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Rice UniversityCBEN
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology
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Health, Environmental, and other Societal Impacts

Although CBEN separates its projects into three main theme areas focused on basic science, bioengineering, and environmental engineering, there are projects and activities that span these areas. For example, many projects are addressing the interactions of nanoparticles with biological and environmental systems, including:

  • Activity of Bionanoconjugates, where the basic interactions of nanoparticles with specific biomolecules is under investigation.
  • Biomedical Applications of SWNT, where the impacts of single-walled carbon nanotubes on cells is being studied.
  • All of the Theme 2 projects, where understanding the interactions of nanoparticles with cells, tissues, and whole organisms are vital to successful development of the technologies.
  • Polymer Flow on the Nanoscale, where nanoscale fluid dynamics, important for understanding how nanoparticles move in the environment, is being studied.
  • Sorption of Contaminants onto Engineered Nanomaterials, where the impact of nanoparticles on the transport of other types of environmental contaminants is being investigated.
  • Nano-cell Interactions, where the cytotoxicology of nanoparticles is under direct investigation.
  • Environmental Exposure Routes, where the transport of nanoparticles through groundwater systems is being studied.

In addition, supplemental funding from NSF last year has enabled two new research projects that explore the societal impacts of nanotechnology:

Interactions with anthropologists Landecker and Kelty that were enabled by this supplemental funding have inspired the new Nanotechnology: Content and Context undergraduate course for which Rice was awarded a NSF Nanotechnology in Undergraduate Education grant. The societal implications supplement also enabled a special panel and session on societal impacts at our annual symposium.