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NSF Expert to Discuss "New Frontiers in Nanotechnology" at UB Sept. 20

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: September 13, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A major contributor to the development of nanotechnology in the United States will discuss its evolution and future initiatives in a lecture at the University at Buffalo.

Mihail C. Roco, senior advisor for nanotechnology for the National Science Foundation, will speak about "New Frontiers for Nanotechnology" at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 in Room 201/106 of the Student Union Theatre on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

The hour-long lecture, part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the UB Office of the Vice President for Research, will be preceded by a reception with refreshments at 3 p.m.

Roco was a key architect of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a long-term research and development program that coordinates 27 federal departments and independent agencies and which this year has a total budget of about $1.4 billion.

His lecture will focus on the genesis of the NNI, its current outcomes and likely evolution. Roco also will explore scientific and technological frontiers, the balance between the promised benefits and measures to address possible undesirable effects, and the general risks associated with nanotechnology applications.

"Nanoscience and nanotechnology have opened an era of integration of fundamental research and engineering from the atomic and molecular levels. It has increased technological innovation, and provided an enabling base for improving human health and long-term cognitive abilities," Roco said. "For the next five years, new priorities are envisioned in exploratory research for nanomedicine, energy conversion, food and agriculture, realistic simulations at the nanoscale, molecular nanosystems, and improving human potential."

Roco holds 13 patents and has published more than 200 papers and 15 books, including "Nanotechnology: Societal Implications -- Maximizing Benefits to Humanity" (Springer, 2006) and "Managing Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno Innovations" (Springer, 2007). He coordinated preparation of the U.S.

National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) reports on "Nanotechnology Research Directions" (NSTC 1999) and "National Nanotechnology Initiative" (NSTC 2000).

Under his stewardship, the nanotechnology federal investment increased from about $3 million to $1.3 billion in 2006. Roco is a corresponding member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences and a member of the International Risk Governance Council; a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Institute of Physics. The U.S. Society of Professional Engineers and NSF elected Roco as Engineer of the Year in 1999 and 2004.