The Millennium Cafe

Exchanging ideas and challenges

The Millennium Café runs 10-11am in the 3rd floor Café Commons of the MSC Bldg. Join researchers from across campus for a stellar cup of coffee and two <10 min interdisciplinary talks.

Jun 27 2022
Plant-inspired 3D Printing with Renewable Materials

Plants developed a remarkable hierarchical woody structure some 400 million years ago that allows them to grow towards the sun, conduct moisture and nutrients, and resist attack from harmful organisms. My group takes inspiration from these structures to create new materials by 3D printing from plant-derived polymers. I will discuss our efforts to create and characterize new materials from renewable resources and I will speculate on how these new materials could be deployed to reverse anthropogenic climate change.

 

Research to Action: The New Center for Climate Solutions @ Penn State

Environmental urgency, growing political support, and public resolve are driving the demand for strategies to reverse global warming. The forthcoming Center for Climate Solutions and Sustainability Assessment provides a portfolio of engineering guidance, assessment, and professional education services to enable industry, community, and government clients to reduce their carbon footprint, improve their financial stability, and increase their workforce capacity to help solve complex sustainability challenges today. 

Jun 21 2022
The Inner-Workings of Rapid Antigen Tests

The Nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 is the key analyte in rapid antigen tests. Our team recently determined the first 3D structure of the N protein (48 kDa) using cryo-EM. Molecular modeling suggests high similarity in conserved regions of the N protein across all variants of concern — ensuring the effectiveness of lateral-flow tests. Overall, these structural tools can guide the design of new immune therapies as we plan for future variants and pandemics. 

High-Speed Nanoscale Correlative Imaging in Liquid

AFM applications in the life sciences have increased exponentially in recent years and include the ability to perform live-cell mechanical property mapping, high resolution molecular and cellular imaging, and fast scanning of dynamic biological processes.  The MCL has two “Bio” optimized AFM instruments and we will highlight two recent projects (Anthropology & Chemical Engineering) that leveraged the ability to perform both fluorescence microscopy and nanoscale imaging.

Jun 21 2022
The Inner-Workings of Rapid Antigen Tests

The Nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 is the key analyte in rapid antigen tests. Our team recently determined the first 3D structure of the N protein (48 kDa) using cryo-EM. Molecular modeling suggests high similarity in conserved regions of the N protein across all variants of concern — ensuring the effectiveness of lateral-flow tests. Overall, these structural tools can guide the design of new immune therapies as we plan for future variants and pandemics. 

High-Speed Nanoscale Correlative Imaging in Liquid

AFM applications in the life sciences have increased exponentially in recent years and include the ability to perform live-cell mechanical property mapping, high resolution molecular and cellular imaging, and fast scanning of dynamic biological processes. The MCL has two “Bio” optimized AFM instruments and we will highlight two recent projects (Anthropology & Chemical Engineering) that leveraged the ability to perform both fluorescence microscopy and nanoscale imaging.

Jun 14 2022
Center for Biodevices: Collaboration Across Disciplines

Established in 2020, the Center for Biodevices aims to bridge foundational science and clinical applications of biodevices, while enabling success of faculty, clinicians and students across multiple disciplines. The Center’s purpose is to initiate and support leading-edge research in biodevices by facilitating impactful collaborations across the University.  This presentation will describe the Center’s approach toward fostering multidisciplinary research collaborations.

Producing Chemicals and Fuels with Renewable Electricity

Electrochemistry provides a means for driving chemical transformations directly with electricity. The development of electrochemical processes for chemical and fuel production has become attractive in recent years due to the falling cost of renewable energy generation and the increasingly apparent environmental impact of conventional technologies. However, success in this endeavor relies on a concerted and collaborative effort between scientists with seeming disparate fields of expertise. This presentation will provide an overview of such devices, the contemporary challenges of chemical and fuel production via electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction, and the planned research activities of the Clark Electrocatalysis Laboratory.

Jun 7 2022
The Penn State Center for Biorenewables: Plants for People

People have grown and harvested plants for food, shelter, energy, clothing, and medicines for millennia, but our newfound ability to comprehend and manipulate plant metabolism and structure opens a cornucopia of new potential uses for Earth’s photosynthetic kingdom. I will highlight how researchers in the Center for Biorenewables are leveraging the amazing powers of plants to create the next generation of advanced biomaterials and bioproducts for the benefit of everyone and the planet we call home, and discuss how you can get involved in our center.

