The Millennium Café

Exchanging ideas and challenges

Jan 19 2021
“Plant Motion as Inspiration for Biomimetic Materials Systems and Structures for a Greener Technology in the Anthropocene” – Part I in the Living Materials Series

During the last decades, biomimetics has attracted increasing attention from basic and applied researchers from various disciplines and industries to include building construction. Novel methods for analyzing and simulating the form-structure-function-relation on various hierarchical levels allow fascination insights in multi-scale mechanics of biological materials systems, and new production methods enable for the first time the transfer of many outstanding properties of the biological role models into innovative biomimetic products for reasonable costs. This is shown for three examples based on plant motion, including bio-inspired self-repairing materials and façade shading systems.

“Examining our Daily Energy Use and Carbon Emissions – What you can and Cannot Control” – Part I in the Energy University Series

Do you know how many kWh your home uses every day or the energy content of a gallon of gasoline? How do those amounts of energy relate to 2000 Calories you eat every day, and the amount of CO2 you emit? The world needs to reduce CO2 emissions by ~ 1000 gigaton (Gt) of carbon over the next 30 years, but what can you do about that on your own? How does a Gt even make sense in your own life in terms of your energy sources and consumption? The first step understanding these numbers is to quantify the energy you use every day for your home, commute to work, entertainment, and travel.  The second step to make this relevant to climate change is to translate that energy use into CO2 emissions that have meaning to you. In this talk I show how we can easily frame all these numbers based on a bottom line: the energy in food we eat for one day, and how much CO2 we release from eating that food. When energy is expressed using these numbers, we can see how important using a gallon of gasoline is relative to energy use for our home, travel, and all the energy use and carbon emissions that go into just putting that food on the table. 

Jan 12 2021
“Infusing Drawdown into Research, Education, & Outreach: Impactful Examples at the Water-Energy-Food Nexus”

Reversing global warming through Drawdown strategies provides a unifying and motivational theme under which faculty, staff, students, and community members can work together across traditional boundaries, providing inherent opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration in a variety of sustainability contexts. In this talk, learn how Penn State is infusing Drawdown into research, education, and outreach programs across the university and around the world through our Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus strategic initiative. The presentation will conclude with an overview of the Drawdown Scholars Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, and share how faculty, staff, and students can become involved in 2021. 

“3D Bioprinting the Tumor Microenvironment”

The tumor microenvironment represents the blood vessels, immune cells, stromal cells, and the extracellular matrix, surrounding a growing tumor, all of which work in conjunction to aid tumor growth. Thus, understanding these complex tumor-stroma interactions is key to developing effective and targeted anti-cancer therapies. This talk will elucidate how 3D bioprinting can be applied to recapitulate this dynamic microenvironment to study various hallmarks of cancer. 

Jun 9 2020
“The Pell Lab’s Role in Penn State’s Pandemic Response”

Eva J. Pell ABSL-3 Laboratory for Advanced Biological Research (Pell Lab) has been playing a key role in Penn State’s response to emerging infectious diseases. With a unique combination of in vitro, insect, and animal research capabilities, Pell lab has played a key role in responding to Avian Influenza in 2015, Zika virus crisis in 2016-17, and the current COVID-19 pandemic. With several academic and industry partnerships, current investigations include diagnostics, ant-viral drug discovery, animal models of disease, and host responses to SARS-CoV-2. We are also facilitating surface testing and validation of sterilization methods using various corona virus surrogates and SARS-CoV-2. My talk will briefly introduce Pell lab, describe the ongoing COVID-19 research, and discuss potential opportunities for collaborations.

“2020 PPG Elevator Pitch Competition Finals!”

45 Huck & MRI Graduate Students competed in a Virtual Elevator Pitch Competition on Tuesday June 2nd. These students received training from Penn State Faculty members Andy Gustafson, Senior Lecturer, Smeal College of Business (Everybody Needs a Virtual Elevator Pitch) and Marcy Milhomme, Assistant Teaching Professor for Continuing Education in Communication Arts and Sciences (Effective Presentation Skills for Virtual Elevator Pitches). 9 industry scientists from PPG, Dow, Corning, and Murata judged the first round of competition. The top 5 pitches will be presented during the Café and YOU will help select the winners via online polling. All 5 finalists will receive prizes. Please join us on June 9th and vote for your favorite pitch!

Jun 2 2020
No Millennium Cafe 6/2

There will be no Millennium Cafe on June 2, but join us next week on June 9 as the finalists from the 6th Annual PPG Pitch Competition give their pitches about their research. There will be live voting to determine the winner!

May 26 2020
No Millennium Cafe 5/26

There will be no Millennium Cafe on Tuesday, May 26. 

May 19 2020
“Resilience in Times of Crisis - Lessons from the First 100 Years in Penn State History”

Please join us at 10:00 am on 5/19 for a unique edition of the Millennium Café where we’ll welcome Roger Williams and Clive Randall to discuss “Resilience in Times of Crisis  - Lessons from the First 100 Years in Penn State History.”  As we navigate the challenges and opportunities brought about by our current pandemic, we’ll reflect upon past examples of PSU leaders and strategies, many within the sciences, which brought the University through multiple global crises.  In doing so, the foundations were laid for our transition into a world-class university. This will not be a presentation but rather a dynamic conversation where you will have the opportunity to participate.

May 12 2020
No Millennium Cafe 5/12

There will be no Millennium Café on May 12.

Next week is the 8th anniversary of the Millennium Café! Join us on May 19 for the first “Café Conversation” – to discuss “Resilience in Times of Crisis: Lessons from Penn State History.”

May 5 2020
“Center for Medical Innovations: Developing Commercial Pathways for Translational Research”

While each medical technology follows its own development path, there are common challenges that must be addressed to minimize risk and secure funding/investment. Learn what programs and resources are available to Penn State Faculty & Staff to advance medical technologies toward commercialization.

“2020 PPG Elevator Pitch Competition is going Virtual!”

The PPG Elevator Pitch Competition is evolving given the nature of today's social distancing restrictions. One's ability to quickly and efficiently communicate a concept in a virtual environment has recently become important. We believe that this is a skill that must be learned and practiced. To facilitate the process, we will be holding a virtual elevator pitch competition on the morning of Tuesday, June 2nd. You will "pitch" the importance of your research before judges from industry. There will be 2 virtual training sessions the week of May 11th, and the competition is open to current graduate students only. The top 5 winners will receive $750/$500/$250/2 consolation gift cards of $50 respectively.  If this is of interest, join the Millennium Café this week to hear about the competition and you can also look for details on the MRI home page. Generous support for this program is provided by The PPG Foundation.

Apr 28 2020
“Nanoscale Patterning on Complex Interfaces with Directed Plasma and Irradiation Synthesis”

Patterns in nature driven by far-from-equilibrium processes can result in self-organized structures that can dictate function and behavior. This talk will give a brief summary of our group’s passion for self-organized patterns and our ability to synthesize them on any class of material. A wide variety of complex materials from porous refractory alloys that are self-healing to natural biopolymers for tissue engineering applications will be highlighted as I cover some general aspects of nanopatterning, irradiation synthesis, and their potential applications. In-situ surface characterization and computational tools that enable nanopatterning design will also be briefly presented.

Apr 21 2020
“Development of Antiviral Drugs Inspired by Viral Capsid Structures”

Understanding the structural basis of viruses is a key to learn how they work & how to eliminate them. This is true for Covid-19 as well as other viruses. In this talk, I will show how we apply a structural approach integrated with computational methods to identify compounds that could potentially develop into antiviral therapeutics. The virus example used in the presented study is Coxsackivirus B3 (CVB3), an enterovirus and a leading cause of viral myocarditis in humans.

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