Penn State and Monash University (in Melbourne, Australia) share some important characteristics: our intellectual culture and our research strengths are very well aligned. Penn State and Monash are now official partners, with a Memorandum of Understanding having been signed last September by President Neeli Bendapudi and Monash President Margaret Gardner (a good question to ask will be “where is Margaret now?”). This partnership opens up a world of opportunities for researchers at both universities. I've just returned from a visit to Monash and will share with you what I've learned and as much as I can from your questions. Get ready to pack your bags and to taste test Vegemite!

Speaker: Jenni Evans  |  Director, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences

The International Atomic Energy Agency defines nuclear forensics as …the examination of nuclear or other radioactive material, or of evidence that is contaminated (or comingled) with radionuclides, in the context of legal proceedings under international or national laws related to nuclear security. Historically, isotopic analyses of uranium and plutonium have been relied upon to provide key insights into the reactor or enrichment operations used to create special nuclear materials found outside of regulatory control (MORC). However, isotopic information provides no clues to the chemical process history of unknown materials. For this, scientists are attempting to exploit, among other things, morphological and microstructural features to reconstruct the process history of MORC…but many challenges remain.

Speaker: Jon Schwantes  |  Nuclear Engineering   

Penn State Global serves to broadly lead, advance, and support the university's global engagement. The office provides the specialized knowledge, expertise, and services to facilitate global programs, initiatives, and partnerships. This presentation focuses on supporting multidisciplinary research via global partnerships 

Speakers: Sabine Klahr & Alexandra Persiko  |  Penn State Global

I will overview recent efforts towards developing methods to assess confidence in published findings in the literature using AI.  These efforts serve the broader aim of supporting efficient scientific processes in light of the last decade’s replication crisis and ongoing open science movement. We will end with the vision of a computable scholarly record.

Speaker: Sarah Rajtmajer  |  College of Information Sciences & Technology

The more we learn about the human microbiome—bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoans that live on and in the human body and their genetic material—the more our view of humans is being challenged. Instead, we are invited to reconceptualized the human being as a superorganism and the human body as an ecosystem. This poses unique ethical, social, and legal questions, including how integral is the microbiome to our conception of self? How does knowledge about microbiome impact what we think it means to be healthy? To what extent do we own our microbes, and should our microbiome information be shared with healthcare providers or insurance companies? Who has the rights to benefit?


Jennifer Wagner  | Law, Policy, and Engineering

Emily Davenport  | Biology


Laura Weyrich  | Anthropology and Bioethics

In this special edition of the Millennium Café, we will have a panel discussion with researchers from different disciplines to consider the ethical, social, legal and cultural implications of innovative biomedical research for patients, people, animals, and populations. We will specifically discuss the human microbiome with panel experts and the audience.