The Millennium Café

Exchanging ideas and challenges

Jun 18 2019
No Millennium Cafe on June 18, 2019

Due to a special event the Café will not convene on 6/18.

The Café returns on 6/25.

Jun 11 2019
“Understanding Soft Matter Self-Assembly at the Nano to the Microscale”

Much of the understanding in soft material self-assembly has been from a thermodynamic perspective, although most self-assembly conditions are non-equilibrium. To understand how non-equilibrium conditions impact the resulting morphology, the self-assembly process of both a co-surfactant and a block copolymer system was investigated. In the case of the block copolymer, the self-assembly process resulted in materials that were organized at both the nano and the microscale, which led to interesting structured color properties. 

“Faculty Presence and Participation on Campus in the 21st Century”

How have campus climate and faculty activities been impacted by the digital age and increasing pressure to complete research and teaching obligations off campus? What are the effects on Campus Life of research-related travel, task-overload, and pressure to publish?  We have begun a discussion of these issues in the College of EMS and are interested in your thoughts about what the University can do to encourage an environment in which lab benches compete favorably with cyberinfrastructure for our attention and campus venues and activities compete favorably with email as a mode of collegial interaction among faculty, students, and staff.

Jun 4 2019
“Our Energy Infrastructure is the Most Important Environmental Challenge Facing Humanity”

Most of the energy we use today is derived from fossil fuels, but the transition to a carbon-neutral economy will require more than just capturing solar and wind power for electricity generation. We must consider the energy sustainability of our water, food, and industrial infrastructures by shifting from a hydrocarbon to electrochemical platform based on water, hydrogen and electrons—if we are smart enough to solve some very challenging problems in electrochemistry. The Penn State Energy 2100 Strategic Initiative will help mobilize resources in these directions.

“Nanoscale Characterization of Biological Systems using Correlative Microscopy Techniques”

The MCL recently acquired capabilities to enable correlated fluorescence and atomic force microscopy (AFM). This upgrade and other investments open up a wide range of new applications: visualization of single virus particles, observing dynamic processes of biomolecules in real-time, mechanical quantification of tissues on the nanoscale, to the analysis of biomolecular assemblies at the single-molecule level. AFM is one of the few techniques that provides label-free sub-nanometer resolution of proteins, nucleic acid-protein complexes, membranes, and other sensitive bio-molecules and is even able to study living cells under aqueous buffer conditions.

May 28 2019
“2019 Millennium Café Pitch Competition Winners”

Calvin Yeager  |  “Instructions to Harm”

Marlene Carla Ndoun Tangmo  |  “Biochar as a Filter Media for the Adsorption of Emerging Contaminants”

Laxmicharan Samineni  |  “Nature-based Pathogen Filters”

On May 21th 40 students competed in the Millennium Café Pitch Competition sponsored by PPG.  The competition was fierce as students had <2 minutes to introduce their research in a manner that was understandable and inspiring to our panel of judges.  Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the top-3 winners from this year’s competition.

“The Need for Speed: Manufacturing Better Polymer Products”

There is a vast disconnect between the crystallization behavior of polymers under controlled conditions and the highly sheared, rapidly-quenched conditions encountered during manufacturing. I will discuss new techniques to understand and manipulate the flow induced crystallization of polymers under fast cooling conditions, to form intentional microstructure, and optimize property profiles of both neat and composite polymers.

May 21 2019
The Millennium Café Pitch Competition (sponsored by PPG)

In the spirit of the Café, 45 students are competing for the top prize by pitching their research in two minutes or less. Topics range from clean water, nanoscience, medicine, energy, materials, and much more. This is a great opportunity to scout for new collaborations while enjoying a cup of coffee. The competition starts at 10:00 and will be setup similar to a poster session - this enables attendees to individually engage the competitors. Please be mindful of the judges as they need to evaluate every competitor in a short period of time. PPG has once again generously provided funding to enable this fantastic event.

