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"There needs to be a balance between exploiting nano- technology for economic benefits and sufficiently monitoring the social impact."  

-Workshop roundtable discussion


2007 Workshop: Nanotechnology and Society: The Organization and Policy of Innovation

May 17, 2007, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Speaker Bios and Abstracts

armstrongJohn Armstrong: Dr. Armstrong moved to Amherst from Westchester County, N.Y., following his retirement from IBM in 1993, where during a 30-year career his positions included vice president for science and technology and IBM director of research. He is a member of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. In 1996 he joined the Dean's Advisory Council of the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He and his wife, Elizabeth, founded the Armstrong Endowment to support a full-time professor within the College. Armstrong has served as a presidential appointee as a member of the National Science Board, and is a former chair of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Armstrong has an A.B. and a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University and was a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers from 1990 to 1996.

Abstract:: Nanotechnology, development and public
In this talk, Dr. Armstrong will discuss five points to think about in regards to Nanotechnology when dealing with development and public policy issues. Dr. Armstrong focuses on the vagueness of the term nanotechnology, the abstract nature in which it is conceptualized and what level of abstraction would be appropriate when conceptualizing it. Video

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buenoOtávio Bueno: Otávio Bueno is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. Most of his research is in philosophy of science, and in the last few years, he has examined the function of various kinds of microscopes in shaping our understanding of nanoscale phenomena. His research on societal implications of nanotechnology has been funded by multiple awards from the National Science Foundation, and he is currently working on a book on visual perception of nanoscale phenomena. He is the author of two books and over 80 papers in journals and collections, and has held visiting professorships or fellowships at Princeton University, University of York (in the UK), University of Leeds, and the University of São Paulo.

Abstract: Perceiving Nanoscale Phenomena: Interpreting and Disseminating Nanoscale Images
Scientific imaging techniques have played an increasingly significant role in nanoscale research. But how should the resulting images be interpreted? What kind of information do they offer about their targets (the objects and relations they are about)? And how should that information be understood and disseminated (in particular, how reliable should the information be)? Given the plurality of images found in nanoscale research, it is unlikely that a single unified account can be articulated that accommodates all the images in question. However, this doesn’t mean that a general framework that helps us address central issues in the interpretation of nanoscale imaging cannot be provided.

In this paper, I offer such a framework. It provides a new conceptualization of nanoscale images and their content, by highlighting the following aspects: (a) In order to understand a nanoscale image, it’s crucial to determine which kind of image we are dealing with: How was the image obtained? And which sort of information is it intended to convey? (b) We should then examine the sources of bias that the images may contain: What kind of artifacts may be included in the image? (c) Finally, nanoscale images are often used as exemplars in the domain from which they emerged: How can such images be used as inferential devices that allow researchers to generalize the information provided in a particular image to other samples (whether in the same domain or in related ones)?

After motivating and articulating such a framework, I provide some case studies illustrating how the proposal works, by considering a variety of nanoscale images from microscopy (including probe and electron microscopy). Video | Slides

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cooper Geoff Cooper: Geoff Cooper is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, UK. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in sociology. After obtaining a post-graduate qualification in computing, and designing computer based training packages for a software house, he did a Ph.D. on the discourse of human-computer interaction. Before joining the department he worked at Brunel University, investigating changes in research culture. He has been at Surrey since 1994, and served as Head of Department from 2002 to 2006.  Dr. Cooper teaches courses on sociological theory at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and supervises a number of PhD students.

Intellectual interests fall into two broad areas, the sociology of scientific knowledge and technology, and theoretical and methodological issues in social science.  More specific research topics include: deconstruction and sociology; the formation, organisation and significance of intellectual and disciplinary boundaries; the social shaping of technology, particularly mobile telecommunications; sociological dimensions of energy use; changing research culture and forms of accountability; the mediation of scientific knowledge and its effects.

He is currently: completing work on an ESRC project on the mediation of financial understandings of nanotechnology; co-editing a forthcoming collection ‘Sociological Objects: the reconfiguration of sociological theory’; and a co-investigator on the ESRC funded inter-disciplinary research group on Research on Lifestyles, Values and Environment.

He has published articles in a number of journals including Social Studies of Science, Sociology, British Journal of Sociology, History of the Human Sciences, and Sociological Research Online, and contributed chapters to a number of edited collections. He is currently co-editing a forthcoming book ‘Sociological Objects: the reconfiguration of sociological theory’.

