December 16, 2005

UAlbany Awards First Ph.D. Degree Combining Nanotechnology and Biology

By: by Karl Luntta, Director of Media Relations; Steve Janack, Director of Communications


 Albany, NY - December 6, 2005 - A groundbreaking partnership between the University at Albany - State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and its Department of Biological Sciences has resulted in the award of a Ph.D. degree in biology that for the first time includes a concentration in nanotechnology.

Dr. Oliver T. Tang will be receiving his degree during the UAlbany December graduation ceremony. This first-ever collaborative degree between the Department of Biological Sciences and CNSE includes a focus on nanoscale sensor development for biological applications.

Dr. Kermit Hall, President of the University at Albany, said: “It is very exciting to bestow this new doctoral degree on this talented scientist.   The University is proud to be a leader in pioneering this interdisciplinary academic field and believes that the field of nanobioscience will catalyze enabling innovations with far-reaching implications in medicine and health care.”

“The presentation of this first nanobioscience doctorate marks another historic milestone for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering,” said Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros, vice president and chief administrative officer of CNSE. “We congratulate Dr. Tang on this accomplishment, which is a great example of UAlbany’s leadership in the interdisciplinary scientific fields of the 21st century.”

Nanotechnology is a cross-disciplinary scientific platform that involves manipulating matter at the atomic scale and holds great promise for innovation in such fields as chip making, fuel-cell development, drug delivery and sensor technology. At the same time, it has spawneda scientific and technical revolution based upon the ability to systematically organize and manipulate matter on the nanometer length scale, with applications in a variety of fields, including health care.

Dr. Tang’s Ph.D. thesis, entitled “Cantilever-based Mass Sensor for Biological Applications,” was designed to create microscale sensors for the detection of antigen-antibody pairs through the measurement of minute mass changes in the cantilevers using optical interferometric methods. The molecular-level interactions of these pairs form the critical link from nano to micro to macro scale. Co-advisers for the project were Professor David Shub of the Department of Biological Sciences and Professor James Castracane of CNSE.

“Oliver is the first of our doctoral students in the Department of Biological Sciences to do his Ph.D. thesis research under the supervision of a faculty member of the CNSE,” said Professor David Shub. “Nanotechnology is likely to play an important role in biological and biomedical science research in the future, and our University is fortunate to have the resources to provide training in this area.”

“The awarding of this degree is both a credit to the hard work and dedication of Dr. Tang and a great example of the benefits to be gained through such an interdisciplinary combination of cutting-edge technologies and traditional sciences,” said Professor Castracane. “We believe that this initial successful partnership between the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the Department of Biological Sciences will lead to similar collaborations in the future.”

Dr. Tang’s project was originally designed to develop a method for low-cost, mass production of computer chips to be used in the detection of tuberculosis. The findings of his research may also create a platform to allow development of similar processes to be used in the diagnosis of other diseases.

Dr. Tang is currently considering opportunities involving both post-doctoral work and private industry.

About CNSE. The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany-SUNY is the first college in the world devoted exclusively to the development and deployment of innovative nanoscience and nanoengineering concepts.  CNSE is located in the most advanced research complex of its kind at any university in the world. The $3 billion, 450,000-square-foot complex attracts corporate partners from around the world and offers students a one-of-a-kind academic experience, and it is growing. The complex is also home to CNSE’s New York State Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics.  The CNSE complex, financed through more than $500 million in governmental support and over $2.5 billion in corporate investments, houses the only pilot prototyping facilities in the academic world for the two standard sizes in computer chip design, the 200-millimeter (or 8-inch) wafer, and the 300-millimeter (or 12-inch) wafer.In 2005, CNSE had 115 U.S. and worldwide partners, including some of the world's largest semiconductor and semiconductor-related tool manufacturing companies.  For more information, visit the CNSE Web site at

The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit Information about the Department of Biological Sciences can be found at For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit