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Industry Seminar Series

A program within NanoEarth's Innovation Ecosystem is our Industry Seminar Series. The purpose of the series is to invite prominent industry speakers to the Virginia Tech campus to share with the NanoEarth team the unique nano fabrication and characterization challenges they face in industry, and how collaboration with NNCI node sites like NanoEarth can help support their efforts. Ultimately, the goals of this effort are to: 1) foster more robust collaborations with industry and 2) develop a set of industry case-studies that demonstrate the importance of industry/academic collaborations around nano characterization and fabrication. 

Upcoming Speaker: Darren Anderson

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Below are details and recordings of our previous seminar speakers.

Adjunct Research Professor, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC
Dreher Toxicology Consulting, LLC

Pulmonary In Vitro Toxicity of Copper Carbonate Particles Employed as Outdoor Wood Preservative

Abstract: Accurate and rapid risk assessments of engineered nanomaterials are critical for their safe use in commercial products and in a variety of innovative technologies. Micronized copper carbonate (CuCO3) containing nanoparticles (NPs) are employed as an outdoor wood preservative, raising the risk of exposure to nanoscale CuCO3 particles. This seminar will present results from a variety of alternative methods (in vitro/cell-based and non-cellular methods) employed to evaluate the physicochemical properties and pulmonary toxicity of milled CuCO3 samples containing NPs and saw dust (SD) obtained from untreated and CuCO3 treated wood. The presented findings will show that micronized CuCO3 containing NPs employed as wood preservative have inherent reactivity correlated with human airway epithelial cell cytotoxicity. The difference in cytotoxicity and gene expression profiles between the micronized CuCO3 particles and SD from CuCO3 treated wood indicate evaluation of the NPs alone may not be sufficient to assess potential health risk. Results indicate that accurate risk assessments such as toxicological evaluations of engineered nanomaterials or nanoparticles should be performed using their commercial versions or formulations.

Speaker: Dr. Dreher is an adjunct research professor at several universities and is currently  a consultant for toxicology. Dr. Dreher was a senior investigator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) from August 1, 1991 – December 31, 2021 (retired), where he studied the toxicology/health effects of regulated chemicals and environmental pollutants. He also conducted research for USEPA’s Homeland Security program examining the public health safety levels of chlorine dioxide employed in anthrax remediation. Dr. Dreher served as co-chair of the Health and Environmental Science Institute, Cardiac Safety Technical Committee Leadership and Advisory Panel and was a member of its Cardiac Stem Cell Group, as well as a contributing member to the OECD international harmonized testing guidelines committee for engineered nanomaterials. He has co-authored several US EPA and federal research strategy and regulatory documents. Dr. Dreher was a past Councilor of the Inhalation Specialty Section, as well as President, and co-founder of the Cardiovascular Toxicology Specialty Section of the National Society of Toxicology. Currently, Dr. Dreher is a science adviser to the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Toxicology Program, Cardiovascular Health Effects Initiative and serves on national and international review boards for thirty major scientific journals.

This talk was held in-person and virtual on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 10:30 am EST at the NCFL.

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Co-Founder, Smart Aerosol Technologies, USA
Head R&D, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited, India
Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, India

Nanofertilizer for sustainable and precision agriculture

Abstract: The increasing food demand because of the rising global population has prompted the large-scale use of agri-inputs including fertilizers. As a result of resource constraints and low use efficiency of fertilizers, the cost to the farmer is increasing dramatically, but also affecting the environment. Nanotechnology offers great potential to tailor fertilizer production with the desired chemical composition, improve the nutrient use efficiency that may reduce environmental impact, and boost the plant productivity. Furthermore, controlled release and targeted delivery of nanoscale active ingredients can realize the potential of sustainable and precision agriculture. In the presentation, I will discuss nanotechnology-based approaches for smart and precision agriculture, using an example of nanoscale nitrogenous fertilizer from lab to land in a reliable, affordable, and scalable manner. Scientific gaps to be overcome and fundamental questions to be answered for safe and effective development and deployment of nanotechnology will also be discussed.

