Jan. 20 Science Cafe to feature campus researchers

Rebecca Lai
Rebecca Lai

The Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience will present a Science Cafe at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Red9, 322 S. Ninth St.

Rebecca Lai, assistant professor of chemistry, and chemistry doctoral candidate Jennifer Gerasimov will speak about discoveries in the area of DNA biosensing at the nanometer scale.

Lai's research involves the engineering of new or improved electrochemical biosensing platforms to develop a portable, real-time biosensor for on-site usage. Her goal is to make a handheld biosensor similar to the glucose sensor, but for the detection of targets such as DNA and proteins. Electrochemical sensing has the potential for diverse applications, ranging from cancer detection to finding toxins, explosives and even cocaine in the body and in the environment.

Research at a nano level, measured in billionths of meters, is done in many areas including physics, chemistry, material sciences, engineering, biology and medicine. Nanoscientists study and make new applications that improve computers, medical treatments, energy efficiency and more.

The Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience is on the forefront of research in one of the highest-priority national programs, the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Founded in 1988, the center supports more than 75 research scientists from the departments of physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, engineering mechanics, chemical engineering and others. The center also works with state and national industries in support of Nebraska's overall economic development. A new building to house the center is under construction near 16th and W streets, planned for completion in late 2011.

Nebraska's Science Cafes share science research with the public from faculty at UNL and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Part of a grassroots movement, the objective is to engage the public in conversations about science with a casual, open format, using plain language, inclusive conversation and a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for people with little or no science background - or for those with science expertise looking to discover more about new topics.

- Terese Janovec, Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience