Millennium Cafe

Jan 23 2018
3D Printing, Humanitarian Engineering, and Social Entrepreneurs

The Penn State Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program (HESE) is focused on how engineering and social enterprise mix to solve humanitarian problems. The talk will show what the program is and where it is going, and highlight an example of how we are working to allow nearly anyone anywhere to use 3D printing to bring medical necessities to rural health care facilities. 

Parallel Universe

Join us for a performance by Penn State's professors of flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon. This ensemble will present a program that will include a fugue by the renowned J.S. Bach and music from Parallel Universe, a newly-commissioned-jazz-inspired work by Los Angeles-based composer Gernot Wolfgang.  This diverse program will appeal to all listeners.

Jan 16 2018
Beautiful Figures for Beautiful Data: Please Don’t use Default Settings

Charts and graphs are crucial tools for communicating scientific data. Unfortunately, it's easy to make charts with awkward, confusing, or otherwise ineffective design choices.  In this talk, I’ll review simple design concepts that can make the difference between mediocrity and an effective, compelling, and inspiring visual aid.

Breaking the Mechanobiology Barrier: How Cells Respond to Mechanical Stimuli in the Native Tissue Environment

Over the last decade there has been a growing interest in the importance of mechanical stimuli on cell behavior. Passive physical properties (i.e., alignment, stiffness) and actively applied mechanical stimuli (i.e., stretch, fluid shear stress) modulate fundamental aspects of cell function.  However, most mechanobiology studies investigate isolated cells on artificial substrates, which lack the complicated 3D structure and composition of the cellular “niche” found within the native tissue. Using tendons as a model system, I will discuss my efforts to measure tissue mechanics at the cellular length scale and understand the cell response to mechanical stimuli during tendon degeneration and development.  The goals of this work are to identify the causes of tendon pathology, discover novel therapeutic options, and direct the design of biomaterials that can recapitulate the behavior of native tissue.

Jan 9 2018
MRI Update: Recent Achievements and Future Excellence

As we begin the New Year we’ll take a moment to celebrate some recent accomplishments and look towards the future: winners of the 2017 Rustum and Della Roy Awards will be announced, new faculty will be highlighted, and I’ll provide an update on some MRI strategic initiatives.

Converting Small Amounts of Freely Available Energy into Electricity

There are many forms of energy around us: light, heat, vibrations, wind, electromagnetic fields, fluid flow, waves, organic waste, etc. At large scale, many of these energy sources already play a significant role in powering our society and are projected to become dominant contributors by 2040. On the smaller scale, exciting scientific and engineering challenges must be overcome to harness these energy sources. Success in developing devices that cost-effectively convert these very small magnitudes of energy into electricity will lead to massive infrastructural changes ranging from buildings to transportation to communication. In this talk, I will provide a brief summary on the progress made in developing these small scale devices and discuss the potential for hybrid systems that combine living and artificial components to capture environmental energy.

Dec 5 2017
2D Materials: Physics When the World is Flat

Some materials have a naturally layered structure whose properties can change drastically when reduced to only a monolayer or two, graphite thinned to graphene being one of the best known examples, but there are a host of others. Developing new 2-dimensional materials and studying the interactions between various materials when stacked on top of each other is one of the most promising research areas today in physics and material science. The 2DCC-MIP at Penn State was established by the National Science Foundation to develop these new materials and make them freely available to the general scientific community via a national lab like model, where anyone can write a proposal to obtain or develop these new materials.

Regenerative Medicine and Additive Manufacturing: More than just BioPrinting

Regenerative medicine demonstrates great potential for development of tissues and organs through the application of stem cells, biomaterials and soluble factors.  This talk will explore the interaction between stem cells and materials and how additive manufacturing technologies can be used to drive the formation of bio-instructive scaffolds capable of directing the differentiation of stem cells.

Nov 28 2017
Measuring the Nanoscale Mechanical Properties of Bone, Graphene, Cells, Hydrogels, Plastic and Everything in Between

In partnership with numerous faculty, departments, and colleges; the Materials Characterization Laboratory (MCL) recently installed a state-of-the-art nanomechanical & nanotribological testing system, the Hysitron TI 9800 Triboindenter.  This talk will highlight the breadth of new functionality this instrument brings to campus – which includes variable temperature measurements (up to 800C), the ability to study samples in their fully hydrated state, nanoscale DMA, nanoscratching, and nanoindentaion to name but a few.

