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Lecture series at NMSU outlines statewide nanoscience initiative

Researchers and educators will gather July 11-13 for the New Mexico Nanoscience Education Initiative workshop and lecture series that are among the first steps in developing a statewide educational network for the teaching of nanoscience at New Mexico research universities and community colleges.

The lecture series will bring top experts in nanoscience and education from across the country. Lectures are open to the public. Events will be at New Mexico State University and are co-sponsored by NMSU's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and Honors College; by the Center for Genome Dynamics at the Jackson Laboratory in Maine; and by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Education and Human Resources.

The series begins with "Preparing Students for the U.S. Scientific Workforce," presented at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, in Gerald Thomas Hall, Room 194 (the auditorium). Giving an introduction to the initiative will be NMSU faculty members Boris Kiefer, Elba Serrano and Jacob Urquidi, along with NMSU Alamogordo faculty member Vicente Lombraña.

At 8:15 p.m., Lisa Frehill, of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology in Washington, D.C., will speak on "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education in the U.S."

The theme Thursday, July 12, will be "Current Topics in Nanoscience," also in the auditorium in Gerald Thomas Hall. At 3:30 p.m., Neal Shinn will present "Opportunities in Nanoscience Research." Shinn is from the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, which is operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

Steen Rassmussen of Los Alamos National Laboratories will present "Protocells: Simple Self-Reproducing Nanosystems" at 4:15 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m., the theme is "Enhancing Science Education through Collaborative Newtorks." Kamala Sharma, professor of chemistry at the University of New Mexico's Gallup campus, will discuss "Challenges for Science Education at Community Colleges."

At 7:55 p.m., Scott Reese, professor of biological and physical sciences at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, will present "Integrating Biology and Physics in Education."

At 8:20 p.m., Randy Von Smith, of the Center for Genome Dynamics at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, will present "Video Conferencing and Web-based Tools for Long Distance Teaching."

In addition to NMSU and NMSU Alamogordo, participating institutions in the nanoscience education initiative include NMSU Grants and NMSU's Doña Ana Community College, Diné College in Shiprock, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, Northern New Mexico College in Española and the University of New Mexico.

Faculty members from NMSU have been awarded a $174,777 grant intended to support development of a statewide network of faculty that will work to integrate nanoscience into undergraduate biology and physics courses. The award is provided by the National Science Foundation through the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program.

A team of three New Mexico State University biology and physics professors - Kiefer, Serrano and Urquidi - and a biology professor from NMSU Alamogordo - Lombraña - are leading the project.

The team plans to look at nanoscience education within three themes: health, water and energy. Serrano said the themes should help interest more students in the sciences.

Other ways of incorporating nanoscience will come from ideas developed by participants at workshops. Serrano said the project will bring faculty from community colleges and four-year institutions across the state together in an equal partnership to discuss how they will educate students.

The workshops and network will create opportunities for focusing on some of the challenges faced by faculty working in different settings across the state. The workshops also will be a chance for conversations about what can be done to address the lack of physics classes at some community colleges.

More information about the New Mexico Nanoscience Education Initiative and the July public lectures can be found at the lecture series Web site: