The Millennium Café

May 11 2021
No Millennium Cafe 5/11

Please join us on May 18 for the 7th Annual PPG Pitch Competition Finals and listen to a speaker from PPG. 

May 4 2021
Opportunities in Data-Driven Materials Science

The relationship between material processing, structure, and properties is challenging to understand and even harder to predict because it is non-linear, high-dimensional, and results from physical phenomena at many scales. While traditional materials design has relied on human intuition to interpret patterns in known materials and infer new ones with similar (hopefully improved) properties, emerging data science tools offer new strategies to expedite materials design. My group is working to gather these strategies into a common framework which can be applied across many different materials science problems. In this talk, I will share some vignettes illustrating our initial progress and discuss the challenges ahead.

The Plastics Paradox

Plastic is an amazingly versatile material, whose ever increasing use combined with its durability has led to an ecological crisis. I will highlight some recent work on plastic pollution within freshwater and human consumables. Addressing these challenges requires interdisciplinary expertise and I’m interested in making new connections within Penn State.

Apr 27 2021
Using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to Inform Engineering Decision-Making

With new technologies and innovations coming out each day in a transition to a sustainable economy, we need systems analysis tools to help prioritize research and development targets. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been widely applied in a variety of industries to quantify the environmental impacts of a product, process, or service across the entire supply chain.  In this talk, I will share how we link engineering metrics with sustainability analyses including LCA (for environmental impacts) and techno-economic analysis (for economic viability) under uncertainty, and I invite you to consider how the application of LCA can elucidate sustainability implications of technological innovations and design decisions in your research.

Polymers for Controlling Cellular Function Using Gas Molecules

Gaseous signaling molecules such as nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) have recently attracted growing attention due to their regulatory functions in the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems. My group is developing polymer-based delivery systems for these gas molecules to explore the therapeutic potential. In this talk, I will discuss how polymeric material design is being used to delivery of these gaseous molecules and impact biological functions in cardiomyocytes and vascular endothelial cells.

Apr 20 2021
Emerging in situ + Nanoscale Characterization Capabilities @ the MCL

Ever advanced analytical capabilities are required for the Materials Characterization Laboratory to support the research from >45 PSU departments each year. In this talk we will briefly introduce a few capabilities on the horizon for the MCL: nanoscale infrared spectroscopy - Bruker nanoIR, TEM environmental gas cell- Protochips Atmosphere, and novel surface analysis capabilities.

Mapping Cellular and Biomolecular Heterogeneity in the Tumor Microenvironment via Imaging ToF-SIMS

New approaches are required to understand the spatial heterogeneity within a tumor microenvironment (TME) if we are to elucidate information regarding the reprogramming mechanisms leading to immunosuppression and tumor progression. I will briefly discuss a new ToF-SIMS methodology for comprehensive lipidomic and metabolomic profiling of different types of individual cells on frozen-hydrated tissue sections. This new approach makes it is possible to integrate the spatial multi-omics profiling (metabolites, lipids and proteins) in the same tissue at single cell level, leading to new insights into the role of lipid reprogramming and metabolic response in normal regulation or pathogenic discoordination of cell-cell interactions in a variety of tissue microenvironments.

Apr 13 2021
The Embodiment of Water Insecurity – Part III in the Water, Public Health, and the Environment Series

Water is imperative for health, nutrition, and overall well-being. Yet, 884 million people worldwide lack basic access to improved drinking water sources. While progress has been made on this front, this talk will address the many ways water insecurity manifests and is experienced across the world and in the US. Further it will describe how water insecurity becomes embodied and affects a range of human health outcomes, beyond just water-borne illnesses. 

How 3D Printing Technology Developed for Mars can Address the Housing Crisis on Earth - Part IV in the Additive Materials & Manufacturing Series

World population growth and fast urbanization are such that we will need to build over the next twenty years as many houses as we have built in the past two thousand years. The talk will describe how innovative design and construction technologies developed to overcome this situation on Earth were used to design a habitat to support the human exploration of Mars. It will also show how the lessons learned from this Martian effort may impact the way we design and make buildings on Earth. 

Apr 6 2021
Teaming Up to Address Cell Therapy Technical Challenges

Cellular medicine is growing rapidly. However, there are many technical challenges related to cell manufacturing, delivery, and tracking. In this talk, I will show how my lab uses simple engineering and biomaterials to improve cell culture efficiency. I will also introduce the newly established Sartoris Cell Culture Facility at Huck Institute and call for collaborations from engineers, biologists, and materials scientists to address challenges in cell manufacturing.

Peering Inside Metallic Alloy Processing and Performance

Understanding how metallic alloys are processed and perform is one of the oldest scientific pursuits, and over the past two thousand years, a tremendous amount of empirical knowledge has been developed regarding how we can make and use these materials. Surprisingly, this has all been achieved without the ability to `watch’ how these materials evolve as they are being processed and used in-service. However, a new generation of X-ray techniques at synchrotrons (particle accelerators) are allowing us to look inside these materials in-situ, providing new insights into how to better use existing alloys and design new materials.

Mar 30 2021
Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure: A NSF 2026 Big Idea – Part II in the Living Materials Series

Current sand shortages symbolize the onset of numerous global challenges within our immediate future - our world has started to run out of resources. In this talk, I aim to inspire you to ponder how our materials, buildings, and infrastructure can take the giant leap to become ‘resource independent.’ Framed with the research challenges of building on Mars, I invite you to consider how the small steps we undertake in extraterrestrial construction can lead to giant leaps to decarbonize our built environment on Earth.

Put Your Science to Work with the Center for Energy Law and Policy

Penn State’s Center for Energy Law and Policy supports interdisciplinary teams from across Penn State that want to use their joint scientific expertise in the service of complex problems in energy, regulation and society. The process of working across many domains is complicated, and how researchers can get their work noticed within the policy system is sometimes daunting - but the potential to have real impact is tremendous. Come learn about how you can work with the Center for Energy Law and Policy, and how we harness the depth of expertise from our university to improve real-world decisions.

Mar 23 2021
Novel Batteries that Generate Electricity from Low-Grade Waste Heat – Part III in the Energy University Series

Tremendous amounts of low-grade thermal energy are lost to the environment through industrial practices because we lack viable recovery methods. Simultaneously, the intermittent nature of renewable energy has created a need for new sources of electricity that can be accessed quickly during times of need. Thermally rechargeable batteries are a promising new option that may help us solve these seemingly unrelated problems and improve our electric grid's sustainability. I will present some ideas from my laboratory to develop new thermally rechargeable batteries that have performances comparable to those recharged with electrical energy.

Using Wastewater as an Indicator of Community Physical and Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic – Part II in the Water, Public Health, and the Environment Series

Analyzing wastewater provides an unbiased view of the physical and mental health of communities. By analyzing wastewater for the novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2), prescription medicines, and over-the-counter medications, we can provide valuable information regarding the well-being of an entire community, without the need to interview, survey, or test individual people. We are currently partnering with four wastewater treatment plants in Pennsylvania to understand how the presence of the virus and related pharmaceuticals have changed over the course of the pandemic and hope that the information generated from this project will provide community leaders with the information they need to make informed, near-real time decisions in response to any increases or decrease in viral genome counts detected in the wastewater.

Mar 16 2021
Tips for Organizing Your Research Using MS Teams

The Microsoft Office Suite has come a long way since Word/PowerPoint/Excel. The Teams collaboration interface is a powerful tool that can be used to organize your research group and keep track of all the details associated with all research activities. I will be talking about how faculty and other researchers can consider organizing their work around projects using the communication, project planning, lab notebook, document repository, and everything else associated with keeping track of information with your research groups all in one place. It will take a shift in thinking, but will provide a powerful return on investment. There are some tips and tricks on getting started that will be shared and lessons learned from more than a year working in the teams environment.  

Soft, Mechanical Materials that Think

Autonomous, engineered materials composed of soft matter could assist society in a wide variety of ways that are outside the scope of microprocessor-based robots. A major technical hurdle is creating a soft matter realization of an information processor that can process sensory stimuli according to logical operations, thus guiding reactions. This presentation will describe how we engineered soft materials that process all decision-making operations resulting from mechanical stimulus, and will invite collaborations to pursue the first fully autonomous, engineered materials that emulate the fundamental functions of lifeforms.

Mar 9 2021
How Do We Build a Healthy Society?

Students of history know that social destabilization and violence can emerge with too much polarization among the people. In this introduction to the dialogue method developed over two decades at World in Conversation, Laurie Mulvey (Director) will briefly discuss the "how" of building a healthy society, in particular the crucial role of dialogue facilitators. In her view, facilitated dialogue is not a space for correcting other people’s beliefs and narratives, nor is the goal to develop empathy. It is a space for thinking together--with the very people whose ideas we reject.

Sustainability Initiatives Aimed at Environmental Footprint Reduction – Lessons Learned from the College of EMS – Part III in the Climate Drawdown Initiative @ PSU Series

Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant completes an annual system-wide Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions inventory, but because of its broad scope, the inventory does not provide unit-level detail to be used by individual colleges and campuses to assess their emissions. Unit-level inventories may provide more detailed identification and management of potentially avoidable GHG emissions, and may increase unit accountability to reduce emissions, increase sustainability, and help progress university goals. Here I describe: 1) College of EMS sustainability efforts including our first college-level GHG emissions inventory; 2) a “how to” guide for other colleges and units who care to create their own inventory; and, 3) our EMS actions aimed at reducing our college's, and therefore the university's, C footprint.

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