Millennium Cafe

May 23 2017

Wide and Small-Angle X-ray Scattering for Polymeric and Biomaterials

Elucidating the structure and dynamics of polymeric and hybrid materials is an under explored scientific area which needs to be addressed to solve various challenging problems in material and biological sciences.  Wide and Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (WAXS/SAXS) techniques allow probing the structure of materials at a wide range of length scales. The new scattering techniques (WAXS/SAXS/GIWAXS/GISAXS) recently installed at the Materials Characterization Lab (MCL) are now available to support a diverse cross-section of researchers investigating a wide range of systems including polymers and biomaterials. The objective of this talk is to briefly describe the capabilities of the new technique and to promote collaboration among researchers in different disciplines.

The Millennium Café: What’s Next?

The Millennium Café began on May 22, 2012 as an experiment to increase the frequency of constructive collisions between historically disparate disciplines.  Since that first Tuesday nearly 20,000 curious researchers have consumed >3500 gallons of top shelf coffee and 35,000 assorted pastries in the spirit of interdisciplinary research.  The Café experiment has been successful - new research collaborations are frequently catalyzed and the Cafe enhances an already excellent culture of interdisciplinary research at Penn State.  Join us as we celebrate and brainstorm ideas to further enrich the Café over the next five years.

May 16 2017

Walking Like a Robot: Predicting Human Falls using Modeling and Simulation

The ability to accurately predict falls risk could allow individuals at risk to receive appropriate gait retraining before they fall and injure themselves. Using methods from the field of legged robotics, I have developed a predictive simulation of human walking that can be used to investigate falls risk.

The Pulse of the Earth: Rates and Dates of Tectonic Processes

Plate tectonics provides a unifying theory to explain the motion of rigid plates on Earth’s surface. However, the rates at which tectonic forces flux heat and mass through plate boundary zones (i.e. subduction zones and rifts) are still poorly understood. In this talk, I will summarize recent work from our research group on the use of diffusion theory applied to crustal minerals to constrain rates of plate boundary deformation and metamorphism

May 9 2017

Combining Multimodal and Computational Neuroimaging Approaches to Understand Spontaneous Brain Activity

The brain during the resting-state is never truly at rest, but is characterized by highly organized brain activity. While resting-state brain activity measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely utilized to map functional connectivity and network organization of healthy and diseased brains, its underlying neural basis remains largely unknown. We combined multimodal neuroimaging techniques and computational approach to understand the neurophysiological correlates and behavioral relevance of resting-state brain activity.  

Beyond the Bench: Science Policy at Penn State

Science and public policy are woven tightly together. Policy makers craft laws that affect researchers, and they rely on science to understand the impacts of the regulations and laws they are deliberating. As part of this process, scientists play a vital role in communicating their research directly to policy makers and constituents. The Penn State Science Policy Society steps in at this juncture to build a foundation for graduate students, post docs, and faculty to unravel the many layers of science policy, a network to connect scientists and organizations immersed in the policy world, and an avenue to bring our community, policy makers, and researchers together to foster discussions about science.

May 2 2017

Engineering Crystal Structure and Elemental Composition in Nanomaterials via Cation Exchange

The ability to selectively form one crystal structure among several options in a polymorphic system is an important goal in solid-state synthesis, as the arrangement of constituent atoms in a solid helps to define the properties of the material. Using nanoscale cation exchange, we have begun to develop a rational approach for selectively obtaining metastable polymorphs of transition metal sulfides.

Biology and Physical Properties Interact During Oral Texture Perception

Quantitative and reliable measures of perceptual phenomenon can be obtained via psychophysical methods that date back to 1860. In the mouth, food sensations result from physical and chemical stimuli that activate biologically determined mechanisms. This talk will discuss physical and biological factors involved in the perception of chocolate and pudding.  

Apr 25 2017

Electroactive Polymers (EAPs) for Origami-Inspired Smart Structures

Origami-inspired engineering is an emerging field of engineering where principles of origami are coupled with self-folding mechanisms to realize smart structures that are otherwise difficult to achieve. In this talk, I describe the utilization of electroactive polymers (EAPs) to actuate different origami-inspired smart structures ranging from simple bending-folding to origami-inspired action figures such as flapping of butterfly wings, catapult launching a projectile, and assembly of cubic box and pyramid from a flat sheet. Applications of this concept includes deployable space structures, biomedical devices, soft-robotics etc.

A Kaleidoscope of Color: Studio Glass at the Palmer

Interest in contemporary glass on the part of collectors, galleries, and museums has grown exponentially in recent years, more than a half century after the founding of the studio glass movement in the early 1960s. Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, the Palmer Museum of Art is poised to become one of the preeminent destinations for studio glass on the East Coast. Dr. Robinson will provide a brief overview of the current glass exhibition, A Kaleidoscope of Color, which will be on view at the Palmer through April 30.

