The Millennium Cafe

Exchanging ideas and challenges

Aug 31 2018
Safety: a ‘Critical Competence’

Morgan Advanced Materials, a global supplier of components for demanding applications across multiple business sectors, has established its long-range carbon science R&D capability within the Innovation Park at Penn State. I will discuss how safety plays a central role at Morgan and in general across all industries. Safety will be discussed as a body of knowledge, a skill set, a mindset, a value necessary for carrying out all manner of activities, from experiments in the laboratory to operation of large-scale plants, and extending to day-to-day activities at home.

Understanding Sleep: From Computation to Physiologic Dynamics

Sleep is important for normal brain function, and sleep disruption is co-morbid with many neurological diseases. There is a growing mechanistic understanding of the neurological basis for sleep regulation that is beginning to lead to mechanistic models. We aim to validate the predictive capacity of such models. If we are successful, and the models accurately describe enough of the mechanistic functions of the physical system, then they can be used as sophisticated observation systems to reveal both system changes and sources of dysfunction with neurological diseases and identify routes to intervene.

Aug 28 2018
Fueling Regenerative Medicine with Lemon Molecules

Citric acid, naturally occurred in citrus fruits, is also known as an intermediate for cellular energy production in the Krebs cycle. Leveraging the multifunctional nature of citrate in chemistry and inspired by its important biological roles in human tissues, a class of highly versatile and functional citrate-based biomaterials has been developed. In this presentation, a methodology for the design of biomimetic citrate biomaterials and their applications in regenerative engineering, drug delivery, bioimaging and biosensing will be discussed.

Co-Authorship and Acknowledgements: There are No Gray Areas

Contributing to scholarly presentations, papers, and reports that are published online, in books, in archival journals, in PowerPoint, kept confidential in company archives, given orally at conferences, and shared among our community is foundational to all research activities. Contributions to science come in different flavors and the world is moving more and more towards science as a team sport. As such, this begs the question “how do we appropriately recognize the contributions of all team members?” Authorship and acknowledgements are not handed out based on people’s feelings or the color of the funding, they are earned through actions and contributions and are a formal part of the scientific process. This talk will discuss formal guidelines for co-authorship and acknowledgements that are stated by some of the largest science societies and publishing houses on the planet. There are no gray areas and it is time to formalize our approach to strengthen our science and strengthen our teams.

Aug 21 2018
“Juggling with Photons: From Theory to Practical Applications”

Photonics has provided the basic platform to test many fundamental theories of contemporary physics and to build novel technologies utilizing them. In this talk, I will discuss examples of how concepts such as entanglement, entangled networks and Parity-Time-symmetry can be realized in simple optical setups, highlight some of the unanswered questions, and how collaboration among different disciplines (e.g., optics, materials science, physics and engineering, etc) can provide new insights towards scalable and feasible quantum photonic networks as well as high-performance optical devices and systems.

“Attempting to Harvest the Hidden Functions of Biological Materials”

The iSuperSEED team of the Center for Nanoscale Science (Penn State MRSEC) pursues compelling new research opportunities in applying Rules of Life principles to adapt the highly-sophisticated synthesis and assembly machinery of living systems to the production of new symmetry-enabled functional materials that cannot be synthesized or fabricated through conventional engineering methods. The research team will leverage plant biology research of the DOE-funded Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation (CLSF), which seeks a deeper understanding of the plant cell wall, in part by adapting methods of materials research in service of biology to conversely induce biological systems to create new materials.  As an initial step, the team will utilize genotype and extracellular environment to control the structure, composition, and crystalline order of cellulose across length scales in search of new modes of symmetry-enabled materials response such as piezoelectricity, ferroelectricity, and electro-optic effects.

Aug 14 2018
Extending the Chemical Vision in Life Science by Cluster Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry Imaging (ToF-SIMS)

Understanding the function of bio-systems (e.g., cells and tissues) and their interaction with exogenous compounds requires the ability to visualize spatial distribution of the biomolecules (e.g., lipids, small metabolites) and compounds at subcellular resolution. However, the routine laboratory assays are largely done by bulk analysis on extraction from dissociated cells and tissues, in which the spatial distribution is lost. We have been developing cluster ToF-SIMS to map the chemistry on the frozen-hydrated biological samples with high resolution (< 1µm) and mass range up to m/z 5000. This recent development opens new opportunities for multi-omics, cell heterogeneity and disease mark and target, leading to the further understanding of disease progress and new treatment development.

