Lawrence University has been awarded a $200,000 grant by the National Science Foundation’s Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education program to support an expansion of its growing nanotechnology and nanoscience initiative. Lawrence was one of only 15 institutions nationally to receive the NSF-NUE grant.
The grant will enable Lawrence to incorporate nanoscience experiments and activities into core geology and environmental science courses during the next two years. This is the second NSF-NUE grant Lawrence has received in the past three years. A $100,000 NSF-NUE grant in 2003 helped launch Lawrence’s nanotechnology and nanoscience program, which began by focusing on interdisciplinary research opportunities in chemistry, physics and biochemistry.
Nanotechnology involves the scientific study and use of materials on an unimaginably small scale, including the manipulation of individual atoms. It is widely regarded as having the potential to revolutionize scientific research and science education.
‘Nano’ refers to a nanometer, which is approximately one eighty-thousandth the width of a human hair. Because nanomaterials typically exhibit different characteristics than those in larger forms, they provide unique and innovative applications in areas ranging from medicine and national security to environmental technology and consumer products.
“Lawrence is one of only a few liberal arts colleges in the country that is aggressively incorporating nanoscience into its science curriculum,” said Karen Nordell, associate professor of chemistry and the leader of Lawrence’s nanoscience initiative. “We’re excited about the new opportunities this latest NSF grant will provide, allowing us to expand and strengthen our nanoscience offerings into additional fields.”
Beyond curricular and research activities, the NSF grant will support the purchase of several pieces of sophisticated equipment specifically designed for the study of nanomaterials as well as other laboratory and classroom materials. The grant also will fund the development of several outreach programs, including conferences and workshops for area K-12 teachers and a partnership with the ArtsBridge America program.
“Nanoscience has tremendous potential to attract additional students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers,” Nordell said. “Lawrence’s expanded program will enable students and faculty to conduct interdisciplinary research projects not only on our campus but through collaborations with faculty and students at other universities as well. We hope to help raise awareness among undergraduates, middle and high school students and teachers of the many ways that nanoscale science is affecting our daily lives.”