Nano Impacts Public Lecture: "Is Responsible Nanotechnology Doomed to Failure?"

Andrew D. Maynard, Ph.D.
NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences
Chair, University of Michigan Environmental Health Sciences Department
Director, University of Michigan Risk Science Center  

Abstract: For nearly 20 years, nanotechnology has dominated policy and dialogue around emerging technologies. Hailed as the next industrial revolution, nanotechnology has been built on the strength of new science, new engineering, and new products. It has been framed as an essential stimulator of economic growth, and it has been promoted as critical to addressing some of the toughest challenges of our time, from cancer to climate change. Nanotechnology has been sold as a responsible technology in that it will lead to tools that support the sustainable betterment of society, while helping to manage the excesses of less responsible times. But how responsible is the technology in reality? Is it merely a cynical co-opting of an existing trend in science and technology to line the pockets of researchers and entrepreneurs? Or does it hold the seeds of a new, more responsible approach to technology innovation? This lecture will explore both the opportunities and challenges around ensuring the “nanotechnology revolution” leads to sustainable progress, from a technological, economic, environmental, and societal perspective.

Andrew Maynard University of Michigan

Biography: Andrew Maynard is the NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center. As well as leading one of the top environmental health science departments in the United States, he has been instrumental in developing a unique center focused on making the science behind human health risks accessible to consumers ands decision makers across multiple sectors. Maynard’s research and professional activities focus primarily on the responsible development and use of emerging technologies – most notably nanotechnology and synthetic biology. Here, he has published widely, has testified before congressional committees, has served on National Academy panels and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology. He also writes a regular column for the journal Nature Nanotechnology on nanotechnology and responsible innovation. In addition, Maynard teaches risk assessment, science communication, environmental health policy, and entrepreneurial ethics, and lectures widely on technology innovation and responsible development. He is also a well-known science communicator, and works closely with and through conventional and new media to connect with audiences around the world on technology innovation and the science or risk.

Hosted by Dr. Kathleen Eggleson, keggleso@nd.edu