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Rice UniversityCBEN
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology

Undergraduate Programs

CBEN’s undergraduate educational development programs are designed to engage a diverse population of students in nanotechnology and to effectively prepare them for rewarding careers in the field of nanotechnology. We do this through: offering Nanotechnology Research Experience for Community College Students, sponsoring undergraduate outreach opportunities with inner city high school students, developing new courses in nanotechnology and augmenting existing courses.

Nanotechnology Research Experience for Community College Students 

Nanotechnology Research Experience for Undergraduates (NREU)

NREU Poster Session

The Purpose of this program is to broaden the participation of Americans in S&E careers by recruiting community college students into a 10-week summer internship in a nanotechnology laboratory at Rice University. Research areas in which students might become involved include:
  • the synthesis and characterization of new nanomaterials (carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, gold nanostars)
  • application of nanomaterials to air and water purification
  • application of nanomaterials in medical imaging, diagnosis, and treatment
  • studying nanophotonics and plasmonics

To study new materials, students will use of state-of-the-art tools such as atomic force microcopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and nanolithography.

Who can apply? Students enrolled in Houston Area community colleges such as Houston Community College, San Jacinto Community College, Lonestar College, Galveston Community College, College of the Mainland, and Wharton.

What are the requirements? It is suggested applicants complete two semesters of calculus, chemistry and calculus-based physics prior to the internship. They will also need to have two faculty letters of recommendation and an interview on Rice University’s campus.

What is the Stipend? Students will be paid $6000 over 10 weeks for the summer program.

Where is the application and what is the process? Applications will be due on March 15. Interviews will be held in April and the program will start at the end of May and run through the beginning of August.

2011 NREU Application Period has ended  

Undergraduate Outreach Opportunities with Inner City High School Students

In March 2008, CBEN and Rice Student Volunteer Program (RSVP) hosted a three-day workshop for high school juniors. The goal of the workshops are to help economically disadvantaged students fill out the College common application form, fill out FASFA forms and write a college essay. We plan to expand this program and offer more workshops in 2008 and 2009.

If you are interested in volunteering please see or contact

If you are interesting in having your high school participate, please contact

BIOE 112

BIO 112: Freshman Seminar

Undergraduate Curriculum

  • CHEM 325/ANTH 235Nanotechnology: Content and Context: Drs. Kristen Kulinowski and Christopher Kelty were awarded a grant from the NSF to develop and implement a new course on nanotechnology in 2004. The course, entitled "Nanotechnology: Content and Context," introduces the essential scientific and technical content of nanotechnology and the essential ethical, political and social context of nanotechnology research through a one-semester multi-disciplinary undergraduate course. Science/engineering majors and social science/humanities majors alike benefit by learning about both the specific technology and the social impacts and cultural meaning of science and technology in the same class. Students engage directly both with working nanoscientists and the heated public debate over its potential impacts on society. They are asked to acquire a technical understanding of nanotechnology (e.g., the methods of visualization, experimentation, manufacture, and the evaluation of what is and is not technically feasible) as well as a nuanced understanding of scientific and technical research as a social and political process (issues of ethics, regulation, risk assessment, history, funding, intellectual property, controversy and conflict). For more information please see
  • BIOE 112 Nanobiotechnology Freshman Seminar Drs. Jennifer West and Phil Wingert designed this course so that freshmen could have exposure to nanotechnology with biological applications early in their college studies. Both science and nonscience majors at Rice University participated in this seminar course. In 2007, there were 13 freshmen enrolled in the class along with 2 seniors. The course was designed to be an accelerated active learning process where students participated via hands on activities and interactive discussions. Students learned about the interdisciplinary nature of the field through case studies, via faculty seminars, by using new tools to explore the nanoscale, performing tissue culture experiment in bioengineering laboratories, going on field trips to local biotechnology startup companies and biomedical research laboratories, and giving presentations to the class.

Augmenting Existing Courses

  • Nanosorter

    Nanosorter from BIOE 451-2

    Bioengineering Design Course (BIOE 451-452) CBEN sponsors at least one team every year to design and build new technologies. During 2007, CBEN sponsored the design and development of “Nanosorter: A High Throughput Nanosorting Device” by Team Tiny Tools and “A Portable Low Cost Optical Whole Blood Immunoassay System Using Nanoshell Technology” by Team Phoenix. Team Tiny Tools ended the 2007 school year by winning the top bioengineering design project award (shared with another team). Team Phoenix built a device to rapidly and simply detect proteins in whole blood that is less expensive than traditional immunoassays (i.e. ELISA). The use of this devise to diagnose the early onset of infections could advance both the treatment and the containment of disease and be used where typical immunoassays are inconvenient or impractical such as in space flight or in developing countries . On 12/1/2007, Team Phoenix was awarded the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) Fall Semester "Top Design Team" scholarship after receiving the Best Poster, Best Oral Presentation, Best Written Paper, Best Patch Design, and 2nd Best Project Model Awards. See
  • CHEM 375 Advanced Module in Nanochemistry. This new half-semester course, inspired entirely by CBEN research, introduces students to synthesis and structure of nanoparticles and their physical characterization via introduction to three microscopy techniques. It was first offered in the Fall 2002 semester by Prof. Vicki Colvin and had an enrollment of nine students, which demonstrates strong student interest in the subject. Dr. Margaret Hennessy is the current instructor.
  • BIOE 441: Advanced Bioengineering Laboratory. This course is required of all seniors majoring in bioengineering. We have developed a module where students use metal nanoshells and their associated photothermal phenomena to induce tissue welding. Students learn about the nanostructured materials and optical interactions, and then also use this as an opportunity to use their skills in biomechanics to evaluate the efficacy of nanoparticle-assisted laser tissue welding. Further modules centered on other CBEN research will be developed over the next few years. Piloted Spring 2003.
  • CEVE 401: Introduction to Environmental Chemistry. In this course students learn the principles and significance of measurements used to assess environmental quality. Hands-on measurements of both classical titrations, and modern instrumental methods of measuring both bulk and trace level pollutant concentrations are employed. Results of CBEN research is included as appropriate examples of concepts discussed.