Speaker: Dr. Raliya is the Head of Research and Development at the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), India, and Co-founder of Smart Aerosol Technologies, USA. He is also an honorary adjunct faculty at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. Prior to joining IFFCO, he was Research Scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. Raliya’s research expertise is in product and technology development with the aim of reducing fertilizer runoff while improving sustainable agriculture. Dr. Raliya invented processes for synthesizing novel inorganic and organic nanoforms with independently controlled properties. These nanoforms have been used to study their impact on plant nutrition, plant protection, biomedical uses including drug delivery, therapeutics, imaging, water chemistry, energy storage materials, sensors, and environmental interactions. Dr. Raliya has published more than 75 peer-reviewed journal articles, 3 books, and over 15 patents applications. His papers have been cited more than 5200 times with an H-index of 36. Recently, Dr. Raliya’s technology on nano urea fertilizer was awarded for the Research, Development, and Innovation Award 2021 by the Fertilizer Association of India. More about Dr. Raliya can be seen at -

This seminar was held on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 at 11:30 am via Zoom.

Previous speakers who gave seminars that were not video recorded include:

Consultant in Regenerative Agriculture

A Humification Index Using UV-visible Light Spectroscopy

Abstract: The dark-colored components of fertile soils, humus, peat, compost, and the active ingredients of commercial humic products are generally understood to be derived from the processes of humification. Despite the fact that there are numerous definitions and indices for humification, there is no rapid analytical method using common laboratory equipment to determine if a material is humified. We propose a standardized analytical technique based on Ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy to determine if an organic substance is humified using extraction protocols that are harmonized with the ISO 19822:2018 (E) international standard for quantitative analysis of humic substances.

Speaker: As an independent regenerative-agriculture consultant specializing in humic product development, Lawrence Mayhew’s mission is to help farmers reduce their dependence on synthetic toxic inputs through research and development of eco-friendly carbon-based products. Soil inputs of low aqueous solubility that consist of a balance of major, trace and ultra-trace elements as they occur in nature can support natural disease and pest resistance as well as production. Mr. Mayhew is trained in qualitative and quantitative analytical chemistry, biogeochemistry, and microbiology. He is a founding member of the Humic Products Trade Association, a member of the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) Laboratory Services committee, Soil Science Society of America, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Humic Substances Society, Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC International), and vetted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an organic chemistry expert representing the United States on the ISO Technical Committee TC-134 for establishing international analytical standards for agricultural materials.

This seminar was held on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 11:00 am via Zoom.

Chief Scientist, AxNano, LLC
Triad Growth Partners, LLC

Advanced Composites for In Situ Groundwater Remediation

Abstract: AxNano LLC is developing a range of composite materials for remediation of contaminated water with a focus on tunability, low-cost, ease of use, and environmentally friendly materials. This seminar will focus on two products within AxNano’s RemRxTM platform for in situ chemical remediation. RemRxTM CRP is a controlled release material for In Situ Chemical Oxidation. The highly tunable polymeric pellets can provide sustained levels of oxidant delivery into the subsurface with a single application, eliminating the occurrence of rebounding. RemRxTM CRPs are currently being pilot testing at a perchloroethylene-site in Texas and a former gas station in NC. AxNano is also developing RemRxTM ZVI, a zero valent iron-based composite designed to improve both reactivity and transport compared to current ZVI formulations on the market. AxNano has received Phase I and Phase II funding through the federal Small Business Innovative Research programs of the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in support of developing RemRxTM technologies. In addition to technical discussion of innovative RemRxTM technologies, Dr. Carpenter will also discuss the process of contract research through the SBIR programs, technology transfer and commercialization, as well as perspectives of working in a unique area of industry.

