Machines thinner than hair, studied at Hampton U.

By Daneisha LaTorre

In October, the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to three men – Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Frasser Stoddert and Bernard L. Feringa – for their design of a synthesis molecule machine. The synthesis molecule was one billionth of the size of a conventional machine.

In fact, if someone were to cut a strand a hair down to its smallest unit, it would still not be a nanometer.

Nanoscience, which is the study of structures and materials on the nanometer scale, was not exclusively recognized by the Nobel Prize winners. At Hampton University, members of the School of Science are also doing Nanoscience projects.

Michelle Claville, Ph.D., an organic chemist who serves as the assistant dean of the School of Science, established the Nanoscience concentration on campus in 2012. The Nanoscience Project of Hampton University is operating with $3.4 million in grants from the National Science Foundation. NSF also sponsored 25 Hampton University students with $3,000 to $5,000 each in scholarships to do research, study and teach others Nanoscience.

The scholars of the NanoHU grant are required to earn a minor in Nanoscience, which was developed specifically for the program. Scholars are also required to do year-round research, which is partially funded by the NanoHU grant and partially funded by the students.

Students of the program also have a summer requirement. NanoHU partners with other universities, including North Carolina-Charlotte, Indiana and Nebraska University School of Medicine, where they are able to do additional research.

"We do not just choose students with 4.0; we want students with different GPA's," said Claville. "We want all different types of students to be able to see how much each student grows after our summer research course."

In addition to students, NanoHU recently announced a request for professors to receive 25 percent additional funding in order to have time to do research.

In 2013, NanoHU adopted a summer enrichment course for high school students. Eight high school students from the city of Hampton were chosen to participate in a six-week program to learn about Nanoscience and also do their own research.

Last year, NanoHU widened its focus to elementary school students. Claville said the program conducted a Mad Scientist Night at Barron Fundamental Elementary School. During this event, the Hampton students demonstrated how to make lava lamps.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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