Parviz Famouri

Professor, West Virginia University

Parviz Famouri

West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
United States


  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering May 1990, University of Kentucky
  • MS Electrical Engineering May 1986, University of Kentucky
  • BS Electrical Engineering August 1982, University of Kentucky
  • BS Applied Mathematics May 1981, Kentucky State University

Work Focus: 

“I teach and conduct research in Electrical & Computer Engineering and related fields.”

Advice to Students:

“Make sure you learn your basic sciences.  Even when you are faced with complex technical challenges, it is always your basic understanding that helps you make a decision to move forward.”


 – West Virginia University


Q: When did you first find that your career path focused on nanotechnology?
I studied electromechanical systems through out my MS and PhD studies.  I realized the importance of micro/nano technology earlier in my career and about 15 years ago I concentrated my research on nano/micro-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS).

Q: What current nanotechnology applications are you working on?  
My current work primarily focuses on bio-molecular motors for transport of molecules, protein etc. on inorganic surfaces.  The molecular motor system that we are employing is called myosin II that are extracted from skeleton muscles of rabbit. They are building blocks of muscles in animals and are about 30 nano-meters in height.  On surfaces coded with myosin and in the present of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), the fuel, myosin moves actin filaments.  Materials such as micron size beads can be attached to actin filaments and move around an inorganic surface for drug delivery and molecule analysis for lab-on-a-chip.

Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about working with nanotechnology?
Due to their small size, the ability to see molecular motors in action is limited so you have to rely on imaginations.

Q: Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you’ve worked on has positively impacted the world?
The ability to steer actin filaments that are riding on myosin molecular motor eventually would pave the way for future transport in nano-scale especially when we developed synthetic nano-motors and machines.  As some researchers have suggested, the road systems did not drastically changed as human converted from horses to automobiles, understanding transport at nano scale would help us tremendously when we develop our own synthetic nano-machines.

Q: What do you think is the single greatest impact nanotechnology has had on the world thus far?  
Definitely the promise of potential development of many everyday use items to create a better future for mankind.

Q: Please give an example of what you envision nanotechnology applications leading to in the future.
 The applications of targeted drug delivery system, the ability to analyze blood etc. accurately and quickly in lab-on-a-chip, and definitely more efficient use of energy, better cloth and infrastructure materials.

Q: Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
 Since in nano scale biological, organic and inorganic materials can all be manipulated, the ability to be able to work with interdisciplinary team is essential. 

Q: If you work more as a team, what are some of the other areas of expertise of your team members?
I currently work in a team of engineers, chemists, physicists, and biologists.

Q: Did your university training help you in your nanotechnology work?
 My fundamental understanding of basic physic, chemistry and biology has helped me tremendously to understanding complex bio-nano systems.

Q: Do you have a mentor?  Did you in your college years?
My teachers have always been my mentors ever since I started the first grade. Some of my college professors had a profound impact on me and without them I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still focus on nanotechnology applications?
Yes, I would still focus on nanotechnology because it’s one of the most important frontiers in science.

Q: If a high school or college student was interested in nanotechnology, what advice would you give them to help prepare take on those roles?  
Make sure you learn your basic sciences.  Even when you are faced with complex technical challenges, it is always your basic understanding that helps you make a decision to move forward.

Q: What other advice do you have for pre-university students?
I advise all pre-college students to get involved in various programs that are available in nanotechnology education.  There are many programs for junior high and high school students out there, you just have to look for them.