Interdisciplinary Research Group 1 - Origins, Institutions, and Communities

IRG1 Research Highlight

Reliable knowledge about nanotechnology’s contemporary social, economic, and policy implications must be based on a comprehensive and robust understanding of its historical contexts. Nanotechnology borrows heavily from people, organizations, and methods that pre-date the founding of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Scientists, policymakers, and the public borrow on long-standing viewpoints in evaluating nano’s potential. Those borrowings shape how nanotechnology is done, perceived, and regulated.

Our work examines these historical underpinnings at multiple levels – scientists’ careers, institutions, research communities, instrumentation, national and state policy, and the public’s evolving perception of nanotechnology. Investigating the “deep history” of a broad set of communities and institutions helps us understand the resources available to the early nano-proponents, and ultimately allows us to understand how those resources constrained and enabled particular aspects of the nano-enterprise. This “practical past” therefore has intellectual value for the social scientist as well as the historian, and has special relevance for scientists and policy makers. (More...)

IRG 1 comprises: W. Patrick McCray, Group Leader and member of the CNS Executive Committee, David C. Brock (Chemical Heritage Foundation), Hyungsub Choi (Seoul National University ), Roger Eardley-Pryor (UCSB), Cyrus Mody (Rice University), Joseph November (University of South Carolina), Amy Slaton (Drexel University), and Ann Johnson (University of South Carolina).

Research Projects: The nano-enterprise sprawls over a vast landscape which includes academic, governmental, and corporate entities as well as diverse publics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and points of intersection with other emerging technologies. IRG1 research projects have focused on the following areas.

1. Nanotechnology and the Pacific Rim

2. Technoscientific Re-Emergence and Electronics Uncertainty

3. Institutions of Interdisciplinarity

4. Innovation and Research at the Nanotechnology-Biology Interface

(No current Project 5)

6. Nanotechnology Narratives and U.S. Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Policies

7. Divided Labor and Stratified Opportunity in American Nanomanufacturing: The Paradox of the Middle-Skilled

8. Nanotechnology, Aesthetics and Innovation

9. DNA Nanotechnology and Nanotechnologists


Completed Projects

Pioneers of Nanotechnology

(Nano)Technological Enthusiasm and the Public Imagination

Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Federal R&D Policy, and Energy ConversionTechnology