Events & Media

Bren School Makes a Big Showing at Nanotechnology Conference

Arturo Keller

The Bren School had a big presence at a nanotechnology conference held Nov. 3-5 in Santa Barbara, where Bren professor Arturo Keller served as conference chair and two students won awards for their research presentations.

The conference, organized by the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO), featured posters and presentations about nanotechnology research from more than 200 students and researchers from around the world.

Last year’s conference was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was held in Arlington, Virginia, where NSF is based.

According to Keller, who also serves as associate director of the University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN), SNO’s selection of Santa Barbara for this year’s event reflects the volume and scope of nanotechnology-related research occurring here. The Bren School and UCLA co-host UC CEIN, and UCSB is also home to the Center for Nanotechnology in Society and the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

“We were very happy to bring this conference to Santa Barbara,” says Keller. “It was a really good showcase of the research that we do here.”

Bren PhD student Adeyemi Adeleye, who presented on carbon nanotubes, won one of 30 student awards given prior to the conference, while Bill Vosti (MESM 2014) received third place in a field of 47 poster presentations for his work with Keller on the environmental fate and transport of engineered nanomaterials used in personal care products, particularly sunscreens.

“Our preliminary results are that sunscreens are by far the biggest contributor of nanomaterials from the personal care products category to the environment, and that they are ending up in the landfill and in our soils,” says Vosti. “The impact of this environmental exposure is a question for future research, but it was a great experience to share our research with experts in the field, get great feedback, and be recognized for the work.”

Joining Adeleye and Vosti as presenters at the conference were Bren PhD students Jon Conway and Sheetal Gavankar; recent graduates Shannon K. Hanna (PhD 2013) and Anastasiya Lazareva (MESM 2013); and postdoctoral researchers Robert J. Miller, John Priester, and Laurie C. Van De Werfhorst.

The purpose of the conference was to bring together scientific experts from academia, industry, and government agencies from around the world to present and discuss current research findings on the subject of nanotechnology and sustainability.

“For this conference, we wanted to emphasize the applications of nanotechnology and opportunities to use nanotechnology to be ‘green,’” says Keller. “We also focused on the social, economic, and policy considerations for making this technology successful and safe.”

Nanoparticles are becoming much more widespread in the environment because they are so valuable to improving products in a variety of industries.

“Nanotechnology is working with materials at a very small scale, the nano-scale, which allows you to tailor their properties and enhance products by orders of magnitude,” Keller says. “Nanomaterials are unique, with applications in medicine, energy, the environment, food and agriculture, and many other areas.”

The third annual Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization will take place in Boston in November 2014.