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.

Phil Armstrong | Lead / Carbon Science Centre of Excellence / Morgan Advanced Materials

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.

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.

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.

Earth’s Critical Zone is the thin near-surface zone spanning from bedrock to the atmospheric boundary layer.  Since the mid-2000s, scientists have been viewing this zone through a new interdisciplinary lens that brings together biology, soil science, geology, hydrology, and meteorology to make co-located measurements of water, energy, sediment and solute fluxes.    NSF now funds a network of Critical Zone Observatories, one of which is led by a Penn State team. I’ll describe the key questions and ongoing research of our local Critical Zone Observatory, including the unmet demand for robust field sensors to monitor soil processes, and our attempts to move from measuring everything everywhere to measuring only what we need to model the Critical Zone.

Jason Kaye | Ecosystems Science and Management

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.