Shifting Landscapes: Collaborative Archaeology in Southwest Madagascar

Since 2011 the Morombe Archaeological Project has undertaken archaeological survey, excavation and oral history recording in the Velondriake Marine Protected Area of southwest Madagascar. The project’s aims are to investigate diachronic human-environment dynamics and refine our understanding of the region’s settlement history by leveraging multiple scientific techniques and the collective historical and socio-ecological knowledge base of Velondriake’s living communities. In this presentation I describe the outcomes of the project’s approach to integrate diverse community members and collective knowledge in all aspects of the research and promote this approach as necessary for understanding the region’s rapidly shifting landscapes.

Aug 7 2018
A Computational Strategy to Guide Experiments

Although many scientific disciplines routinely use the term “hydrophobic,” understanding this concept often remains a challenge. Inspired by pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry efforts to describe hydrophobic drugs, this presentation highlights a computational strategy to predict and guide the synthesis of polymers.

Redefining Engineering in a Time of Global Crises: A Call to Action

Engineers have been solving problems, overcoming threats, and driving progress for over a millennium but with an inward focus on the connection between engineering and technology. To solve today’s challenges, engineers must partner with experts in all disciplines to build human-centric, culturally appropriate, engaged solutions to societal problems. This is a call to action to encourage Penn State engineers to take a leadership role within the engineering community so that, in partnership with all disciplines, humanity can emerge from today’s chaos stronger and prepared for the next 1000 years.

Jul 31 2018
No Cafe Due to Maintenance Week

The Millennium Science Complex maintenance week is July 30 - August 3.  Café will resume August 7.

Jul 24 2018
“Bacterial Cells under Electrochemical Probes”

In situ analysis of bacterial response to various environmental stressors is fundamentally important in fields ranging from life sciences to generation of sustainable energy using microbial fuels. Being scalable, electronic/electrochemical sensing can enable label-free analysis of bacterial behavior to stress, in situ.  In this talk, I will discuss how the response of bacterial cells to stress (osmotic and heat stress as examples) can be monitored using time-dependent impedance spectroscopy, highlight some of the unanswered questions, and how collaboration can hopefully provide new insights.

“AMS Radiocarbon: A Tool for Telling More than Time”

While radiocarbon (14C) measurement is usually associated with archaeological or paleontological chronology building, the technique has creative applications in astrophysics, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, hydrology, forensics, art history, aerosol and hydrocarbon research, biofuels, soils science, drug enforcement, wildlife conservation, and more.  Penn State’s AMS 14C laboratory gives researchers access to high-precision AMS 14C measurements and interdisciplinary collaboration.  This talk will give a sense of the varied and unexpected uses of AMS 14C that may surprise you.

Jul 17 2018
Our Commitment to Impact: Strategic Planning at Penn State

Strategic planning has paved the way for Penn State's ascension among the ranks of the world’s great research universities. Since the 1980s, Penn State has engaged in strategic planning to strengthen its ability to make careful, informed choices, and to allocate resources based on evidence, judgment, and long-term priorities. In 2016, Penn State published its five-year strategic plan, titled “Our Commitment to Impact,” and plan implementation is underway across the university. In this presentation, Provost Jones will share details about the plan implementation process and some recently funded initiatives that reveal how real-world activities support Penn State’s strategic priorities. Also covered: best practices in strategic planning, as well as pitfalls to avoid; how engagement, collaboration, and innovation by researchers and others university-wide are driving meaningful change; and some key takeaways Dr. Jones has gleaned from his work in higher education leadership.

Jul 10 2018
“Using Your Smartphone Camera as a Scientific Tool”

Modern smart-phones come equipped with sophisticated optics that can be used to record scientific phenomena.  This talk provides an overview of how to extract scientific data from images recorded using smart-phone cameras and other sophisticated imaging devices.  Applications including object shape/surface-topography analyses, understanding complex material phenomena, and using smart phones as visual aids will be discussed.

“Dielectric Materials for Energy and Medicine”

Dielectrics are a broad class of materials that do not have significant electronic or ionic conduction.  They are critical in many applications that require high voltage or controlled electromagnetic wave propagation.  The fundamental properties of dielectric materials will be discussed along with example applications in hybrid electric vehicles and magnetic resonance imaging.

Jul 3 2018
There will be no cafe

There will be no Café on 7/3 – we’ll see you on 7/10.

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