Hernandez-Viezcas, 32, can be found doing his plant and nanoparticle research inside a nursery-like structure at UTEP.
"Nanoparticles are used in many things, and eventually also end up in our soil and water," Hernandez-Viezcas said.
The soybean-nanoparticle study was selected as one of the best papers for this year out of all 40 American Chemical Society journals.
Others who contributed to the study findings are UTEP doctoral chemistry student Cyren Rico; Jose Peralta-Videa, Ph.D., a UTEP chemistry research specialist; and scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
University officials said the National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the study.
"Nanoparticle research is currently the most studied branch of science with the number of uses of nanoparticles in various fields," said Dr. Ananya Mandal, in an article published Friday by news-medical.net. "The particles have wide variety of potential applications in biomedical, optical and electronic fields."
Mandal said nanoparticles can range in size from 100 to 2,500 nanometers, and were used in the 9th century in Mesopotamia when artisans used these to generate a glittering effect on the surface of pots. A nanometer is a unit of measure that is equal to one billionth of a meter.
Some nanoparticles occur in nature, such as those produced by the friction of ocean waves or volcanoes. Others are manmade, such as those caused by vehicle emissions.
Mandal said in her article that some nanoparticles are used to detect proteins, to probe DNA structures, in MRI studies, in gene therapy and to destroy tumors with drugs or heat.
Other recent studies show that UTEP scientists are making their mark on the scientific world:
-- Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology published "Ultrafine particle levels at an international port of entry between the U.S. and Mexico: Exposure implications for users, workers, and neighbors," based on a recent study led by researcher Hector Olvera about air pollution from certain kinds of nanoparticles at the Bridge of Americas. -- Dr. Igor C. Almeida, a biological sciences professor, and Alexandre F. Marques, a postdoctoral researcher, developed a vaccine that can protect against the potentially mortal chagas disease. More work is needed before the vaccine is usable by humans.
Roberto Osegueda, Ph.D., vice president for research and sponsored projects, said the university has succeeded in attracting grant money and gifted researchers who, along with others, are conducting top-notch work.
"Research expenditures have risen steadily over the past decade, laying the groundwork for UTEP now to be ranked second in federal research expenditures in the UT System and second among Emerging Tier One institutions in the state," Osegueda said.
"UTEP's success in attracting external funding provides opportunities for UTEP students to learn by participating in research that makes a difference.
"Most UTEP students work while attending school, and on-campus positions in research labs have proven an effective means of expanding student income, promoting deeper learning, strengthening retention and graduation, reducing time to degree, increasing first-generation student confidence and motivation to purse graduate degrees, and improving job placement and career success."
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