University of South Carolina NanoCenter  

“The USC NanoCenter is the University’s focal point for science and engineering studies of nanometer-scale structures, their unique properties, and their integration into functional units. It fosters multidisciplinary research and education efforts involving faculty whose combined expertise spans the disciplines of a comprehensive research university, including the arts and sciences, engineering, and medicine, as well as other professional schools.” (Please see http://www.nano.sc.edu)

 The NanoCenter is focused on research in five strategic areas:

  1. Polymer Nanocomposites
  2. Nanoelectronics
  3. Nanobiotechnology
  4. Nanocatalysis
  5. Scholarly work in the societal, epistemological and ethical dimensions of nanotechnologies.


Dr. Fletcher, while functioning as the Industrial Liaison, was involved in three aspects of the early formulation of the NanoCenter strategy: the development of management systems, website design and development, and the development of relationships with industry.

Management Systems Development

During the early period of the NanoCenter, Dr. Fletcher was intimately involved with the management team that was setting and implementing the short- and long-term strategies for growth in the research focus areas. He developed the first position descriptions, organization chart, and policies and procedures manual. He also developed the first two comprehensive annual reports that described all the activities of the Center in the areas of membership, budget, grants, research and publications.

In addition to his responsibilities as Industrial Liaison, Dr. Fletcher had major responsibility for public communications, offering numerous presentations on the nature of nanoscience and nanotechnology in courses at the University, for public service organizations and at corporate research meetings.

Website Development

Dr. Fletcher was instrumental in the development of that portion of the website that allowed industrial partners to access proprietary information that related to their specific topic of interest. The website allowed the partners to search a reports database, view videos, and post new information of specific interest to other partners participating in the same areas of research. The website was an integral part of the university/industry center concept described below.

Development of Relationships

Dr. Fletcher, in cooperation with industrial partners such as Mitsubishi, Milliken, Michelin, Honeywell, Invista (formerly of DuPont), Wellman, Nan Ya Plastics and others involved in the production of PET (polyethylene teraphthalate or polyester), developed the form of a cooperative center that would function at the cutting edge of polymer nanocomposite research. The challenge was to structure the relationships in such a way that those who supported specific research could benefit directly from the intellectual property created. The Center thus had three layers of participation: Center Research, Project Research, and Sponsored Research. The Center Research would be paid for by membership dues and the results made available to all members.  Research topics would be proposed by the faculty center members and voted on by the industrial members. Proposals for Project Research would be submitted by the industrial members and participation made available to all the members, both faculty and industrial. Those, industrial members who chose to participate would fund the research and have access to any intellectual property that might result. Faculty participation might be augmented by resources outside the university in order to obtain the best and most expedient results. The focus of Project Research was competitiveness and meaningful intellectual property. Sponsored Research was simply that research that only attracted one industrial participant. Any intellectual property that was generated by this research was made available only to that participant.

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