University of Alberta establishes Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology program

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta has established a new Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology. The program, initiated by the U of A's Office of the Vice-President (Research), is designed to encourage arts research in the field of nanotechnology by providing an opportunity for scholars in the arts to conduct research with colleagues in nanotechnology.

Establishing the Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology is the latest initiative by the U of A to foster interdisciplinary research among scholars in the social sciences, humanities, engineering, creative arts and sciences. Lorne Babiuk, U of A vice-president (research), says the program furthers the university's commitment to interdisciplinary research. "The aim is to broaden the impact of the National Institute for Nanotechnology, or NINT, across the full spectrum of disciplines on campus, into areas that aren't normally a part of the nano-scientific process," he said.

George Pavlich, U of A associate vice-president (research), says the Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology is groundbreaking. "With the establishment of this scholar in residence position, we believe a unique intersection and collaboration between science and the arts will result, with important implications for both," he said.

Pavlich says that as a relatively new area of research, nanotechnology's potential is just beginning to be understood by the general public. Pavlich says the arts scholar in residence program, based at the National Institute for Nanotechnology located on the U of A North Campus, will help sharpen the understanding and integration of nanotechnology into the broader community, as well as promoting the work being done by nano-scientists.

Nils Petersen, NINT's director general, says the scholar in residence program adds value to the institute. "By having colleagues from the arts join us in telling our story, perhaps in non-traditional ways, we hope more Canadians will come to understand the potential of nanotechnology."

Pavlich agrees. "If, simultaneous with the discovery of some leading technological advance, we have a concurrent assessment of its social, political, economic, creative or legal impact, then we are likely have an integrated initiative whose overall effects are more comprehensively understood."

Heather Graves, a U of A English and film studies researcher, will be the first to hold the position of Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology when she begins working with her colleagues at NINT. She says she will examine how researchers in nanotechnology negotiate the ambiguities of language in their research.

"This is an opportunity to watch the discourse of the new field of nanotechnology emerge and the language usage negotiated among the experts involved," said Graves. "One of the things we hope that nanotechnologists will get out of our examination is a vocabulary that they can use to talk about what they do."

The scholar in residence program is a three-year pilot program, funded by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures.

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