Rubbery Electronics: Devices and Circuits Entirely by Rubber

The distinction between conventional electronics and soft human body and organs poses a grand challenge in the broad medical field. Our solution to address the challenge is to invent a new class of electronics, namely rubbery electronics, which is constructed from elastic rubber electronic materials with tissue-like softness and mechanical stretchability to allow seamless integration with soft deformable tissues and organs. This presentation will discuss some recent development and understanding of rubbery organic semiconductors, rubbery transistors, integrated electronics, sensors and bioelectronics.

May 31 2022
MSC Core Facility Open House (Huck, MCL, and the Nanofab)

Join this unique edition of the Millennium Café to learn about many new research capabilities, to meet Huck, MCL, and Nanofab staff, and to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.  The open house will start with a brief presentation in the MSC Café Commons and then transition to posters/demonstrations throughout the building.

May 17 2022
Neuroethics: Addressing ethical, social, and cultural implications of neurotechnologies

Knowing when you have crossed the line from an ethical to an unethical situation can at times be difficult to discern. Neuroethics is a relatively recent interdisciplinary field that describes, examines, and looks for practical ways to address ethical, social and cultural implications of advances in neuroscience and neurotechnologies. Neuroethisists working together with other disciplines aim to strengthen and ensure the responsible research and innovation around neurotechnologies.

Help Win the $50M XPRIZE from Elon Musk: Capture and Store 1B tonnes of CO2/year

PlantVillage is the largest and most technologically advanced decision support system for smallholder farmers in the world. The biggest threat facing all farmers (smallholder farmers or otherwise) is climate change. We focus on climate change adaptation reaching 16 million farmers/week with expectations for a x10 increase in the coming 3 years. This number of farmers could be a massive assist in climate change mitigation. Farms in the global south could draw down and store carbon enabling a massive wealth transfer to solve poverty in a single generation. PlantVillage has won both the Student and Milestone Carbon XPRIZE and we are competing for the $50 million prize and we need your help: engineers, material scientists, dreamers. Come join us and save the world!

May 10 2022
“Synthesis at the Interface of Organic and Inorganic Materials”

The ability to make new materials and control them on an atomic scale remains a substantial challenge in materials chemistry. This talk will offer a window into planned research in the Fenton group, a new synthetic materials lab in the chemistry department at Penn State. Our work will focus on creative synthetic problem solving at the interface of inorganic and organic materials, covering a range of fundamental and application-driven inquiries in colloidal nanosolids, porous materials, polymers, and extended hybrid solids.

“2022 Millennium Café Pitch Competition Winners”

On May 5th >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.

  • Sanjana Krishna Mani - “Machines in Microscale: Light-driven Oil Submarines”
  • Christopher Wheatley - “Making cold sintering industrially feasible using ultrasonic nondestructive characterization”
  • Ama Agyapong  - “Journey to Ordering”
May 3 2022
Growing Neural Engineering @ Penn State

Neural Engineering is a truly collaborative cross disciplinary effort to bring modern technological approaches to interfacing with, understanding of, and clinical care of the brain and nervous system. I’ll sketch some of the strengths of PSU’s already strong interdisciplinary Neural Engineering community and the framework through which we’re targeting to expand.

Biomaterials and Biofabrication: Making with Mycelia

Innovators from coast to coast are building new things with fungi. The small number of fungi currently in mass production were already being cultivated at smaller scale for medicinal and other uses, suggesting that the best fungal building materials have yet to be discovered and that significant contributions toward sustainable materials will soon be made in collaboration with scientists who study fungal ecology, physiology, diversity and genomics. 

May 3 2022
Growing Neural Engineering @ Penn State

Neural Engineering is a truly collaborative cross disciplinary effort to bring modern technological approaches to interfacing with, understanding of, and clinical care of the brain and nervous system. I’ll sketch some of the strengths of PSU’s already strong interdisciplinary Neural Engineering community and the framework through which we’re targeting to expand.

Biomaterials and Biofabrication: Making with Mycelia

Innovators from coast to coast are building new things with fungi. The small number of fungi currently in mass production were already being cultivated at smaller scale for medicinal and other uses, suggesting that the best fungal building materials have yet to be discovered and that significant contributions toward sustainable materials will soon be made in collaboration with scientists who study fungal ecology, physiology, diversity and genomics. This talk was originally scheduled for 4/26 but will now occur on 5/3.

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