May 14 2019
“Using FDA-Approved Drugs in New Ways to Treat Severe Limb, Nerve, and Muscle Injury”

Our lab has found striking new properties of Erythropoietin and 4-aminopyridine in the regeneration of nerve and preservation of muscle after peripheral nerve trauma. Our published work shows these compounds seem to enhance myelination at the site of severe nerve crush injuries and alter the evolution of post-denervation muscle atrophy - key unsolved problems in orthopaedic trauma. We seek collaborations to solve key problems in the treatment of these patients, including diagnosis of severed nerves, treatments of nerve degeneration, and muscle atrophy.

“Managing Risks in a Changing Climate”

A changing climate drives risks. To better manage climate risks, we need to: (i) do the research right and (ii) do the right research. Starting with real-world decision-problems and integrating decision-makers into an environment of shared discovery can help with this task.  

May 7 2019
“Brilliant Color without Pigment”

A variety of physical phenomena create color. Pigments and dyes selectively absorb light to create color. While micro- and nano-scale periodic structures can generate color via material-specific optical dispersion. I will describe a previously unrecognized mechanism for creating iridescent structural color with large angular spectral separation via interference occurring when light undergoes multiple total internal reflections at microscale interfaces.

“The Day the Dinosaurs Died: Recovery of Life After Impact”

The impact of an asteroid at Chicxulub led to the extinction of more than 70 percent of species including the non-avian dinosaurs. Here I present mineralogical evidence that a thriving microbial community was established within days of the impact. This community helped survivorship and the recovery of higher orders of life in the oceans.

Apr 30 2019
No Millennium Cafe on 4/30 - enjoy exams

The Millennium Café will return on 5/7 @ 10:00 in the 3rd floor Café Commons of the Millennium Science Complex. Stop by for freshly brewed science & coffee.

Apr 23 2019
“X-MEN (X-ray tomography of Materials for Engineering and Nature)”

X-ray microtomography has become a standard for 3D exploration of materials microstructure in engineering and medicine. However, while the form of data remains the same, the techniques used to analyze it qualitatively and quantitatively have advanced at varying rates within different disciplines.  This is where the Penn State X-MEN enter: our mission is to accelerate the translation of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries, sharing segmentation strategies, feature extraction, and classification methods. From specimen preparation to a Data-Driven modeling we’ve leveraged the strength of five PSU colleges to get the most out of X-ray micro-CT data.

“3D Label-free Chemical Imaging of Tissues and Single Cells using Imaging Mass Spectrometry”

Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) is an imaging mass spectrometry technique that is capable of label-free chemical 2D and 3D imaging with a lateral resolution comparable to that of an optical microscope and a depth resolution down to 5 nm. ToF-SIMS imaging is thus possible at the level of a single cell. Furthermore, ToF-SIMS can detect both inorganic and organic molecules, and is sensitive enough to perform trace-element analyses. It is a particularly good technique for imaging lipids due to their high ionization efficiency, but it also allows high-spatial resolution imaging of nucleobases, amino acids, sugars, metabolites and non-native compounds such as drugs and toxins. This presentation will include an introduction to the technique, an overview of my past and current research involving tissue and single cell imaging, and potential areas for new collaborations here at Penn State.

Apr 16 2019
“NSF-PREM: The Cal State LA-Penn State Materials Science Partnership”

The Cal State LA Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program, in partnership with the Penn State MRSEC Center for Nanoscale Science, enhances the research and education of undergraduate and masters students in materials science and engineering at Cal State LA. It aims to enable, build, and grow partnerships between minority-serving institutions and DMR-supported centers and/or facilities to increase recruitment, retention and degree attainment by members of groups most underrepresented in materials research. This presentation will provide background on the program, highlight current collaborations, and articulate mechanisms for more PSU faculty to get involved.

“Fusion Energy: Recent Advances, Continuing Challenges, and Ongoing Research”

There are a number of science, engineering, and technology challenges that must be addressed before fusion can be realized for power production. I will discuss the advancements made in fusion energy research, what remains to be done, and touch on the work done in the BEARS Lab, particularly addressing our research on heat loads to plasma facing components and fusion power safety.  

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