Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturers 2013-2014 Abstracts

Gilda Barabino

Learning in Research Settings: Role of Identity Formation (P,G,S)
Training that occurs in research settings plays a critical role in controlling the way science is produced (knowledge creation) and perpetuated (knowledge transmission). Research laboratories provide specialized learning environments in terms of cooperative and collaborative learning, styles of communication, lines of authority, faculty-student and student-student interactions and knowledge creation and transmission. The everyday practices of faculty and students within these settings can promote student learning through identity formation via creation of an inclusive and supportive environment/community that enables a strong sense of self and view of oneself as a scientist or engineer. Racial and ethnic minorities and women differentially experience research settings in a manner that impacts science identity, learning outcomes and career progression. This presentation explores positioning in terms of race and gender in the laboratory and its relationship to learning using identity as a lens. Lived experiences of women of color will be addressed along with potential strategies that can be employed by faculty and institutions to enhance learning for all students.

Environmental Effects on Tissue-Engineered Cartilage (G,S)
Articular cartilage injury is a major cause of decreased mobility and can lead to osteoarthritis. Its limited ability for self-repair presents a challenge for orthopedic medicine that can potentially be met through tissue engineering approaches combining cells, bioactive molecules and material scaffolds in environments that support the regeneration of functional tissue. Critical for the success of these approaches is identification of appropriate cell sources, smart materials, and conditions to recapitulate properties of native cartilage and ensure proper integration with host tissue. We employ novel bioreactors with well-defined hydrodynamic zones to better understand the complex interplay between hydrodynamic, biochemical and biomechanical environments and their relationship to biochemical, histological, and mechanical engineered tissue properties. Our current model takes advantage of multipotent and highly proliferative mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in co-culture with primary articular chondrocytes as a source of endogenous stimuli to direct MSC differentiation, in order to improve cartilage construct properties. To elucidate the roles of critical chondrocyte-secreted paracrine factors that may drive MSC chondrogenic differentiation, relevant factors are incorporated into a novel layer-by-layer (LbL) molecule delivery device whose release profile mimics that of primary chondrocytes. Overall, our system provides a template to better understand mechanisms involved in the interplay between mechanical and biochemical stimuli in order to enable the in vitro production of engineered cartilage with clinically relevant properties and capabilities for restoring cartilage defects.

Investigation of Sickle Cell Disease using Engineering Approaches (P,G,S)
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic disorder affecting 70,000 Americans and millions globally that induces chronic inflammation and vascular dysfunction and causes multiple organ damage as a result. The pathophysiology of SCD is quite complex and involves altered interactions between blood cells and endothelial cells lining the vessel walls, altered mechanical properties of blood, blood cells and blood vessels and altered tissue properties in affected organs. We apply innovative engineering approaches and technologies to better understand conditions that contribute to vaso-occlusion, a hallmark of the disease, and the relationship between inflammation, vascular remodeling and vascular biomechanical abnormalities. Results from these studies will enable the development of new therapies and provide clinicians with therapeutic opportunities for improved management of individuals with SCD.

Arlen F. Chase

Tombs, Texts, and Time: The Archaeology of an Ancient Maya Capital City (PG)
As the largest ancient city known in Central America, Caracol, Belize directly impacts interpretations about Maya civilization and the complex relationship that existed between the ancient Maya and their environment. For 30 years the Maya ruins of Caracol have been the focus of continuous archaeological research by the University of Central Florida. Traditional archaeological excavation, survey, and analysis—conjoined with Maya hieroglyphic interpretation and remote sensing data—reveal a sprawling site covering more than 170 square kilometers. At A.D. 650, over 100,000 Maya lived at Caracol, sustained by crops grown on extensive systems of agricultural terraces. A dendritic series of causeways connected outlying public architecture with the site epicenter, providing both political control and economic integration. Excavations undertaken in the major public architecture of the site epicenter and in over 120 outlying residential groups demonstrate that Caracol was first occupied around 600 B.C. and that the Caracol epicenter was abandoned at or shortly after A.D. 900. Caracol's extensive hieroglyphic texts record over 500 years of dynastic history for 28 rulers, spanning A.D. 331 through A.D. 859. Texts also record warfare with the Guatemalan sites of Tikal, Naranjo, and Ucanal. Settlement archaeology has confirmed that the site's inhabitants benefited from this successful warfare; this is expressed archaeologically through the widespread distribution of tombs, finewares, and ritual practices to most of Caracol's residents. A resurgence of dynasty and a rejection of this "symbolic egalitarianism" in the Terminal Classic Period may have contributed to Caracol's eventual collapse. Because of the longevity of the archaeological project and the nature of the available data, Caracol provides perhaps the best understood Maya example of tropical low-density urbanism, permitting this ancient city to be better positioned in terms of the rise and fall of Maya civilization.

Airborne LiDAR at Caracol, Belize and its Implications for Archaeology (PG)
With its ability to penetrate dense tropical canopies, LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) has revolutionized how ancient landscapes are recorded. Due to dense vegetation, aerial and satellite imagery are generally insufficient to document most ancient Maya sites. Thus, archaeological survey work generally depends both upon sampling and laborious on-the-ground mapping. LiDAR, which involves pulsating laser beams directed through forest canopies, was applied to the site of Caracol, Belize in April 2009 and yielded a 200 sq km Digital Elevation Model that, for the first time, provided a complete view of how the archaeological remains from a single Maya site—its monumental architecture, roads, residential settlement, and agricultural terraces—were distributed over the landscape. With the detailed information that can be extracted from this technology, LiDAR is significantly changing our perceptions of ancient Maya civilization by demonstrating both the pervasiveness and scale of ancient human-built landscapes. The use of this technology elsewhere around the globe holds similar promise for changing the way in which we do archaeological research.

Transitions and Transformations in the Archaeology of the Ancient Maya (PG)
Like most complex societies, the archaeological record of the Maya provides evidence for a long history of cultural development. The establishment of settlement associated with slash-and-burn agriculture cleared the forests and severely altered the Maya environment. In the first millennia B.C., many of the small villages in the Maya lowlands formally established public places and architecture. Following this important step, Maya societies diversified and began steps toward their fluorescence into what is now known as their Classic Period (A.D. 250-900). Although Classic Period polities were diverse, many embraced governance through a form of divine kingship. As population levels continued to increase, however, some Late Classic polities experimented with other forms of socio-political organization. The major transformation of Maya society, the "collapse" circa A.D. 900, is still a subject of great debate among researchers, and the transition into later time periods, referred to as the Postclassic Period (A.D. 900-1500)," represented an "upward collapse" for most populations in the Maya lowlands. Postclassic societies were more outward looking than their Classic counterparts—and their global connections meant adaptations to new economic and political realities. The final transformation of Maya society was initiated at Spanish contact and eventually reduced Maya societies to faint shadows of their past social complexity.

Robert Clarke

Hormones and breast cancer (P,G,S)
The “female” hormone estrogen and the cellular protein to which it binds (estrogen receptor) regulate many functions associated with the risk to develop breast cancer. Drugs that compete with estrogen for binding to its receptor (e.g., Tamoxifen/Nolvadex) or that block the body’s ability to make estrogen (e.g., Letrozole/Femara) can reduce some women’s risk of their breast cancer recurring in the future and also reduce their risk of dying from this disease. Unfortunately, not everyone receives the same magnitude of benefit from these drugs. This lecture will explore the role of estrogen in driving the biology of some breast cancer cells and how current therapies target this hormone and its receptor. Also discussed will be some of the new research technologies available that may lead to future discoveries.

Modeling resistance to hormone based therapies in breast cancer (G,S)
Approximately 70% of all newly diagnosed invasive breast cancers express the estrogen receptor. Targeting this receptor with drugs like Tamoxifen has proved effective in reducing the risks of disease recurrence and death for many women. However, some tumors that should respond do not and others that respond initially later recur. Recurrent breast cancers are very difficult to cure. This lecture will discuss our current research integrates mathematical and computational modeling to explore how breast cancers adapt their molecular signaling, and so also their cellular metabolism and regulation of subcellular functions, to survive the stresses imposed by hormone based therapies. How the insights gained from our work can lead to new approaches to treat some breast cancers will also be presented.

What can we learn about breast cancer by combining mathematics and computer science in a systems biology approach to research? (P,G,S)
The past decade has seen the advent of a series of new high-throughput technologies that now allow researchers to sequence the entire human genome and concurrently measure the expression levels of thousands of genes and proteins in specimens from human tumors. While these technologies create immense volumes of data, turning this information into knowledge requires expertise in mathematics and computer science. Incorporating expertise in these physical sciences is fundamentally changing how we approach answering questions in biology. This lecture will discuss how, in our Center for Cancer Systems Biology, we integrate mathematical and computer science tools to analyze multiple data types and build predictive models that help us to understand how breast cancer cells determine whether to live or die, or to replicate or growth arrest, in response to anticancer treatments.

James R. Fleming

Fixing the Sky: The checkered history of weather and climate control (P,G,S)
This lecture examines the history of weather and climate control since the nineteenth century and places recent proposals to manage solar radiation and to capture and sequester CO2 in historical perspective. It documents civilian and military efforts to make rain, clear fogs, redirect storms, and even shape planetary features in the troposphere, stratosphere, and magnetosphere. The focus is on the role of new technologies for weather and climate control specifically, after 1945, on nuclear power, chemical seeding agents, digital computers, and rockets and satellites.

Harry Wexler and the Emergence of Atmospheric Science (P,G,S)
Harry Wexler (1911-1962) was one of the most influential meteorologists of the twentieth century. He was a graduate of Harvard and MIT as well as a student and life-long colleague of C-G. Rossby. Wexler was a leader in World War II meteorological education for the Army Air Force, and, in 1944, became the first scientist to fly into a hurricane. During his long tenure as Chief of the Scientific Services Division of the U.S. Weather Bureau Wexler oversaw the introduction of a large number of transformative technologies, including weather radar, atmospheric nuclear tracers, scientific sounding rockets, numerical weather prediction, general circulation modeling, and satellite meteorology.

Wexler was able to nurture two of the biggest ideas in twentieth century meteorology, both originating with Vilhelm Bjerknes: (1) air mass and frontal analysis and (2) mathematical calculation of the future state of the atmosphere. In the 1930s and '40s Wexler was a leader in adapting Bergen School methods of forecasting to the United States. Beginning in 1945 Wexler worked with the Princeton mathematician John von Neumann to establish the Institute for Advanced Study meteorology program in digital computing and the weather bureau programs in operational numerical weather prediction and general circulation modeling.

The interdisciplinary atmospheric sciences were taking shape by about 1960, due in large part to the work of Harry Wexler, whose papers provide special access to this era.

Historical Perspectives on Climate Change (P,G,S)
This lecture examines the dynamic nature of climate change from the late enlightenment through the twentieth century. While the Earth's climate has experienced some notable changes over the past two centuries, both the science of climate change and popular ideas about climate have undergone complete revolutions. So too has technology, which in two hundred years has transformed an earlier pastoral/agricultural order into our current postindustrial society, with major implications for our experience of weather and climate.

Mark Hernandez

Aerobiology, the final frontier for environmental engineers. How molecular biology is rapidly changing our views of the air we breathe at home, in transit, and at work (G, S)
Aerobiology, the final frontier for environmental engineers. How molecular biology is rapidly changing our views of the air we breathe at home, in transit, and at work. While gas phase pollutants in the atmosphere (SMOG) have received much attention, the microbiology of aerosols (termed "bioaerosols") has been largely ignored in environmental engineering. Certainly, this is not consistent with the civil engineers' charter concerning water quality and public health. Industrial hygienists have traditionally characterized airborne microbes indoor, but have rarely approached aerobiology problems from an engineering perspective. This presentation will highlight how the marriage of engineering with molecular biology is exposing the true identity and distribution of microorganisms suspended in the air we breathe—that which has been sorely overlooked by generations of classical culturing, and recently been extended to outdoor environments. We are now characterizing outdoor air for the purposes of better understanding how microorganisms and other primary biological materials contribute to organic carbon loads in our atmosphere— particularly following large scale disasters.

The Demography of Academic Neighborhoods and the Emerging Culture of Missing Mentors in our Research Universities (P, G, S)
Mentors can be passive or active, and whether we realize it or not, many of us rely on a network of mentoring systems throughout our lives. Such networks are well established in our social interactions, but are not often engaged to enrich our academic training or otherwise leverage our professional goals. Nowhere is formal mentoring this more important than in the advanced technical and research training of our workforce, yet the availability of mentoring networks are perceived to be declining in our large research universities. This presentation will provide an overview of how the modern student body at large, and particularly minority students, fail to identify and approach some of the most critical decisions in their lives: deciding who to entrust with their visions, and who has the skill, availability and desire to forward them into the professional world during their graduate training. In the context of our nation's critical need for scientists and engineers, the modern challenges of finding, investing and leveraging professional mentors will be presented, as will paradigms to integrate heroes and value sets into University students' visions for the path and apex of their careers.

Mary Lee A. Jensvold

Conversations with Chimpanzees: Transforming our View of Nature (P,G,S)
Chimpanzees share behavioral and biological similarities with humans. Cross-fostering studies are a way to study the interaction of genetics and the environment. In the 1960's and 70's at the University of Nevada-Reno cross-fostered chimpanzees raised like deaf human children acquired signs in patterns that resembled human children. A young chimpanzee Loulis acquired his signs from other signing chimpanzees. As adults today they continue to use their signs to communicate with humans and each other.

Animal Welfare: Chimpanzee Relationships With Caregivers and Zoo Visitors (G,S)
Apes are by nature an extremely social species and relationships with group members are a critical aspect of life. Captive apes additionally manage relationships with humans including caregivers and visitors to public facilities and these relationships can affect animal welfare. Apes are the most popular of all zoo residents yet research shows zoo visitors are a potential source of stress and can elicit aggression. In addition captive apes often react fearfully and aggressively toward their caregivers. The mere presence of a caregiver can have a negative effect as can husbandry. When the nature of the relationship is manipulated, the relationship between ape and caregiver and zoo visitors can be more positive. The research presented explores the effects of caregiver and visitor use of species-specific chimpanzee behaviors in interactions with sanctuary- and zoo-living chimpanzees. Visitors to Chimpanzee & Human Communication Institute (CHCI) are trained to use non-threatening behaviors such as sitting, instead of standing, and showing chimpanzee playfaces, instead of grins. Experimentally we eliminated this training with some groups of visitors (naïve) and compared the chimpanzees' responses to both groups of visitors. The chimpanzees showed less aggression to educated than to naïve visitors. In a zoo setting two experimental conditions teased out the effect of signs and docent presentation to manipulate visitor behavior. Zoo visitors complied with suggestions on a sign to present play slaps and with docent suggestions to present headnods. The chimpanzees were significantly more active in the docent condition than in the control and sign conditions. The behavior of the caregivers also can be manipulated to affect the relationship. In a zoo and a sanctuary setting caregivers used chimpanzee or human interactional behaviors. The chimpanzees clearly discriminated between the conditions. In the zoo setting the chimpanzees were significantly more friendly and interactive when caregivers used species-specific behaviors than when they did not. These results provide strong support that chimpanzees are quite sensitive to the non-verbal behavior of the humans around them and respond to species-specific behaviors in positive ways. Additionally, it is possible to affect changes in visitors' behavior. Taken together, these provide ways to improve animal welfare.

Ethological Roots of Language Acquisition (G,S)
Cross-fostering studies are a way to study the interaction of genetics and the environment. In the 1960's and 70's at the University of Nevada-Reno cross-fostered chimpanzees raised like deaf human children acquired signs in patterns that resembled human children. Language behavior includes form, content, and usage. Chimpanzees exhibit aspects of these. These behaviors are described.

What? Conversation Repair in Chimpanzee Conversations (G,S)
Cross-fostered as infants in Reno, chimpanzees Washoe, Moja, Tatu, and Dar freely conversed in signs of American Sign Language with each other as well as with humans in Ellensburg. In this experiment a human interlocutor waited for a chimpanzee to initiate conversations with her and then responded with one of four types of probes; general requests for more information, on topic questions, off topic questions, or negative statements. The responses of the chimpanzees to the probes depended on the type of probe and the particular signs in the probes. They reiterated, adjusted, and shifted the signs in their utterances in conversationally appropriate rejoinders. Their reactions to and interactions with a conversational partner resembled patterns of conversation found in similar studies of human children. A second study when chimpanzee requests were systematically satisfied, the chimpanzees most often ceased signing. However when their requests were misunderstood, refused, or not acknowledged, the chimpanzees repeated and revised their original utterances. The traditional in theoretical linguistics is to examine syntax and semantics using a top down approach. Yet successful face-to-face interactions involve the orchestration of pragmatics and context as well as syntax and semantics. Recent research with human also explores pragmatic and contextual appropriateness in the stream of conversation.

Eric J. Jolly

Why Science? (P)

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educational achievement and workforce development are touted as bellwethers for America’s economic vitality and enduring national security.  Dr. Jolly will review some of the factors that contribute to the current belief that science is an essential literacy for this century and will discuss the implications of our nation’s lower international rankings in mathematics and science education.  He suggests that science literacy is neither broadly nor equitably distributed and will review solutions in policy and practice to address these issues.

Research Based Practice for Addressing STEM Achievement (P)
Based upon his work with Dr. Patricia Campbell, Dr. Jolly will review what research-based decision making would suggest as successful strategies for addressing the achievement gap in STEM education. He will review a three-part model for systemic reform that can help coordinate disparate reform activities to increase the likelihood of advancing educational progress.

W. R. (Bill) Klemm

Atoms of Mind. The "Ghost in the Machine" Materializes (G, P)
This lecture crystallizes Dr. Klemm's ideas about brain function as documented in his latest book of the same title. The lecture begins with an explanation of how the brain "thinks," and defines thought as either latent (memory stores) or "on-line" in the form of patterns of nerve impulses distributed in circuits and networks. Impulse activity patterns combine with the role of such phenomena as oscillation and synchronization to lead to the speaker's view of how consciousness might be produced and sustained. In the discussion of consciousness, the speaker challenges the common view that free-will is illusory. His theory for consciousness is based on a brain capability that can generate both automatic intentions and choices but also freely chosen ones. Dr. Klemm, a long-time sleep researcher, also presents his latest theory for why people dream. The speaker's wide-spectrum of research experiences enable him to participate in extensive audience questions and discussion of all aspects of brain function. Supplementary reading: Atoms of Mind. The "Ghost in the Machine" Materializes. Springer. 2011

What Teachers Can Do to Improve Student Learning and Memory (G, S)
This lecture shares Dr. Klemm's 45 years of experience as a college professor, which has been importantly influenced by his special interest and research in memory and teaching effectiveness. The lecture begins with an explanation of the various kinds of memory and how they work. Then, the lecture explains common teaching environments and practices that actually impede efficient learning. The bulk of the lecture deals with specific teaching strategies and techniques that teachers can use to make their teaching more effective and the impact more lasting. Supplementary reading: Thank You Brain for All You Remember. Benecton Press. Blog:

Better Grades, Less Effort (G, S)
This lecture is specifically tailored to high school and college students. It is aimed at helping them learn more effectively and to employ study strategies that will promote long-lasting memories. Dr. Klemm relates lessons he learned from his own days as a "Joe college" with many extracurricular activities, a student in an overwhelming veterinary medical curriculum, a student who completed a Ph.D. program in 2.5 years, and as a professor of biology, veterinary medical, and neuroscience students. The lecture explains 20 learning techniques in four thematic categories: lifestyle, memory principles and processes, attitude and approach, and classroom and study environment. Supplementary reading: Better Grades, Less Effort (an e-book, priced at $2.49, available in all formats from

Rikk G. Kvitek

Peeling Back the Blue: how we map and use 3D visualization to reveal and learn from earth's hidden seafloor landscapes. (P,G,S)
Although the global ocean is the driver of weather, a highway for marine commerce, a reservoir of vast marine resources, and our playground, we know more about distant planets than we do about the seafloor. Imagine if the next time you were standing at the ocean's edge that instead of watching crashing waves, you were able to visualize submarine canyons, underwater seamounts and ridges, and even a kelp forest teeming with marine life. The State of California has undertaken a cutting-edge project to make this possible by mapping the seafloor of all the state's waters. Rikk Kvitek will show you the first images created from this effort and share with you how this new information is already being used in a multitude of ways.

From "You've Got to Be Kidding!" to "Ah-Ha!": Hope for our oceans through insight and innovation. (P,G,S)

Need, frustration, breakthrough and surprise is a trajectory common to many enterprises, especially science, where answers are often sought beyond the "You've Got to Be Kidding!" edge of what seems possible. Indeed, it is often frustration-induced lateral thinking that brings us to those Ah-Ha! moments of insight, innovation and breakthrough. Choosing or being forced to see things differently can make all the difference. Now, with our coastal oceans and communities facing the unprecedented threats of global warming, climate change, sea level rise, acidification, pollution, storm intensification, fishery declines, coastal erosion, harmful algal blooms, and more, we are in need of Ah-Ha! insights and solutions more than ever before. Not the least of which being ways to enhance public environmental literacy. Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) has been championed for over a decade as the pursuit and use of deeper ecosystem understanding to drive effective adaptive management solutions for the sustainable use of environmental goods and services. But it is difficult to understand, let alone agree upon and manage what you cannot see. Recent advances in our ability to collect and utilize spatially explicit data for the visualization of California's marine ecosystems have sprung from and lead to surprising insights that are making EBM both possible and personal. Here I use the ambitious, multi-institutional California Seafloor Mapping Project as a case in point for how transformational technology and data are changing for the better the way the public, agencies and scientists see, manage and interact with the marine environment. Stunning imagery, basic and applied scientific collaborations and breakthroughs, enhanced public environmental literacy, critical work force development, innovative resource utilization, and effective policy and management decisions are all now flowing from this type of strategic investment in state-of-the-art marine environmental data.

Mediation of the foraging behavior, spatial distribution and ecological influence of sea otters and shorebirds by harmful algal blooms. (P,G,S)
Here I will present evidence from a series of investigations suggesting that partial predation by siphon-nipping fish may have selected for sequestration of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins (PSPT) in butter clam (Saxidomus spp.) siphons, and that once acquired, this defense mediates predation by other species (sea otters and shorebirds) thereby altering the ecological influence of these high-level predators in regions where blooms of toxic dinoflagellates occur. I will describe in greater detail testing of the general hypothesis that the foraging behavior and distribution of sea otters and shorebirds under natural conditions are mediated by benthic prey toxicity due to harmful algal blooms. Sea otters in southeast Alaska did change their foraging behavior at sites where Butter Clams (Saxidomus giganteus) were found to contain paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins (PSPT) in high concentrations. At the most toxic sites Sea Otters shifted their diet away from their primary Butter Clam prey to smaller and less abundant non-toxic species. At sites of intermediate prey toxicity some Sea Otters continued to forage on Butter Clams while discarding the most toxic body parts. In California, observed changes in shorebird feeding behavior (mainly Oystercatchers, Willets, Godwits and Whimbrels) was correlated with seasonal changes in PSPT in their primary prey, sea mussels (Mytilus californianus) and mole crabs (Emerita analoga). In rocky habitats where mussel toxicity exceeded 150mgSTX/ 100g, Oystercatchers significantly increased their consumption of limpets as well as their discard rate of mussel tissue. In sandy beach habitats where Emerita toxicity exceeded 150mgSTX/ 100g, shorebird abundance decreased significantly, while their rejection rate of Emerita prey increased significantly. We conclude that these predators reduce their exposure to PSP toxins during HAB events through a variety of behavioral responses including: changing their diet, discarding toxic prey and/or avoiding affected areas. These responses may account for the rarity of sea otter and shorebird mortality due to HAB's, and result in HAB toxins providing a refuge from predation for some prey populations.

Diandra L. Leslie-Pelecky

The Science of Speed: Faster, Stronger and Safer (P,G)
A group of racecars piloted by the best drivers in NASCAR enter Turn 4 at Chrlotte Motor Speedway going almost 200 mph. Without warning, one of the cars wiggles, and then slams into the wall. None of the cars touched, there were no engine failures, no flat tires, so what happened? This is the question that took Professor Diandra Leslie-Pelecky from the lab to the racetrack, speeding around Texas Motor Speedway (she calls it 'research') in an effort to understand why going fast is so hard. In her quest for understanding the science of speed, she met the mechanical engineers, aerodynamicists, chemical engineers, and physicists who have become critical participants in the high-stakes world of motorsports. Even drivers without engineering degrees develop an intuitive understanding of physics, "you don't keep your job long without a working knowledge of Newton's Laws of Motion." What she learned is that you can't win races without getting the math and science right. Here's where all the science you learned in high school (and wondered when you'd ever use) hits the road. If you've ever thought about knocking Lewis Hamilton or Jeff Gordon out of their ride, you might want to hear this talk before you make your move: without knowing the science, you're more likely to see the yellow flag than the checkered one.