Member of the British Sociological Association, the Society for the Social Study of Science, and the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST). Formerly a member of ESRC’s Sociology, History, Anthropology and Resources (SHAR) research college, examiner for the ESRC’s open competition for PhD studentship awards, and treasurer of EASST. Regular reviewer for a number of journals including: Sociology; Theory, Culture and Society; British Journal of Sociology; Social Studies of Science; Science, Technology and Human Values; and Information, Communication and Society.

Abstract: Investment and interpretation: nanotechnology, financial journalism and practical epistemology
Studies of the ways in which the media report nanotechnologies, and particularly the ways in which they frame their interpretation, are crucial to an understanding of the formation of public perceptions of what are highly technical areas of scientific endeavour. This talk reports on a research project which, whilst broadly located within this area of concern, looked at the related question of the financial understanding of science: how, in a field characterised by high levels of commercialisation, potential investors get information and make judgments about particular applications, and the significance of the roles played by journalists and other mediators in this process.

The focus here is on the practical epistemological strategies that scientific and financial journalists employ to make sense of nanotechnologies. Drawing on interview data, the paper considers the way that these journalists assess claims made about scientific validity and investment potential, and how they negotiate such narrative dilemmas as balancing the need for scepticism in a rhetorically inflated context with the professional requirement to produce an interesting story. It is argued that this analytic focus – on journalists as active interpreters and as actors for whom the understanding of nanotechnologies is a pressing practical problem – provides an important complement both to studies of the framing effects of journalistic copy, and to studies of public understandings of what remains, for most of the public, a relatively arcane field. Moreover, in focusing on where the action currently is, it may inform our knowledge of not just the commercial development of nanotechnologies, but also the formation and development of public opinion. Video | Slides

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gadlinHoward Gadlin: Howard Gadlin has been Ombudsman and Director of the Center for Cooperative Resolution at the National Institutes of Health since the beginning of 1999. Before that he was University Ombudsperson at UCLA from 1992 through 1998. He was also director of the UCLA Conflict Mediation Program and co-director of the Center for the Study and Resolution of Interethnic/Interracial Conflict.

While in Los Angeles, Dr. Gadlin served as consulting Ombudsman to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prior to coming to UCLA, Dr. Gadlin was Ombudsperson and Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

An experienced mediator, trainer, and consultant, Dr. Gadlin has years of experience working with conflicts related to race, ethnicity and gender, including sexual harassment. Currently he is developing new approaches to addressing conflicts among scientists. He is often called in as a consultant/mediator in “intractable” disputes. Dr. Gadlin has designed and conducted training programs internationally in dispute resolution, sexual harassment and multicultural conflict.

Dr. Gadlin is past President of the University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA) and of The Ombudsman Association (TOA). For three years, he was chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution. He also served 5 years as Chair of the Coalition of Federal Ombudsmen.

Dr. Gadlin is the author, among other writings, of ”Bargaining in the Shadow of Management: Integrated Conflict Management Systems,” “Conflict, Cultural Differences, and the Culture of Racism,” and “Mediating Sexual Harassment.”

Re-thinking Scientific Teams: Competition, Conflict and Collaboration
In this talk, Dr. Gadlin will discuss the organizational barriers and breakdown of collaboration in the scientific community while focusing on recurring themes in collaborative disputes. He then presents means for resolving and responding to conflict confidentially through dispute resolution programs and pre-nuptial agreements between collaborators. Video | Slides

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kesanJay Kesan: Professor Jay Kesan’s academic interests are focused in the areas of intellectual property and law and technology.  He has written extensively in the areas of law and regulation of cyberspace, intellectual property, and law and economics. At the University of Illinois, Professor Kesan holds positions in the College of Law, the Coordinated Science Laboratory, and the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. 

Jay received his J.D. summa cum laude from Georgetown University, where he received several awards including Order of the Coif, and served as Associate Editor of the Georgetown Law Journal.  After graduation, he clerked for Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Prior to attending law school, Jay Kesan—who also holds a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin—worked as a research scientist at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York.

