The overarching goal of UC CEIN Education is to ensure that the science performed and the discoveries made within the Center are leveraged to serve broader societal needs; to this end, UC CEIN Education fosters cross-Theme and cross-campus dialogue and interaction by designing programs that foster collaborative interdisciplinary science, advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning, mentor students and postdocs, and include the participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences.
CEIN Education consists of four project areas and one seed project:
This curriculum development project aims to translate the cutting-edge research of the UC-CEIN to an undergraduate population by collaboratively designing and developing a research-based laboratory module for the undergraduate chemistry classroom. In the Sustainable nanoMAterials Lab (SMAL) module, students will evaluate the role of common biological macromolecules in nanotoxicity; this module will be based upon the high throughput (HTP) assays already established at UC-CEIN. By bringing scientific research to the classroom, undergraduates will engage in a learning-by-doing approach, thereby providing students with an authentic, interdisciplinary research experience with real-world applications. Specifically, students will be exposed to issues considered in the evaluation of chemical toxicity (in human health and the environment) and techniques involved in sterile cell growth and safe handling of laboratory chemicals. Many students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences do not seek out science majors and research experiences in particular. By introducing undergraduates to research at an introductory level, we extend the reach of the traditional research model and engage these students in the scholarly community early in their career.
The primary goal of the UC CEIN’s student/postdoctoral mentoring and professional development program is to improve participants’ workforce preparation and professional skills by offering mentoring activities and targeted professional development workshops. To help the Center’s students and postdocs develop effective, professional communication skills for presenting their research, the Center offers participant-centered activities and workshops throughout the year. Individual workshops focus on spoken presentation skills or on written communication, and participants receive targeted feedback on their skills and suggestions for areas for substantive improvement during each workshop. The Center’s yearly Leadership Workshop offers students and postdocs a chance to network with each other, engage in cross-thematic group and cross-campus interactions, and to improve on their own mentoring and leadership skills.
Project 2: Course Development, Workshops, and Learning Tools
The goal of this project is to develop and disseminate educational outputs related to nanoscience and the environment. Educational outputs include lectures, workshops, and online content related to Center research. CEIN has partnered with Science Buddies to create two validated, step-by-step science fair project ideas, “Tiny Titans: Can Silver Nanoparticles Neutralize E. coli bacteria?”, and “Looking Downstream: Could Nanosilver in Consumer Products Affect Pond Life?” These and other educational outputs, such as our NISENet Linked Product, Oil Spill Clean Up Simulation, contribute to stakeholder understanding of concepts related to nanoscale science and engineering, fill gaps in the stakeholder knowledge base, and provide a springboard from which the Center can build future collaborations and partnerships.
The goal of our public outreach projects is to provide formal and informal opportunities for dialogue between the Center and its stakeholders, and to expand the knowledge base on research, societal implications, and risk perception related to the environmental implications of nanotechnology. The Center engages in public outreach by hosting academic conferences, seminars, and symposia, and by participating in public events. Yearly public events include NISENet’s NanoDays (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara), a public lecture and discussion at the Santa Monica Public Library, and UCLA’s “Exploring Your Universe” event. Additionally, the Center collaborates with CNSI’s ArtSci program every summer to introduce “nanoscience and the environment” concepts to high school students, and Education partners with the California Science Center for NanoDays, with the aim of reaching underserved audiences.
Project 4: Synergistic/Integrative Center Activities
To promote collaboration, cross-fertilization, and interdisciplinary partnerships across the UC-CEIN and with other research partners, the Education group helps to develop and deliver mechanisms to support face-to-face and web-based meetings, such as monthly working group meetings, seminar speakers, and the Center’s annual meeting. Monthly working group meetings include the Carbonaceous Working Group, which is cross-Theme and cross-campus.