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  • E-News U. Contributor 3:07 pm on January 10, 2014 Permalink |  

    Nano science: By getting small, Hampton U. aims big 

    By Evan Winston

    Nano science is a hot topic in the science world today. With the help of The Hampton University School of Science, that very topic has made its way on campus. Last November, the school of Science received a $2.9 million grant to establish a nano science concentration, which engages students in the world of nano science and research with international partners.

    This 2013-2014 school year is the first year that the program has been implemented, and Michelle O. Claville, Ph.D., assistant dean, in the School of Science, foresees this program gaining strength in the future. “It is my hope that it (the concentration) gains strength,” she said. The presence of nanoscience at Hampton has come at an opportune time, as HU looks to become a research university. Claville also said that Hampton is primed to accomplishing that goal, but will have to build its research infrastructure.
    Nanotechnology is defined as the “manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale.” Nano is 10 to the 9th power, better known as 1 billionth.

    How small is that? An example of things on the nano scale, are a sheet of paper being 100,000 nanometers thick, or a strand of DNA being 2.5 nanometers in diameter. The human fingernail grows a nanometer per second. On a comparative scale, if the diameter of a marble were a nanometer then the diameter of planet earth would be approximately one meter.

    The origin a nano science came in 1959, when California Institute of Technology professor Richard Feynman described a process which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules in his book entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.”
    Nano science allows us to see and manipulate the atoms. One marvel of nano science was medieval stained glass windows. The manipulation of the color scheme and design of the windows, are a prime example of nano science.

    Nano science has become a great investment in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) field. According to the book “A Gentle Introduction to Nano science” by Mark and Daniel Ratner, it is estimated that by the year 2020, that there will be a need for 6million nano-based workers. Nano science will be used for a wide range of things from testing weaponry, and national security, to cosmetics and clothing.

    Nano science is credited in making Mexico City lose its identity as a high-polluted area. Now that nation’s capital has buildings that are made to eliminate pollution.
    It is findings like these that interested Claville, thus motivating her and the School of Science to push for a concentration in the field. When asked what interested her in the field, the assistant dean explained the importance of current technology. “Everything we understand about elements, atoms are elementary, now that we have proper technology to look at and understand properties that we couldn’t in the past,” said Claville.

    Claville has high hopes for the program here at HU. Already students are doing research in physics and pharmacy, however they are separate programs. “My hope is that the programs will consolidate their efforts,” she said. Whether or not students choose to participate in the STEM field or not, the goal is for Hampton University to be well known for expertise in a certain area.
    If that happens then graduate schools that are well known in research, should look to Hampton to recruit the brightest and best students in the field.

    The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

  • E-News U. Contributor 3:03 pm on January 10, 2014 Permalink |  

    Hampton U. scores science and tech mentoring network grant 

    By Jennifer Hunt

    Hampton University competed against 38 other entities for a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and was one of five institutions nationwide to receive it. The NIH awarded Hampton with over $192,000 in the form of a planning grant to establish a National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Consortium.
    The consortium will be tasked to create a network and mentorship program to serve individuals from ethnic backgrounds who are underrepresented in the biomedical field. The NIH also expects the network to provide more information and direction for individuals seeking careers in the research workforce.

    “There exists a critical national need to diversify the education pipeline in America’s institutions of higher learning,” said Chenere Ramsay, NRMN Consortium project director. “Representation of minorities in the pipeline leading to Ph.D. and research careers drops at each successive educational level.
    “While African-Americans constitute about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they receive approximately 9 percent of U.S. baccalaureate degrees, and less than 4 percent of the Ph.D.’s awarded. Hispanics, who constitute more than 14 percent of the U.S. population, receive less than 7 percent of the bachelor’s degrees and only a little more than 3 percent of the Ph.D. degrees.”

    Francis S. Collins, National Institutes of Health director, released a statement on the NIH ’s official website, http://www.nih.gov, saying, “Even after controlling for education, institution, and other factors that influence the likelihood of success, black investigators were still 10 percentage points less likely than white investigators to receive a new research project grant. These results are troubling and unacceptable.”

    The grant has three specific aims:
    • Implementing a six-month planning initiative that will lead to the formation of partnerships and an infrastructure for the national consortium;
    • Analyzing the mentoring and networking programs available within those partnerships and assessing each organization’s ability to expand or develop new programs as needed,
    • And designing innovative mentoring methods.
    Hampton is now in the process of implementing the planning initiative and has about 60 other universities, colleges and national associations involved in the consortium, said Elnora Daniel, special assistant to the president for research.

    “One of the major challenges will be developing an organizational structure that will pull all of these entities together and allow the mentee to enter the system and acquire the various mentoring services that they need,” said Daniel.

    An ultimate goal of the NRMN is to generate interest of the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research fields among underrepresented groups ranging anywhere from the undergraduate to junior faculty levels and provide them with the guidance they need to succeed in research careers.

    “The Hampton NRMN Consortium is very hopeful that we will get funded to implement our ideas in efforts to increase diversity for future generations of scientists,” said Ramsey.

    This five-year grant may award upwards of $20 to $30 million per year. The current grant is only the first initial phase for the NRMN, said Daniel.

    While the grant for the actual establishment of the mentoring network will not be released until the planning phase is near completion, the institutions involved know there will only be one as opposed to the five given for the planning grant.

    Other institutions that received the planning grant and are charged with setting up their own consortium include: The Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, and University of Utah.

    The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

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