NSF Director, Others to Speak at Taylor Lecture
Later this week, three of our own faculty, along with a distinguished speaker, will be giving talks on the future of their respective fields as part of the 2012 Nelson W. Taylor Lecture. Keynoting the Lecture will be Dr. Subra Suresh, Director of the National Science Foundation, the sole federal agency charged with advancing science and engineering research and education. The lecture begins at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, and will be taking place in the HUB’s Heritage Hall.
The first speaker scheduled is Dr. Moses Chan, a physics researcher here at dear old State who is also the Evan Pugh professor for his field. His presentation is titled Can a Solid be a Superfluid?, and is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. Superfluid is a state of matter where matter acts like a liquid, but without viscosity and with the ability to conduct a lot of heat (think water that refuses to boil and doesn’t leave droplets when you pour it out). This makes it incredibly useful as a way to dissipate heat produced by most modern technology. The lecture will likely revolve around an experiment performed in part by Prof. Chan, where he showed that solid Helium-4 can somewhat adapt these properties under certain conditions.
Next to speak is Dr. Tony Huang, whose lecture is scheduled to begin at 10:20 a.m. His speech, titled Lab-on-a-Chip Technologies Enabled by Acousto-Opto-Fluidics, examines new advancements in the field of nanotechnology. Dr. Huang is the lead researcher of the Penn State Biomedical-Nano-Electrical-Mechanical Systems, or just BioNEMS for short. The aim of this group is to understand the laws that govern materials, explore manufacturing techniques, and develop micro/nano devices to benefit medical diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The lecture will be talking about his group’s improvements to Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) technology, currently regarded as novel, where one future application may be in very poor countries where people die every single day due to easily treatable diseases going undetected.
The last Penn Stater to take the stage is Dr. Michael Hickner. His talk is scheduled for 10:40 and is titled Ion and Water Motion in Self-Assembled Polymers. Though the subject matter may seem particularly confusing, the research aims to understand the interaction between these newly-created materials and the environment, specifically water. Water tends to break things down over time, and ions can throw off the balance of a system. Possible applications of this research are in the development of biomaterials that the human body won’t reject, or be killed from.
Last to speak is Dr. Subra Suresh, at 11:00. As mentioned before, he is the man charged with keeping this country respectable academically, surely a difficult task. The topic of his talk will be Biomechanics and Human Diseases. Based off the subject of previous lecturers, it is definitely the theme of this year’s Taylor Lecture.
These brilliant minds, whether or not their research ever comes to fruition, deserve accolades for their commitment to trying to make the future a better place for everyone. Take two hours, read some Wikipedia, and come hear what they have to say. See you there.