The International Council on Nanotechnology

Nanoinformatics: Making sense out of nanotechnology information

The broad area of research and development that can be accurately described under the umbrella term "nanotechnology" has undergone a breathtaking expansion since the inauguration of the National Nanotechnology Initiative nearly 10 years ago. With that expansion has come an enormous quantity and variety of data. Data about material properties, nanodevices, nanosystems, environmental, health and safety impacts, etc., continue to accumulate in various databases and information repositories. Understanding how best to organize, collate and increase the utility of these vast and diverse data sets is the goal of a new nanoinformatics project.
SOURCE: nanoinformatics.org

The field of informatics rests at the intersection among data, systems and people, and seeks to transform raw data into information that can then form new knowledge. Nanoinformatics is a name being applied to informatics as it relates to the data, systems and people engaged in nanotechnology research and development. To bring some cohesion to the nanotechnology researchers, informatics experts, government policy makers and other stakeholders potentially affected by nanoinformatics, a collaborative roadmapping workshop is being held this November in the Washington, DC area. More information about the workshop and the participating organizations can be found at Nanoinformatics 2010. The call for papers is still open.

Nano Safety Training Materials are on the Way--OSHA awards Susan Harwood Training Grant to Rice Team

I recently received word about the success of an OSHA Susan Harwood Targeted Topic Grant proposal I led to develop and deliver safety training modules and short courses for small-to-medium sized businesses that handle engineered nanomaterials. Ours was one of only 16 proposals out of a field of 168 submissions to succeed, and it garnered the largest award. It was also the only award to address the topic of nanotechnology. The full list of awardees can be found at the OSHA website.

This award builds on the work ICON has done with the GoodNanoGuide and enables our team to develop a set of training materials ranging from one-hour modules to an eight-hour short course that will equip trainers, employers and workers with the information and resources they need to work safely with nanomaterials. We will pilot these modules and short courses during the grant year at our partner institution, the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at University of Texas School of Public Health here in Houston and at select professional society meetings. Ultimately, the materials will be web-published for broader distribution.

Many thanks go out to the partners who worked with me to submit a winning proposal, especially:
Sarah Felknor and Amber Mitchell of The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
Bruce Lippy of The Lippy Group (co-author of the Nanotechnology and Hazardous Waste Worker Training paper)
Dominick Fazarro of University of Texas-Tyler
Walt Trybula of Texas State University-San Marcos
John Morawetz of the International Chemical Workers Union Center

US Department of Labor's OSHA awards $2.75 million in Susan Harwood Targeted Topic Training Grants for safety and health training