Rice: Wiess School of Natural Sciences

Professional Master's Program: An Unconventional Career Track

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Prof. Master's Program
6100 Main Street, MS-103
Houston, TX 77005
713.348.3188  tel
713.348.3121  fax


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Initial Funding by the
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation


"Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that will require special business acumen to carry new technologies from research to manufacturing. The Nanoscale Physics track is composed of students who already have a strong technical background. The program enhances their problem-solving, business and communication skills, positioning them to effectively introduce game-changing technologies into the world of business." 

 – Kyle Kissell, Ph.D. Director, Technology Development, NanoRidge

The Nanoscale Physics program prepares students for a career in nanoscience by combining a strong component in quantum theory, which governs the behavior of systems at the nanoscale, with the study of practical nano- and mesoscale devices. This provides the student with the knowledge required to successfully navigate the emerging field of nanoscale science and nanotechnology.  In addition, a year-long course in methods of experimental physics is offered to ensure that students obtain the advanced practical skills valuable to the nanotechnology industry.

Rice is a well-established center for nanotechnology, with researchers active in several departments outside the physics core. The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology includes among its faculty Nobel Laureate R. Curl, as well as esteemed faculty from the physics and astronomy, chemistry, electrical and computer engineering, civil and environmental engineering, chemical engineering, bioengineering, computational and applied math, and mechanical engineering and materials science departments. It focuses on interdisciplinary studies in many areas of nanoscale science including carbon nanotubes, nanoshells, and nanobiology.

The Center for Biological and Environmental Nanoscience (CBEN) at Rice fosters the development of this field through an integrated set of programs that aim to address the scientific, technological, environmental, human resource, commercialization, and societal barriers that hinder the transition from nanoscience to nanotechnology.  The Center's research focuses on investigating and developing nanoscience at the "wet/dry" interface.

International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON)

Rice's current and prospective industrial partners have strongly encouraged CBEN to go beyond the traditional structures of an industrial affiliates program to create a more inclusive and international group.  Their enthusiasm has prompted us to develop a program that welcomes not only corporate members, but also government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other academics.  This broader partnership is vital to our core mission of creating a sustainable nanotechnology industry that requires meaningful and organized interactions among stakeholders.

At their request we have launched the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON). The mission of this organization is to assess, communicate, and reduce environmental and health risks associated with nanotechnology while in turn maximizing its benefits to society. To realize this vision, ICON seeks participation from a diverse group of parties including industry, academics, government officials, and representatives of environmental organizations. Its activities span technical research in nano-cell interactions, policy projects such as development of nanomaterial standards and terminology, and social studies of risk perception and communication. By pooling the resources of the nanotechnology industry, governments, and academia, ICON can cost-effectively provide a wide range of synergistic projects that serve the interests of all stakeholders.  There is widespread enthusiasm for this organization, which will create new knowledge of use to government and industry researchers and serve as a central clearinghouse for information related to health and environmental aspects of nanomaterials.   By catalyzing the formation of ICON, we are taking the first, early steps to ensuring that CBEN creates a legacy that lives beyond its ten-year NSF funding cycle.

Faculty members involved in the Professional M.S in Nanoscale Physics Program include:

F. Barry Dunning, Track Director, Physics and Astronomy
Douglas A. Natelson, Track Advisor Physics and Astronomy
Andrew R. Barron, Chemistry
Mary Purugganan/Liz Eich, PSM Professional Communication
Jason H. Hafner, Physics and Astronom
Thomas C. Killian, Physics and Astronomy
Kristen M. Kulinowski, Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology
Peter Rossky, Dean of Natural Sciences
Frank R. Toffoletto, Physics and Astronomy


Last updated 10/14 dkbeck