The NISE Network is conducting several multi-year research projects looking at different aspects of the Network that have the potential to inform the field of informal science education. Whereas the evaluation studies conducted by the NISE Network measure progress toward NISE Net goals, the research studies are designed to generate findings that will inform and advance the broader field of informal science education. Below is a description of these projects. For more details, contact members of the research team.


1. Museum-Scientist Partnerships:

This project examines the nature and impacts of the development of partnerships between informal science institutions and practicing scientists.  We are interested in learning how museum-scientist partnerships create useful and meaningful representations of complex and cutting-edge scientific and socioscientific concepts; how these representations underpin the development of informal education materials, experiences and approaches that are used by museum exhibit designers and program staff; and how new products and practices resulting from museum-scientist partnerships are used in supporting and expanding the NISE Network. A case study follows the formation of the Nano & Society partnership between museum educators and scientists through its inception to the four regional workshops given on the topic. Another study, the network analysis of survey data, provides insightful information about connections between organizations within the NISE Network.

  • Timeline: 2011-2015
  • Ways to get involved:
 This research project is actively seeking partners within the NISE Network to collaborate on this work who currently are or have historically been working collaboratively to produce representations that become part of exhibits, materials, designed experiences, and other products in the network. There are a variety of ways for you to help us:
(a) Let us know if you are available for an interview;
(b) Allow us to arrange a focus group with you as a participant; (c) If you are forming a new museum-scientist partnership to develop a product, allow us to attend your working sessions
  • For more information:
    • Tina Stanford, SRI,
    • Timothy Podkul, SRI,

2. Organizational Change:

This study examines whether and how organizations affiliated with NISE Net experience widespread and long-lasting change in their practices. Previous studies from formal education and other fields have shown that networks can serve as a powerful impetus for change as they enable the introduction of new practices and ideas into an organization through frequent interactions with other similar organizations. This study looks at partners and explores the conditions that facilitate or impede the adoption of NISE Net-related knowledge and practices within these organizations.

  • Timeline: 2011-2015
  • For more information:
    • Steven R. Guberman, Science Museum of Minnesota,
    • Marta Beyer, Museum of Science,
    • Stephanie Iacovelli, Museum of Science,
    • Christine Reich, Museum of Science,

3. Public Learning and Decision Making:

This project focuses on exploring the different ways NISE Net can engage visitors in learning and decision making about nano. Currently, this project is studying how visitors use, interact with, and talk about the different exhibit components within the Nano mini-exhibition to learn about the different areas of the NISE Network content map. In particular, the team will research how visitors’ understandings of relevance, or connection to their lives, develops within the exhibition.

  • Timeline: 2011-2015
  • For more information:

    • Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, Museum of Science,
    • Gina Svarovsky, Science Museum of Minnesota,
    • Stephanie Iacovelli, Museum of Science,
    • Amanda Svantesson-DeGidio, Science Museum of Minnesota,

4. Tracking NISE Net’s Real World Impact:

This project examines media coverage and online discourses about nanotechnology, with a particular focus on NISE Network-related work, through tracking media content, blog posts, and discussions on various social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and Twitter). We use combinations of commercial software packages, including Lexis Nexis, Vantage Point, and Crimson Hexagon, to track large amounts of communication offline and online in a real time fashion.

First, we track the volume of coverage in traditional media channels and discussions on various online platforms. Second, we monitor genuine and spontaneous responses on nanotechnology-related topics among concerned publics in online environments. This project tracks sentiment, expressed with different levels of certitude, and thematic content such as risk-benefit assessment, of nanotechnology-related topics, especially NISE Network activities. Third, we examine the relationship between NISE Network events across different regional sites and the traffic of relevant discussions on both traditional and online media channels. For instance, this project will track online traffic surrounding particular sites before and after events such as NanoDays or other NISE Network coordinated activities, and explore the relationship between the tracked traffic and the corresponding geographical origins of online discussion (such as Tweets).

  • Timeline: 2013-2015
  • For more information:
    • Dietram A. Scheufele, University of Wisconsin at Madison,
    • Leona Yi-Fan Su, University of Wisconsin at Madison,