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Arnold School of Public Health

CENR director Jamie Lead builds nano collaborations with Chinese University

September 28, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, 

Jamie Lead, professor of environmental nanoscience in the department of environmental health sciences and director for the South Carolina SmartState Center for Environmental Nanoscience and Risk (CENR), was recently invited to serve as an adjunct faculty member at Shanxi Agricultural University. During the five-year, funded appointment, Lead will collaborate with other researchers, supervise students and help the university develop a ‘nano' group dedicated to agricultural issues.

Shanxi Agricultural University, which is located in Taigu, China, is establishing a program in nanotoxicology research and asked Lead to share his expert guidance in developing research areas and ideas. He will be working with three faculty members and several doctoral students initially, although this work is likely to extend. Their collaborations include discussing new ways to synthesize nanoparticles for environmental purposes, potential impacts to crop health and possible food chain transfer to humans.

“The first area of research is around the nanotoxicology of crop plants, such as cabbage and soya, looking at cerium dioxide and zinc oxide,” Lead says. “We will investigate new synthesis methods, physio-chemical measurements in soil waters, exposure pathways, soil chemistry, plant uptake and translocation. The possible effects on humans through eating plants and animals are an area of concern as well.”

CENR has grown in collaborators, resources and influence since it was established by Lead in 2012. The SmartState Center now has six faculty members and more than 20 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows who specialize in soil, water, atmosphere and social science all related to the nanoscale. The team has published more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and has six awarded or submitted patents.

“Professor Lead’s collaborations with Shanxi University fit well with the Arnold School’s growing relationships in research and student mentoring with top Chinese Universities,” says Arnold School associate dean for research Alan Decho. “There is a large reservoir of potential studies that can center on environmental effects on human health, which can be cooperatively conducted and of interest to both of our universities and countries.”

With a focus on nanoscience, CENR has two main goals. First, they look at how manufactured nanoparticles affect environmental and human health and explore ways to minimize risks from these contaminants. Second, they research ways to harness the powerful capabilities of nanoparticles in order to maximize their environmental benefits. These innovative methods and uses include oil and metal contamination cleanup, reducing the negative impacts of fungi on crops, and managing environmentally persistent free radicals and viruses.  

Originally from the United Kingdom, Lead is an internationally-renowned expert in the field of nanotechnology. He leads conferences and organizes special issue supplements for various journals and is the editor-in-chief for the journal, NanoImpact.

His work with CENR has not only resulted in improvements to environmental and human health in South Carolina, but he has been traveling around the world to educate others about nanoscience, learn from other experts and build collaborations. Along with active research collaborations throughout Europe and in India, his latest partnership with Shanxi Agricultural University provides further evidence of Lead’s outreach efforts to advance the field of nanoscience.


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