Stan Williams, HP Senior Fellow and director of Quantum Science Research at HP Labs, has been named to the new Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The organization is designed to help businesses, governments and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.
The two-year, $3 million project is located at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and is part of the Trusts' growing portfolio of emerging technology projects, which currently includes reproductive genetics and agricultural biotechnology.
"Nanotechnologies hold tremendous societal and economic benefits, from new cancer therapies to pollution-eating compounds, from super-lightweight materials to detectors for biohazards like anthrax," said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
But, she noted that past history indicates that the long-term success of nanotechnology "will depend on the willingness to tackle potential health and environmental issues associated with this emerging technology early and collaboratively."
That, she said, is the goal of the new project.
Williams a leader
At HP Labs, Williams leads a team that is developing molecular-scale alternatives to conventional transistors that could potentially lead to smaller, more powerful and less expensive computers. Research work in this area could make it possible to produce nearly perfect manufacturing yields with equipment a thousand times less expensive than today's methods.
Williams personally has received numerous awards for scientific and academic achievement, including the 2000 Julius Springer Award for Applied Physics, the 2000 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award and the Sloan Foundation Fellowship.
In 2002, he was named to the inaugural Scientific American 50 Top Technology leaders, and the molecular electronics program he leads was named the Technology of the Year for 2002 by Industry Week magazine.
Other notablables on nanotech board
Besides Williams, the Emerging Nanotechnologies advisory board includes:
- Linda Fisher, former deputy administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and vice-president and chief sustainability officer for DuPont
- Margaret Hamburg, former assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and former commissioner of health for New York City
- Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief, Science magazine
- John Ryan, director of the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration on Bionanotechnology at Oxford University
Thoughtful evaluation essential
"Given the national and international investments in nanotechnologies and their potential to drive future economic growth, it is crucial that all parties effectively anticipate and address both their merits and risks," said Lee Hamilton, president and director of the Wilson Center. The center's mission is to provide a neutral, fact-based forum for scholars, policymakers and other concerned citizens.
The project is led by science policy expert David Rejeski, director of the Wilson Center 's Foresight and Governance Project, which focuses on long-term, strategic issues facing the public sector.
"Businesses taking risks to develop nanotechnologies need a clear, transparent, and predictable path to market along with growing public confidence in new technological solutions," said Rejeski. "A forward-looking dialogue can help create that path and provide a competitive advantage for U.S. companies in the global marketplace."