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Prof Maynard & students - Right to left: Alison Oostendorp, Heather Maynard, Eric Schopf, Chris Kolodziej

Researchers from Argentina & the US Met in Patagonia to Develop Nanotechnology Partnership

Faculty and graduate students from the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry recently travelled to South America to participate in a US-Argentina Workshop on Nanomaterials, NanoMat09, on March 15-17, 2009. The setting was the Amancay Hotel in Bariloche in the beautiful Patagonia mountain region of Argentina.

The workshop was a stimulating forum for US and Argentinean faculty, industrial, and student researchers to come together and share top-notch science in the general area of nanomaterials. Of the US participants, all the UCLA faculty at the workshop were members of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), and all UCLA grad students were from labs of CNSI Members.

NanoMat09 was selected as the first Bilateral Cooperation on Nanotechnology by the respective countries. As a result, Mr. James Perez of the US Embassy in Buenos Aires and Dr. Chris Cannizzaro of the US State Department both attended.

A joint Statement on Increasing Cooperation in Nanotechnology was signed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Tom Shannon and Argentina's Minister for Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Lino Barañao on July 10, 2008. Both countries have existing scientific programs and are committed to promoting this cooperation on nanotechnology through interactions in the frame of joint projects.

Roundtable discussions between UCLA and Argentinean professors in parallel to the workshop resulted in steps to promote and further nanotechnology cooperation between the US and South America. A second workshop involving the same group will be held in Argentina in 2010, and a meeting has been proposed for the US in 2011. A workshop has also been scheduled for August of 2009 in Brazil between that country, Argentina and the US.

NanoMat09 was a unique learning opportunity for the students involved. The 14 US students who attended were given a historical tour of Buenos Aires. The students also participated in a cultural exchange, with the US students teaching the Argentinean students about the meaning of Thanksgiving and the Argentinean students teaching the US students about the history of Yerba Mate, the national drink of Argentina. As a result of the workshop two US grad students have been invited for three month internships in Argentina.

UCLA Associate Professor, Heather Maynard, first proposed the idea for the workshop as part of her National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award. She and Assistant Professor Lia Pietrasanta of the Universidad de Buenos Aires co-organized the event. Funding from the US was provided by the NSF through the International Center for Materials Research (ICMR) and the CNSI. "The workshop far exceeded our expectations for generating a proliferation of tangible goals for joint research at the frontier of chemistry and materials science," explained Maynard. "These interactions will strengthen cooperation and networking between the two countries." Maynard and Pietrasanta are now collaborating on research as a result of their work together organizing this workshop.

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