National Graphene Association holding first conference in Nashville later this year

National Graphene AssociationBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The first commercially-focused graphene conference ever held in the United States is coming to Nashville in late October.

The “Graphene Innovation Summit and Expo,” set for October 29-31 at the Music City Center, is being coordinated by a two-month old organization named the National Graphene Association (NGA). Its new Executive Director is Zina Jarrahi Cinker, a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University whose research was focused on the material.

NGA itself was founded in Mississippi by Ed Meek, a well-known former administrator at the University of Mississippi and former Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Publishing. The association’s headquarters is in Nashville because that is Jarrahi Cinker’s home, and she still serves as a visiting scientist at Vanderbilt.

She says that an important goal of the summit and expo is to offer as many networking and educational opportunities for attendees as possible.

“We are going to put a lot of emphasis at the conference on connecting people,” Jarrahi Cinker explained.

The overall goal of the association and its inaugural conference is to drive innovation and promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies in the U.S.

As noted in previous articles about the material on, graphene has amazing properties – 10 times as strong as diamonds, 200 times stronger than steel, able to carry more than a thousand times the current that copper can, and the most flexible substance ever measured. The challenge: the production costs that would allow it to be widely used in a variety of products.

The target audience for the October event is anyone in the graphene value chain.

“The conference is not just for companies already into graphene, but it’s also for entrepreneurs who want to incorporate the material into their products,” Jarrahi Cinker explained. “We want to help entrepreneurs who don’t know anything about graphene (determine) if it could enhance the properties of their products.”

In that regard, she is referring to graphene nanoplates that come in a powder form and can be easily used as an additive to other materials, bringing those properties to the enhanced product.

The program is still evolving, Jarrahi Cinker says. One of the speakers already identified is Knoxville’s Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer of Angel Capital Group, the organization that led the Series A round for Oak Ridge-based General Graphene. Others include Kari Hjelt

Graphene Flagship in Sweden; Elena Polyakova of Graphene 3D Lab in New York; and Anirudha Sumant of Argonne National Laboratory.




“We are reaching-out to people to identify program opportunities,” she adds.

For more information, individuals can contact Jarrahi Cinker at

Stay connected with us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Article ideas and other suggestions should be sent to Include the name and contact information (phone and email) for follow-up.