Discipline: Chemistry and Chemical Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Jerzy Leszczynski - Jackson State University
The Interdisciplinary Nanotoxicity Center focuses on the development and execution of novel research projects, educational activities and service to local and scientific communities. The research activities include studies of structures, properties, their applications in various technologically important areas and development of efficient methods for evaluation of toxicity of nanomaterials. Integration of research and education and development of human resources will be one of the main priorities of the Center. All activities will assist further transformation of JSU into a world recognized, highly research active university focusing on education and training of African American students. Currently there are at least 1400 commercial products based on nanomaterials. Understanding of structures, characteristics and biological activities of man-made nanomaterials is critical to prediction of their impacts on the environment and human health. Nanoparticle exposure is common, but short- and long-term exposure effects are currently not fully understood, especially since the primary and agglomerate sizes, surface area, and the characteristics of the surface play such important roles. Conversely, nanotechnology can also be used to create new nanomedicines, sensors, pollutant filters and nanocatalysts with important societal benefits. There is a compelling need of studying potential toxicity of nanomaterials and advancing of efficient, fast and inexpensive computational approaches able to predict toxicity of new species before their industrial applications. The students supported by the Center are involved in training which combines the state-of-the-art experimental and computational techniques applied to nanomaterials. The educational and research activities are strengthen by interaction with the Jackson K-12 school system, The Center is a leader in the area of prediction of toxicity of nanomaterials and one of the largest producer of African American chemistry Ph.Ds. We have established an efficient pipeline for high school African American students from Jackson, MS, that will result in an increased of number of AA undergraduate and graduate students in STEM areas. We believe that in order to involve high school students in research activities and assure their constant interest, the proposed research project should be of general interest and attractive. The research is a driver that also facilitates students’ interest in further studying subjects that will help them to understand the details of their activities and analyze obtained results. Among crucial questions that contemporary science asks questions related to intriguing structures and characteristics of nanomaterials are being addressed in the Center. While there is a large group of researchers who investigate phenomena related to the toxicity of nanoparticles using experimental techniques, we developed an alternative approach, based on the background and expertise of various members of the JSU CREST Center. We do carry out such investigations using advanced computational techniques. For the purpose of introducing high school students to highly technical research, such an approach has some significant advantages. The use of computers is quite natural for teenagers – this research tool is already used by them in various everyday activities. There are two annual conference series that have been initiated and executed. For the last twenty three years we have been organizing and securing funding for a series of Conferences on Current Trends in Computational Chemistry (CCTCC). This is supplemented by 15 Southern Schools of Computational Chemistry and Materials Sciences (SSCCMS).
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,