Science Outside the Lab: Nanotech and Policy

Science Outside the Lab offers a selected cohort of graduate student scientists and engineers the opportunity to immerse themselves in science policy's culture and experience and explore the relationships among science, innovation, and policy. In this experience, students will meet with policymakers, specialists, and organizations from across Washington, DC, and beyond in a program centered on the challenges of the governance of emerging technologies. The goal is to expose participants to as many different viewpoints as possible, develop a skill set for policy action, and help them understand how people and institutions influence and learn from science.

Because of the current COVID-19 situation, the 2022 edition of Nano SOtL will be held virtually for three hours/day (12 pm-3 pm Eastern Time / 9 am-Noon Pacific Time) for two weeks. Students will meet with practitioners, policymakers, and others who will share their perspectives and experiences during the program. Participants will also engage in a handful of individual and team activities that will help to build skillsets for policy action.

This customized program is sponsored by the NSF-funded Nanotechnology Collaborative Infrastructure Southwest (NCI-SW) and will be led by Dr. Jameson Wetmore from Arizona State University. During the workshop, participants will investigate the context of science and technology decision-making in government at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Participants may, for instance, meet and interact with congressional staffers, lobbyists, funding agency officers, regulators, journalists, academics, museum curators, and others to learn how and why emerging technologies are funded, regulated, shaped, critiqued, and publicized.

In addition to training in the Societal and Ethical Implications (SEI) of nanoscale science and engineering, students participating in the 2022 Nano SOtL will be trained to be “SEI Ambassadors” and asked to share what they’ve learned and be a resource to other students, staff, and faculty at their home institutions based on their experiences and skills in the program. 

Graduate students affiliated with the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI - and the universities that participate in the NNCI are especially encouraged to apply to this program. We are looking for candidates interested in how decisions are made about science and innovation funding, regulation, and policy.


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