Andrew Maynard

RISK BITES: Creating Advance Materials that are Safe by Design

August 7, 2013

If you’ve been watching Risk Bites for the past six weeks, you’ll have a pretty good idea what advanced materials are, and what might make them potentially risky. The final video of the Advance Materials Series explores the one questions that hasn’t been addressed so far – are we smart enough to create advanced materials […]

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RISK BITES: Do novel materials present novel risks?

July 29, 2013

Do novel materials present novel risks?  Novelty is a big part of advanced materials as it leads to materials with potentially new or enhanced properties.  But does the resulting novel functionality automatically mean that the materials also present new and unusual risks?  This week’s Risk Bites video explores the relationship between novelty in behavior and […]

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RISK BITES: What Makes an Advanced Material Harmful?

July 22, 2013

Over the past four weeks, I’ve explored what advanced materials are, and why so many people are so excited about them on the YouTube channel Risk Bites.  But what about the downsides?  Do new materials automatically come prepackaged with new risks? Exploring the potential ways new materials can cause harm is important.  If you want […]

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Using plausible applications to explore the responsible use of engineered nanomaterials and other advanced materials

July 18, 2013

How do you identify potential health risks associated with engineered nanomaterials and other advanced materials, and develop strategies to reduce or avoid them? Last week, thirteen experts participated in a workshop at the Royal Society in London to explore how speculative yet plausible case studies on advanced materials and their potential uses can provide insight on emergent […]

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Synthetic Biology and the “Proactionary Principle”

July 11, 2013

In yesterday’s piece on the Guardian’s Political Science blog, Steve Fuller – author and professor of social epistemology at the University of Warwick –  questions whether the time has come for policy-makers and scientists to move on from the precautionary principle and adopt a proactionary principle as a means of promoting calculated risk-taking. The proactionary principle can be […]

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Which “Precautionary Principle” are you talking about?

July 10, 2013

This week on the Political Science blog hosted by the Guardian newspaper, a number of leading thinkers are presenting different perspectives on the Precautionary Principle.  The perspectives are wide-ranging and often provocative – but they do serve to stimulate an important public dialog on an often misunderstood and misused concept. In Tuesday’s piece, Tracey Brown […]

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Color me Beautiful, or Color me Boring? Let us know what you think!

May 31, 2013

We’ve been experimenting with color on the Risk Bites videos over the past few weeks – sprinkling in a few non-black whiteboard markers to liven up the illustrations.  And now it’s crunch time – we want your opinion: Does adding a bit of color make the videos more effective, or should we revert back to […]

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Talk to the Hand: Risk Bites, six months on

May 23, 2013

Six months ago, Risk Bites launched as a somewhat quirky YouTube experiment in science communication. Twenty-seven videos on, how are things going? Risk Bites was originally conceived as a way of pulling some rather cool insights into the science behind human health risks out of dusty halls of academia and into the real world.  Watching […]

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Carbon nanotubes as a potent cancer promoter – new data from NIOSH

March 14, 2013

Cross-posted from 2020 Science: On Monday, the National Institute for Occupational Safety released new data on the potential role multi-walled carbon nanotubes play as a cancer-promoter – a substance that promotes the development of cancer in the presence of a carcinogen. In the study, mice were injected with methylcholanthrene – a cancer initiating agent – […]

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Top Ten Emerging Technology Trends for 2013

February 14, 2013

The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has just published its annual list of the top ten emerging technology trends. Based on expert assessment from council members and others, the list provides insight into technologies that have the potential to have a significant economic and social impact in the near to mid […]

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At the frontiers of the science of health risk – five areas to watch

January 1, 2013

This week’s Risk Bites video takes a roller-coaster ride through some of the hottest topics in risk science. Admittedly this is a somewhat personal list, and rather constrained by being compressed into a two and a half minute video for a broad audience.  But it does touch on some of the more exciting frontier areas […]

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How Risky is your Breakfast?

November 6, 2012

Professor David Spiegelhalter is the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. For more information about his work on risk, uncertainty and communication, please visit his website – Understanding Uncertainty.  Understanding how the numbers add up in relation to risk can help us deal with our own uncertainty, as […]

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Open access academics: Experiments with YouTube, the Science of Risk, and Professional Amateurism

October 18, 2012

Cross-posted from 2020 Science YouTube intrigues me. Having been dragged into the YouTube culture by my teenagers over the past two years, I’ve been fascinated by the shift from seemingly banal content to a sophisticated social medium. But what has really grabbed my attention is the growth of YouTube as a unique and powerful platform […]

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Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?

September 24, 2012

“Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?”  It’s the sort of question most parents have had to handle at some time – especially if you have pretentious kids who delight in telling you how pure pee is!  It’s also the subject of the first post in this semester’s Mind The Science Gap […]

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EPA’s risk assessment system needs an overhaul: Gray and Cohen

September 17, 2012

Quantitative Risk Assessment is hardly a topic that is likely to be seen trending on Twitter or going viral on YouTube anytime soon.  But it is important.  As I teach my students, how we assess and address human health risks affects almost every aspect of our lives.  Beyond the obvious benefits to our health and […]

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Early heads-up: new Graduate Certificate in Risk Science and Human Health

June 1, 2012

This fall, graduate students at the University of Michigan School of Public Health will be able to sign up for a new Graduate Certificate in Risk Science and Human Health.  The certificate is designed to provide students with a better understanding of science-informed and socially responsive approaches to health risks that are applicable in multiple […]

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Andrew Maynard taking over as Interim Chair of the UM Environmental Health Sciences department

May 31, 2012

From June 1 I will be taking up the position of Interim Chair in the School of Public Health Environmental Health Sciences Department, as well as continuing to direct the Risk Science Center.  This is a great opportunity to build on the work of the previous chair Howard Hu and prepare the department for my […]

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Does science literacy increase polarization in risk perception?

May 31, 2012

It’s very easy to assume that people who don’t make smart decisions on risks are – not to put too fine a point on it – stupid (“smart” here usually meaning “the decision I think is right”).  But as many researchers in the decision analysis field will attest to, it’s more complicated than that.  This […]

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Communicating about communicating science at the National Academies

May 23, 2012

I‘ve just spent the last two days at the National Academies of Science listening to a long strong of folks talk about the Science of Science Communication. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me as I wasn’t a speaker and so could just kick back and listen – but I did get […]

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Think Design – an alternative take on nanotech (in 11 minutes!)

May 23, 2012

A few weeks ago I was asked to give a “TED style talk” on nanotechnology for the University of Michigan Environmental Health Sciences department 125th anniversary. What they got was a short talk on “thinking small”: The other talks in the series are also worth checking out – covering topics as diverse as epigenetics, cancer, […]

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