Visualizations: Bridging Art and Science with Data

As the Information Age has transitioned into the Big Data Age we’ve neglected to translate all data into knowledge.  Novel approaches are required to express data in more artistic and visual expressions and the Huck Data & Visualization group aides in the transformation of static graphics to dynamic visualizations or standard models into sophisticated art ventures.  We will highlight new ways that technology can aid faculty and students in showcasing their research to new audiences with better clarity, control, and charisma.

Nov 21 2017
No Cafe: Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov 14 2017
Naturmort-in-Infra-Red: Nanoscale Needle in a Haystack

Among the nanomaterials that emerged over the past few decades, one-dimensional needle-like carbon nanotubes (NT) attracted the attention of physicists for a number of unique properties. Discovery of functionalization of NTs with DNA strands placed them at the interface between biotic and abiotic systems and opened wide perspectives for using NTs as sensing and imaging agents at the nanoscale.

Roots of the Second Green Revolution

The world needs crops with better root systems that can produce food with less water and fertilizer. Understanding how to optimize root structure and function entails complex computational, mathematical and biophysical challenges.

Nov 7 2017
What I Talk About When I Talk About the Glass Transition”

The glass transition, i.e., the gradual arrest of a supercooled liquid into the glassy state, is often described as a “mystery” due to the complicated nonequilibrium physics involved in describing glass-forming systems.  Notwithstanding these difficulties, a comprehensive fundamental understanding of the glass transition is of critical importance for many practical high-tech applications of glass, including optical fiber, glass substrates for liquid crystal displays, and chemically strengthened cover glass for electronic devices.  In this presentation, I will review recent progress that offers an unprecedented level of understanding of the glass transition and the glassy state, as well as the ability to design new industrial glasses starting at the atomic level.

Protecting Ourselves from Emerging Diseases

Emerging infectious diseases, like Ebola, spillover from wildlife to humans and cause mortality and concern. We know almost nothing about the spillover process and so we are unpacking and revealing the processes involved. One example is given by the Hendra virus, an infection  that spreads from bats to horses and then people in eastern Australia. To solve these issues globally, we have formed a new laboratory called the Applied Biological Research Lab (ABRL) and seek collaboration.

Oct 31 2017
Serendipitous Formation of Carbon-Sulfur Composites: How a Geoscientist Became Involved in Battery Design

Science and innovation can often send you in unexpected directions. In this talk, I will describe how a failed attempt at growing sulfur-oxidizing bacteria from the Arctic lead to the discovery of a new process to produce micro-structured carbon-sulfur composites that might be used as cathode materials for next-generation Li-S batteries. I will discuss the exciting discoveries, roadblocks, and victories of this project, along with some future goals and avenues for collaboration.

Convergence of Materials and Life Sciences – NIH and Imaging Focused Seed Grants 2018-2019

The Materials Research Institute, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, and partner Institutes and Colleges are seeding teams focused on securing NIH funding.  We are now accepting proposals for NIH-focused research and imaging studies that take advantage of new analytical capabilities and insights at the interface of physical and life sciences.  Teaming is required, mentoring of junior faculty is highly encouraged, and the deadline for proposal submission is January 12, 2018.  Come hear additional details of this new seed funding program.

Oct 24 2017
Precision Farming: How Intelligent Sensing Systems are Shaping Future Agriculture

How can we produce more food sustainably?  Precision agriculture is an emerging area that involves using data and technology to optimize farm management practices.  Sensing systems with machine learning capabilities can increase productivity in agricultural production systems.

From there to here…Atomic Things are Everywhere

Recent advances in cryo-EM have brought us into a new era where atomic structures are feasible.  Successful cryo-EM consists of three components: sample preparation, data collection, and processing.  Penn State has invested in a state of the art temperature and humidity controlled prep room to prepare samples.  Penn State has recently acquired a new Titan Krios microscope that collects atomic resolution data.  We are equipped with the computer resources to process cryo-EM data into high resolution maps.  So what do you need to get an atomic resolution map? Can you take advantage of this revolutionary new technique?  Will your sample work? This talk will present the criteria for a good input sample required for an atomic resolution 3D structure.

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