Apr 18 2017

Evan Pugh and His Vision for Penn State: The Model Agricultural College for America

Penn State's founding president, Evan Pugh (1859-64), was a European-educated scientist who established the first successful agricultural college in America, based on a rigorous scientific curriculum. With the Civil War raging in the background, Pugh quickly built the Farmers' High School into the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, fought for the Morrill Land-Grant College Act and won the land-grant designation from the Pennsylvania Legislature. Pugh was a visionary leader and champion of scientific agriculture on a national scale.


Probing Porosity Evolution During Weathering of Bedrock within the Appalachian Piedmont”

Physical and biogeochemical processes work together to break down unweathered, impermeable bedrock into a more porous media, which releases nutrients and opens new pathways for gases and fluids to move through the subsurface. Weathering processes control long-term atmospheric pCO2 and pO2, as well as release nutrients that were previously unavailable to life on Earth. Porosity and permeability of the bedrock are typically first order controls on the movement of fluids through the subsurface and thus, chemical weathering. In this project, we use neutron scattering techniques to evaluate how nano-porosity and pore connectivity during weathering in different rock types within a localized region in the Appalachian Piedmont. 

Apr 11 2017

Piezoelectric Adjustable X-ray Optics

The next generation of X-ray telescopes are aiming for improved image resolution and increased collection areas in order to allow astronomers to see further into space with more detail than ever before. By using a piezoelectric thin film to precisely control the curvature of X-ray mirrors piezoelectric adjustable optics offer a promising avenue for achieving this goal.  The adjustable mirrors are multilayer devices that rely on the successful integration of glass, metal, metal oxide and polymer components, to meet the application’s demands. As a result, the project is highly collaborative and multidisciplinary, providing a wide range of scientific and engineering hurdles to overcome.

Leveraging People, Process, and Data to Advance the Large-scale Deployment of Sustainable Structural Materials

The overarching goal for this research is studying, designing, and validating the use of sustainable cementitious materials in infrastructural applications. The initial use case addresses the need for a large-scale deployment of building envelopes that are more resilient to extreme weather events and also have enhanced durability, higher moisture and thermal resistance, lower cost, and reduced environmental and economic impact compared to conventional construction materials. This is motivated by the fact that cementitious materials, especially in the form of standard concrete mixtures, are the most commonly used man-made construction materials on earth and, due to the use of cement as a binder, it accounts for about 4% of the CO2 emissions worldwide.

Apr 4 2017

Revealing the Biochemistry of Soluble Aggregates in Diseases

Protein misfolding and aggregation leads to a variety of diseases, termed as protein misfolding diseases. It is now appreciated that amyloid toxicity results not necessarily from insoluble aggregates or fibrils, but primarily from soluble, misfolded conformational species that accumulate in cells during the aggregation cascade of amyloidogenic proteins. My talk outlines our efforts to understand the biochemical nature of this species and its mechanism of action in disease initiation and progression.

Detecting Flaws During Metal Additive Manufacturing

Metal-based additive manufacturing is realizing unprecedented growth as industry and government begin to recognize the potential benefits it may offer to designers, fabricators, and logistics professionals.  GE made waves when they produced its first AM fuel nozzle in June 2015.  The AM-enabled fuel nozzle cuts weight, improves performance, and consolidates an assembly of 20 parts into one.  Since then, GE has bought two of the leading metal AM system producers in the world, has opened up at $39M AM Center north of Pittsburgh, and has created a new business unit focused solely on AM.  Despite explosive growth, the industry is still lacking a robust, cost-effective means of identifying (and correcting) flaws generated during the build process.  My talk describes some sources of AM flaws, and outlines our efforts to sense and identify them.

Mar 28 2017

Protecting Lithium Metal Anodes with Sulfur-rich Polymers

Li-ion batteries can be improved by leaps-and-bounds if the graphite anodes used in state-of-the-art batteries today are replaced with lithium metal.  However, Lithium metal easily reacts with electrolytes to form a solid-electrolyte interface (SEI). When lithium metal anodes are charged and discharged, lithium dendrites that can cause short circuits grow on the metal surface, a major battery safety issue.

Seamless Architecture

Conventional architecture relies on complex joints to bring materials together. For instance, a metal frame is typically used to mechanically fasten glass inside a masonry wall, requiring an array of smaller joints to create the necessary thermal, fluid, vapor, and acoustical barriers and insulating layers, each introducing added complexity, cost, and labor. Imagine instead walking along a masonry wall that seamlessly transitions to glass – from opaque, gray, heavy, and textured - to transparent, glassy, light, and smooth.

Mar 21 2017

Brass Quintet and the Jazz Idiom

One of the most modern of “traditional” ensembles, the brass quintet has shared a close relationship with jazz.  We will be performing two standard jazz brass quintets and discussing how the popularity of jazz helped bridge the gap between the jazz and classical genres of music.

Materials that Live

Research: Living Liquid Crystals.   A new computational model and a set of experiments show how defects in the liquid crystal can concentrate or deplete the bacteria, suggesting a novel method for manipulating microbial populations.

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