Speaker: Alexis Wells Carpenter PhD is Chief Scientist at AxNano, LLC, a small business entity with over 30 years’ experience developing early stage technologies to address specific market needs. Dr. Carpenter joined AxNano in 2015 and has supported company growth by leading the technology development group, securing nondilutive contract R&D revenue, and attracting strong talent to the team including 2 PhDs, 2 MS and 3 BS level scientists. Dr. Carpenter’s expertise is in the design and application of multifunctional nanomaterials for use in environmental and biomedical markets. Dr. Carpenter has a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill where her dissertation focused on manipulating particle formulations for controlled drug delivery and antimicrobial applications, under the advisement of Professor Mark Schoenfisch. She subsequently worked with Dr. Mark Wiesner in the Superfund Research Center and Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at Duke University developing zero-valent iron technologies for in situ remediation and enhanced wastewater treatment. Dr. Carpenter received her BS in Chemistry from Virginia Tech and did undergraduate research with Dr. Gordon Yee. AxNano is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triad Growth Partners, LLC (TGP), which connects entrepreneurs and scientists to launch or enhance existing technologies and build profitable businesses.

Learn more about Alexis Wells Carpenter on LinkedIn and Google Scholar.

This seminar was held on Friday, November 22, 2019 at 11 am in Kelly Hall 210.

Founder & Director of AcumenIST

The ‘Rise and Fall’ of Technologies on the Example of Biotech and Nanotech

Abstract: Biotechnology has often been referred to as the bigger sister of nanotechnology. Indeed, the difference between the two technologies is often reduced to a mere two-decade time warp between the technologies’ hype cycles, and both technology analysists, policy-makers and pressure groups continue to entertain each other with numerous stories about the exchangeability of the two technology names in meeting agendas, expert panel discussions, public debates and policy documents. This talk by Steffi Friedrichs, however, will highlight the difference between the two technologies and outline the potential pitfalls (for both the public and the private sector) in reducing the expected trajectory of any technology’s development to a mere copy of a previous experience.  Steffi will discuss the evidence recently published in two in-depth reports on the development of biotechnology and nanotechnology and their resulting impacts.  In addition, the audience will be provided with historic examples of technology developments and challenged to draw its own conclusion with regard to the long-term development of technologies and their resulting socio-economic impacts.

Speaker: Dr. Steffi Friedrichs has been a leading scientist, policy advisor and business representative for emerging technological innovation for nearly 20 years. She is currently the Founder and Director of AcumenIST, an internationally active consultancy that drives the advancement of science- and technology-based innovations through proactive initiatives in the public and private sector. Before joining AcumenIST, Steffi worked for the OECD, where she developed its definition, indicators and impact assessment of biotechnology and nanotechnology, and led two international workshops on gene editing. Steffi has a strong track record in the development and representation of companies; she was the Founder and General Director of the Nanotechnology Industry Association (NIA) group, Co-Founder and Member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Micro- & Nanotechnology Community (CMNC), Director of the Master’s Program in Micro- and Nanotechnology at the University of Cambridge, and Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry and Solid State Chemistry at the University of Oxford.

This seminar was hosted jointly with the Department of Science, Technology, and Society on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 9 am in the Biocomplexity Institute, Stegar Hall Conference Center.

Director of Science, Natural Immunogenics Corp, Sarasota, FL

Silver nanoEHS, studied while bridging Government, Academia, & Industry: Stories from over 15 years in the trenches

Abstract: This seminar will present a summary of nanosilver research focused especially on the environmental, health, and safety (nanoEHS) of silver nanomaterials.  A brief history of the development of a detailed mechanistic understanding of potential fate and transformations under physiologically and environmentally relevant conditions will be presented, as well as a summary of what is known and future research opportunities.  Current industry research into nanosilver consumer products, including colloidal silver and silver hydrosol dietary supplements, will also be presented.  A perspective of how to reduce complicated nanosilver mechanistic concepts to lay audiences will also be presented, to help reduce consumer feedback of “that’s great, but you’re too technical.”

