Archive for the ‘awards’ Category

Winner of Best Paper of 2018 for Environmental Science family of journals – Dr Korin Wheeler

Congratulations to the winners of the Best Paper of 2018 for the Environmental Science family of journals:

Matthew R. Findlay, Daniel N. Freitas, Maryam Mobed-Miremadi and Korin E. Wheeler,
Machine learning provides predictive analysis into silver nanoparticle protein corona formation
from physicochemical properties
, Environmental Science: Nano, 2018, 5, 64–71

To find out more about this exceptional research work, we conducted an interview with the paper’s principal investigator, Dr Korin E. Wheeler, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Santa Clara University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from New College of Florida, a PhD in bioinorganic chemistry from Northwestern University, and worked in proteogenomics as a post-doc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Her independent research at Santa Clara University focuses upon assessing the diversity of nanomaterial transformations from a biochemical perspective and developing new approaches for characterization at the nano-bio interface. Her lab’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Research Corporation for Science advancement. In addition to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environmental Science Journal’s best paper award (2018), she has recently been awarded the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award (2018).

What is the story behind this work?

Initially, we worked to establish a robust method of proteomic characterization of the protein corona around engineered nanoparticles (ES:Nano in 2014). As we worked through the initial data, it was clear that the proteomics database held more information than we were able to digest and deserved further analysis. Here, we’ve applied machine learning tools, which are particularly useful when making predictions with a lot of data collected on complex systems. Now, we can begin to parse which features of the engineered particle, reaction conditions, and biophysical features of a protein lead to the formation of the protein corona population. With machine learning tools it is feasible to imagine tackling the diversity of coronas that could form around nanomaterials in the environment. Moreover, we may be able to gain universal insights into features that mediate formation of corona populations.

Why is it important to understand protein corona formation on ENMs?

The protein corona alters the engineered properties of ENMs, giving them a new biological identity and biochemical reactivity. With an understanding of the protein corona on ENMs, we can better predict toxicity, improve targeting of nano-drugs, and ease design of nano-enabled diagnostics. More broadly, in environmental applications, protein corona studies can inform the use of nano-enabled remediation strategies, design of nanomaterials for agriculture, and prediction of nanoparticle fate in an ecosystem.

What led you to pursue this field of research?

I really enjoy the combination of basic scientific inquiry that leads to environmental impacts. Research in a very interdisciplinary field like environmental nanoscience is also really satisfying because there are so many paths to solving a problem and so much to learn.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

We are excited to bring this to the next level with a large scale proteomics data set to strengthen the model and apply it to a breadth of materials and conditions. With a strong model, we can increase the relevance of protein corona work for environmental systems, where the variations in proteins and conditions are seemingly infinite. If modeling is successful, then we could possibly eliminate the need for experimental characterization in every condition.

What are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

The field is in its nascent stages. We have established the landscape of transformations that engineered nanomaterials undergo in  the environment, but are only beginning to establish a molecular level picture. One of the next phases of investigation includes insights into the transformations over a material’s lifetime in the environment. Currently, we’ve snapshots of nanomaterials as age and transform in various systems. There are some really interesting studies coming out that look at multiple environmental variables, or exposure scenarios where we can begin to build a moving picture to assess the important features that contribute to nanomaterial transformations and fate in the environment. These insights can help lead to some next generation materials for the agri-sector, which is really exciting.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The obvious challenge we face is the complexity of environmental systems and the fact that the research sits between multiple disciplines. Given the many variables and interdisciplinarity, we are constantly pushed to communicate better and design new methods to tackle complex problems. I find that the most difficult aspects of a project can also bring the most joy. For example, I chose to work at an institution with primarily undergraduate researchers. Sure, it likely slows us down a bit, but at this stage in their career, they are fearless! No one told them that interdisciplinary work is hard, they simply see it as an opportunity. When I become overwhelmed, I just walk into my lab and the students remind me to approach it all with an open mind and to focus on learning.

What are the next steps for developing this work further?

