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Kerfeld helps celebrate 20 years of national nanoscience

By Matt Davenport

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Michigan State University expert Cheryl Kerfeld joined policy makers and representatives from government and private funding agencies to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act.

“Since it was signed into law, the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act has driven innovation by challenging the next generation of researchers to think big by thinking small,” said President Joe Biden in remarks prepared for the celebration. “From green technology to quantum computing, the advancements we are making in nanotechnology are solving some of our Nation’s greatest challenges.”

The 2003 law spurred the creation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, or NNI, which helps coordinate and accelerate nanoscale science and technology innovation in the U.S. with support from more than 30 federal and independent agencies and commissions.

Last month, the NNI hosted a symposium in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the anniversary and invited Kerfeld as a panelist to discuss fundamental research in nanotechnology. Kerfeld is a Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the MSU-U.S. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory whose research focuses on natural nanosystems.

By understanding the fundamentals of biological nanostructures, Kerfeld’s team is working to engineer new ways to develop medicines, biofuels and more.

“One of the beautiful things about nano, from my perspective, is the ability to do important and complementary work in two very different schools of thought or two very different goals,” Kerfeld said of her work in both basic and applied nanoscience.

Watch the video below to hear the entire panel discussion.