Jay’s complete resume and bio can be found at

Abstract: Nanotechnology Innovation -- Two Aspects
In this talk, Dr. Kesan will discuss the challenges and issues posed by nanotechnology innovation for patent policy and for granting patent rights commensurate with innovation. Second, he will discuss how the insights from value-sensitive design can be applied to vindicate societal choices and preferences in emerging nanotechnologies. Video | Slides

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kleinmanDaniel Lee Kleinman: Daniel Kleinman is a professor in the Department of Rural Sociology, where he is also affiliated with the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. Over the past decade, his research has ranging widely, exploring areas including agricultural biotechnology policymaking, the relationship between science and democracy, the character of the new knowledge economy, and the commercialization of the university. He is the author and editor of several books, including Impure Cultures: University Biology and the World of Commerce (2003). His work has also appeared in a number of journals, including Science and Public Policy, Science, Technology, and Human Values, Social Studies of Science, and Public Understanding of Science (forthcoming).

Abstract: The Culture of the American University in the Age of Neoliberalism
Universities in the United States and across the globe are changing. What is the nature of this change? For nearly twenty years, much of the scholarship and work by journalists on the United States has highlighted increases in conflict of interest, secrecy, proprietary research, loss of unbiased public interest analysts, and distortion of research agendas associated with university-industry research relationships. While these concerns are not entirely misplaced, I argue that the focus on what are egregious violations of academic norms—on dramatic cases—fails to capture a deeper and more difficult to police transformation of the US university. Instead, I believe a fundamental transformation of the culture of university life and academic science, especially, is underway. In this paper, I explore the claims of some of the most high profile recent work on the commercialization of the American university, and I point to a set of examples and indicators that suggest we are seeing a deep transformation of academic culture in the United States. Video | Slides

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priestSusanna Hornig Priest: Susanna Hornig Priest, Ph.D., holds degrees in anthropology, sociology and communications. She has studied media coverage and public opinion for risky technologies since the late 1980s, and has published around 60 research articles, chapters, and books on this and related topics.

She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is currently Director of Research for the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina, as well as an affiliate of the university's Nanocenter, and she is currently conducting NSF-funded research on public understanding of nanotechnology.

Abstract : Predicting the Future: How Ordinary People Make Sense of Emerging Technologies
This presentation will briefly review quantitative and qualitative data that suggest the general tenor of the current public opinion climate for nanotechnologies, and then identify the key factors that can be expected to affect how people cope with information about any new technology. These include their own underlying values, their levels of trust in key social actors, and the connections they identify with technologies previously encountered, as well as information from media accounts. Public conceptions of potential risks are often broader than those commonly identified in formal risk assessments, encompassing "social risks" such as disruption, displacement, privacy, distribution, regulation, and so on, as well as risks to human health and environmental integrity. While media are only one influence among many, they are regularly accused of exaggerating some risks while ignoring others. Progress toward developing a theory that might predict when and explain why this occurs will be reviewed. Video | Slides

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David Rejeski: David Rejeski directs the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and the Foresight and Governance Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. He was a Visiting Fellow at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and an agency representative (from EPA) to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Before moving to CEQ, he worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) on a variety of technology and R&D issues, including the development and implementation of the National Environmental Technology Initiative.

Before moving to OSTP, he was head of the Future Studies Unit at the Environmental Protection Agency. He spent four years in Hamburg, Germany, working for the Environmental Agency, Department of Public Health, and Department of Urban Renewal and, in the late 1970’s, founded and co-directed a non-profit involved in energy conservation and renewable energy technologies.

He has written extensively on science, technology, and policy issues, in areas ranging from genetics to electronic commerce and pervasive computing and is the co-editor of the recent book: Environmentalism and the Technologies of Tomorrow: Shaping the Next Industrial Revolution, Island Press 2004.

He sits on the advisory boards of a number of organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board; the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education; the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the Journal of Industrial Ecology, the Greening of Industry Network, and the University of Michigan’s Corporate Environmental Management Program. He has graduate degrees in public administration and environmental design from Harvard and Yale.

Abstract: Why managing research is not managing science
In this talk, Dr. Rjeski will discuss the increase and penetration of new nano products into the market and how this is a measure of its success. He will then address the need for responsibility and education to address the public’s desire for full-disclosure, pre-market testing, and third-party testing and research. Finally he will discuss the nanotechnology concerns for the future. Video | Slides

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