?

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    It’s the Sustainable Nano Podcast Preview!

    Curious about nanotechnology, sustainability, or life in science? The Sustainable Nano podcast is produced by the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, a chemistry research center funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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