As a communication, this paper highlights the utility of a random forest classification to tackle the prediction of protein corona populations. The predictive power of this approach, however, depends upon the quality, breadth, and depth of our database used in modeling. We are working with others to develop guidelines for data reporting in an attempt to enable interrogation of datasets across manuscripts (for example, see this recent piece). We are also expanding the dataset to include other organisms, particles, and conditions. We can’t do it all alone though. If others have data on protein enrichment within the corona, we’d be delighted to connect, expand the dataset, and improve this tool!

Read the Best Paper of 2018 for the Environmental Science family of journals by Korin E. Wheeler et al. here.

To learn more about the Best Papers of 2018 in the Environmental Science family of journals, check out the Editorial here and view the nominees collection by clicking the button below.

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Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Nano in 2017

We would like to highlight the Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Nano in 2017, as selected by the editorial team, for their significant contribution to the journal. The reviewers have been chosen based on the number, timeliness and quality of the reports completed over the last 12 months.

We would like to say a big thank you to those individuals listed here as well as to all of the reviewers that have supported the journal. Each Outstanding Reviewer will receive a certificate to give recognition for their significant contribution.

Professor Arturo Keller, University of California Santa Barbara

Dr Cyrill Bussy, University of Manchester

Dr Dana Kuehnel, UFZ Centre for Environmental Research

Dr Jose Peralta-Videa, University of Texas at El Paso

Dr Laura  Sigg, Eawag

Dr Matteo Minghetti, Oklahoma State University

Dr Navid Saleh, University of Texas at Austin

Dr Patricia Holden, University of California Santa Barbara

Professor Xiangke Wang, North China Electric Power University

Dr Zhang Lin, South China University of Technology

We would also like to thank the Environmental Science: Nano board and the Environmental Nanotechnology community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

If you would like to become a reviewer for our journal, just email us with details of your research interests and an up-to-date CV or résumé.  You can find more details in our author and reviewer resource centre

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2016 SNO Emerging Investigator

The SNO Emerging Investigator gives recognition to emerging scientists and engineers working in the area of Sustainable Nanotechnology.  Environmental Science: Nano is pleased to announce the recipient of this year’s honor, Dr. Elijah Petersen, Research Scientist of the Biosystems and Biomaterials Division, Cell Systems Science Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland USA.

Dr. Petersen’s research focuses on the biological interactions of nanomaterials in the environment and the characterization of nanomaterials in complex environmental matrices.  His early research on the interactions of carbon nanomaterials with soil biota was innovative and groundbreaking. Currently he is a leader in the characterization and detection of nanomaterials. Dr. Petersen is the recipient of a 2007 Fulbright Award that enabled him to work in Finland and as National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at NIST. His service and leadership have been outstanding having served on a number of advisory panels including as co-chair of the Ecotoxicology Community of Research for the US-EU Bridging NanoEHS efforts. He is also involved in the construction of ISO methods related to environmental nanotechnology, as well as reviewing OECD protocols for nanotoxicity testing.

Editor-in-Chief Vicki Grassian says that Dr. Petersen was selected because of “his pioneering research contributions and his commitment and leadership to the wider Sustainable Nanotechnology community”. Elijah adds “I am deeply honored to have received the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Emerging Investigator award. It has been exciting to be involved in nanoEHS research for over a decade while this field has developed. While substantial advances in nanoecotoxicity research have been made during this period, additional work is still needed to develop robust quantitative methods for nanoparticles in complex matrices and to improve the reproducibility and comparability of nanotoxicology measurements among laboratories. I look forward to conducting research on these topics in future years to support the sustainable development of nanotechnology.”

Many congratulations from the Environmental Science: Nano team!

Also of interest: Take a look at Dr Petersen’s recent Environmental Science: Nano paper
Feasibility of using a standardized Caenorhabditis elegans toxicity test to assess nanomaterial toxicity
S. K. Hanna, G. A. Cooksey, S. Dong,  B. C. Nelson, L. Mao, J. T. Elliott and   E. J. Petersen
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, 3, 1080-1089
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00105J

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