Throughout the talk, stories of how to successfully bridge the gaps and form partnerships between government, academia, and industry will be presented.  Some of the constraints faced by industry and academia when partnering will be presented, with an opportunity for discussion of how to overcome these challenges successfully.

Speaker: Dr. Rob MacCuspie is Scientific Director for Natural Immunogenics.  Dr. MacCuspie holds a Ph.D. in Nanotechnology and Materials Chemistry from the City University of New York.  He has worked for several US National Labs including the US FDA, Air Force Research Laboratory, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he developed their silver nanoparticle reference materials and was an international leader in nanomaterial environmental health and safety (nanoEHS) research.  He was the First Faculty and Director of Nanotechnology & Multifunctional Materials programs at Florida Polytechnic University, and served on their Board of Trustees.  Dr. MacCuspie holds 1 US Patent , has written 2 book chapters and 42 peer-reviewed manuscripts which have been cited over 2,000 times with an h-index of 24.  Dr. MacCuspie’s passion for excellence and personal experiences with the health benefits of Argetyn23™ Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol are some of the many reasons he is excited to be part of the Natural Immunogenics team.

This seminar was hosted on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm in Kelly Hall Cafe X.

Technical Director of Promethean Particles & Professor of Chemical Technologies at University of Nottingham

The long road from bench to pilot to full scale production of nanomaterials

Abstract: The speaker will discuss how insights from advanced image analysis techniques for coal and biomass led to the design of large-scale reactors for the continuous hydrothermal synthesis of nanomaterials. That synthesis process was commercialized in 2008 through the UK-based firm, Promethean Particles, with support from 18 partners across Europe. Today, Promethean Particles designs and manufactures a wide variety of nanomaterials - including metals, metal oxides, hydroxides, carbonates and sulphides - at scales upwards of 1,000 tons/year, and markets those materials around the world for use in a variety of applications. The company also produces speciality nanomaterials like metal organic frameworks (MOFs) with applications in carbon capture. The road from bench to pilot, to full–scale production introduced plenty of new challenges but also new opportunities for cost savings and design innovation, and this presentation will touch on many of those issues including: operating costs, product formulation/optimization, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and treatment strategies for nanoparticles in process wastewater.

Speaker: Ed Lester is Technical Director of Promethean Particles which is a materials discovery company that uses continuous hydrothermal synthesis to make and scale up nanomaterials for clients around the world. He is also Professor of Chemical Technologies at the University of Nottingham and teaches chemical engineers and chemists. He has two research groups, one in fuel and power generation and another in continuous solvothermal and hydrothermal reactors for nanomaterial synthesis.

This seminar was held on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm in Kelly Hall Cafe X.

Director of Research and Development at Chemistry & Industrial Hygiene, Inc. (Denver, Colorado)

Predictive toxicological modeling: applications for fibrous minerals, lessons for nanoparticles

Abstract: Fibrous minerals are again in the focus of toxicological and epidemiological studies. Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) and similar agents (like "the most toxic mineral on the Earth," erionite) require risk assessment in many situations relevant for public health protection and occupational regulations. However, and very often, there is no sufficient information for emerging toxicants, to evaluate cancer potency and the shape of dose-response curve. Dr. Korchevskiy will demonstrate one of the possible approaches for predictive toxicological modeling, based on the chemical composition and structural characteristics of the fibers. The presenter will discuss implications, uncertainties and limitations of this types of models, along with possible lessons for nanotoxicology and other related areas. The role of a collaboration between government, industry and academia in risk assessment for emerging hazards (like, erionite, or nanotubes) will also be discussed.

Speaker: Dr. Andrey Korchevskiy is a Director of Research and Development in C&IH (Wheat Ridge, Colorado). He is one of the leading specialists in risk assessment modeling for industrial hygiene and environmental health applications. He arranged and taught risk assessment classes in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Ukraine, and has over 150 scientific publications in the fields of industrial hygiene, epidemiology, toxicology, and biostatistics.

This seminar was held on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 2:30 pm in Kelly Hall Cafe X.