The Millennium Café

Exchanging ideas and challenges

Jul 16 2019
“We Can Buy Tailored Clothes - We Should Have Custom Medical Implants”

With an expanding global population the demand for bone and joint reconstruction surgeries has increased. Unfortunately, in the case of significant bone trauma such as bone cancer and major fractures, modern implants are not always optimized and often result in postoperative complications which require additional surgery. This talk will highlight additive manufacturing (AM) as a possible strategy to develop personalized orthopedic implants with improved fixation, reduced bone-implant interface instability and, improved bone resorption.

“Project Drawdown: Engaging Researchers, Citizens, and Farmers in Climate Action”

Project Drawdown has used peer-reviewed research to assess the costs and impact of over 80 solutions to reverse global warming. The portfolio of solutions is broad and sometimes surprising, including not just energy, buildings and transportation but also chemicals and materials, food systems and land use, and gender equity. Adoption of drawdown solutions will require highly interdisciplinary teams and multiple levels of agency to identify and implement at the local scale. In this talk I will highlight four farmer-powered solutions that can store many gigatons of carbon. These agricultural land management solutions contribute to better food security and can increase farm profitability while empowering farmers to become agents of positive change.

Jul 9 2019
‘So You Think Tasting is Easy?’ The Science of Human Food Perception

Sensory & Consumer Science is an interdisciplinary field of research that connects chemistry, and materials science, with psychology, human physiology, and neurobiology. At Penn State’s Sensory Evaluation Center (SEC) in the Food Science department, we utilize humans as instruments to evaluate food, but also use food to understand human perception. I will share examples of our research that demonstrate how materials science and chemistry can be used to develop more healthy and longer-lasting food products.

“Arts Plus: Explorations in Arts and Design Collaborations”

Recent curricular efforts by the College of Arts & Architecture have seen productive collaborations with a diversity of disciplines, including science, healthcare, and humanities. This talk explores the interesting spaces that exist at the intersections of seemingly divergent academic areas, and offers ideas about the benefits and challenges of cross-disciplinary partnerships. 

Jul 2 2019
No Millennium Cafe on July 2, 2019

The Millennium Cafe will return on July 9.

Jun 25 2019
“Unraveling the Complex Morphology of Desalination Membranes”

Membrane microstructure is a key component to determining transport properties and, as such, morphological characterization has been of high interest across many areas of membrane research. For desalination membranes in particular, reconstructions of the 3D morphology with transmission electron tomography reveal local heterogeneities not accessible from 2D projections. Quantification of these 3D local heterogeneities is crucial towards elucidating fundamental underpinnings of membrane transport.  

“Reflections on the Past, Aspirations for the Future”

Ruminations on Penn State’s successes and challenges over the last quarter century interwoven with a few thoughts about the future. 

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.  

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