Materials at 200 mph: Faster, Stronger and Safer (P,G)
The quest for speed is always accompanied by concern for safety. Materials play important roles in improving performance, but they also protect the driver. On the performance side, different racing series limit the materials used to decrease the cost of racing. When 'exotic metals' are not allowed, controlling microstructure and nanostructure are important tools in producing materials that maximize strength while minimizing weight. Compacted Graphite Iron, a cast iron in which magnesium additions produce interlocking microscale graphite reinforcements, makes engine blocks stronger and lighter. NASCAR's new car design employs an innovative polymer composite called Tegris in the aerodynamic splitter. This composite can replace significantly more expensive carbon-fiber composites in many applications. The most important role of materials in racing is safety. Drivers wear firesuits made of polymers that carbonize (providing thermal protection) and expand (reducing oxygen availability) when heated. Technology transfer from NASA to NASCAR brought catalytic materials originally developed for space-based carbon dioxide lasers into the car to filter air for drivers during races. Although materials help cars go fast, they also help cars slow down safely important because the kinetic energy of a race car going 180 mph is nine times greater than that of a passenger car going 60 mph. Energy-absorbing foams in the cars and on the tracks direct energy dissipation away from the driver during accidents. NASCAR fans "and there are about 75 million of them" understand that science and engineering are integral to keeping their drivers safe and helping their teams win. Their passion for racing gives us a great opportunity to share our passion for materials science and engineering with them.

Building the Perfect World: One (Very) Small Step at a Time (P,G)
Bigger may be better, but small is sensational. Nanomaterials, materials thousands of times smaller than a human hair, are rapidly expanding the realm of the possible. From smart self-cleaning materials to energy efficient lights that don't make you look pasty, nanomaterials are finding their way into consumer products from tennis rackets to face creams. What makes nanomaterials special isn't just their size - it is that their small size produces chemical and physical properties impossible to achieve in the same material when it is big. Gold isn't even gold-colored when you make it very small. Ideas that might have seemed science fiction just a few years ago - like tiny magnets that hold anti-cancer drugs near tumors - are right around the corner. Along with the amazing possibilities for technological advances comes the responsibility of thoroughly understanding these materials. The unexpected properties of nanomaterials mean that we are sometimes surprised by how our new creations interact with us, and the world around us. This presentation introduces the world of nanomaterials, uses some of the most fascinating materials as examples of what is possible now and what will be possible in the very near future, and examines what we are doing to ensure that we know not just what we can make, but what we should make.

Biomedical Applications of Magnetic Nanoparticles (G,S) Nanoscale materials offer unprecedented opportunities to investigate and interact with biological systems. Magnetic nanomaterials are especially interesting due to the potential for controlling materials inside the body using an external magnetic field. Magnetically targeting chemotherapy drugs, for example, could decrease the systemic effects that make cancer treatment so debilitating. Biomedical applications, however, impose constraints. Magnetic targeting requires large magnetic moments, but also that materials be biocompatible, and stable in air and aqueous environments. Size and surface characteristics (e.g. charge, chemical functionality) must be controlled to regulate how the nanomaterials circulate within the body and interact with different types of cells. After a general overview of the applications of magnetic nanoparticles in medicine, I will describe our work developing multifunctional magnetic nanoparticle fluids. These materials are capable of delivering multiple hydrophobic anti-cancer drugs to specific locations, as well as enhancing magnetic resonance imaging of the affected area. In this formulation, the drugs partition in the hydrophobic portion of a double-layer surfactant, which improves drug loading and release, while the outer layer of the surfactant improves the circulation time in the body. I will then describe our use of inert-gas condensation into liquids to produce increased magnetic moment nanoparticles that will improve the magnetic targeting capability, and our efforts to understand the mechanisms by which surfactants change magnetic properties.

Yi Lu

Rational Design of Metalloproteins as Biocatalysts for Sustainable Energy (G,S)
Metalloproteins play critical roles in sustainable energy, such as in photosynthesis, biomass conversion, biofuel cells and water splitting or oxidation. These proteins cannot be used in practical applications due to high cost and low stability, while cost-effective and stable biomimetic compounds can be very difficult to reproduce either the structure or function of the proteins. To overcome these limitations, we have been using small, stable, easy-to-produce and well characterized proteins as "ligands" to make biosynthetic models of metalloproteins,1-2 such as cytochrome c oxidase, a terminal oxidase that can convert the energy in O2 into proton gradient as a form of biofuels, and manganese peroxidase, an enzyme that can degrade lignin, a critical step in biomass conversion. In this presentation, I will give recent examples3-6 to demonstrate that non-covalent interactions around the active site of proteins, such as hydrophobic tuning and hydrogen-bonding network and well-positioned water are required to make structural and functional models of these important metalloproteins with high reactivity and turnovers.

  1. Lu, Y. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 45, 5588-5601 (2006).
  2. Lu, Y.; Yeung, N.; Sieracki, N.; Marshall, N. M., Nature, 460, 855-862 (2009).
  3. Nicholas M. Marshall, Dewain K. Garner, Tiffany D. Wilson, Yi-Gui Gao, Howard Robinson, Mark J. Nilges, and Yi Lu, Nature 462, 113-116 (2009).
  4. Natasha Yeung, Ying-Wu Lin, Yi-Gui Gao, Xuan Zhao, Brandy S. Russell, Lanyu Lei, Kyle D. Miner, Howard Robinson, and Yi Lu, Nature 462, 1079-1082 (2009).
  5. Ying-Wu Lin, Natasha Yeung, Yi-Gui Gao, Kyle D. Miner, Shiliang Tian, Howard Robinson, and Yi Lu, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 8581-8586 (2010).
  6. Kyle D. Miner, Arnab Mukherjee, Yi Gui Gao, Eric L. Null, Igor D. Petrik, Xuan Zhao, Natasha Yeung, Howard Robinson, and Yi Lu, Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 51, 5589-5592 (2012).

Functional DNA Nanotechnology and its Application in Sensing, Imaging and Medicine (P,G,S)
Recent progress in nanoscale science and technology has resulted in a number of nanomaterials with interesting optical, electrical, magnetic properties that can be ideal choices for signal transductions for analytical chemistry. However, most of these materials lack selectivity required for detection. Functional DNA, a new class of DNA with functions similar to either antibody (known as aptamers) or enzymes (called DNAzymes) can provide high selectivity for a wide range of molecules, including small molecules such as metal ions and small organic molecules that antibodies do not bind with high selectivity. We have been able to use a combinatorial method called in vitro selection to obtain functional DNA that can bind targets of choice strongly and specifically, and used negative selection strategy to improve the selectivity. By labeling the resulting functional DNA with gold nanoparticles, quantum dots, and supermagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, we have developed new classes of colorimetric and fluorescent sensors, and smart MRI contrast agents for metal ions, organic and biomolecules.1 A novel approach of using an inactive variant of functional DNA to tune the detection range of the sensors is also demonstrated.2 For even more straightforward field applications, these sensors have been converted into simple "dipstick" tests for qualitative detection.3 Finally, we have used the functional DNA to achieve target-specific drug delivery, and complementary DNA as an antidote to tune the effectiveness of the drugs.4 Recent results will be presented.

  1. a) Juewen Liu, Zehui Cao and Yi Lu, Chem. Rev. 109, 1948–1998 (2009); b) Yingfu Li and Yi Lu, "Functional Nucleic Acids for Sensing and Other Analytical Applications," Springer, New York, NY (2009).
  2. Juewen Liu and Yi Lu, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 6642-6643 (2003).
  3. Juewen Liu, Debapriya Mazumdar and Yi Lu, Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 45, 7955 –7959 (2006).
  4. Zehui Cao, et al. Angew Chemie Intl. Ed. 48, 6494 –6498 (2009).

Paul E. Minnis

Mysteries or Lessons: Archaeology of the Ancient Southwest (P,G,S)
The spectacular ruins of the North American Southwest have often been viewed as a mystery to be revealed through archaeology. This dehumanizes the ancient past. Rather, a focus on archaeology as an approach to document and understand the creative solutions developed by prehistoric people offers important lessons and strategies for dealing with our dynamic and uncertain future. Specifically, the indigenous people of the North American Sothwest had to deal with climate variation, and the challenges of finding sustainable lifeways. Examples from Ancestoral Pueblo (Anasazi), Hohokam, and northern Mexico illustrates their struggles and accomplishments.

Indigenous Humans and History in Ecology (P,G)
These is a common image that indigenous peoples do/did not affect their environments. Modern ethnobiological research clearly documents the astonishingly complex and diverse ways people are active participants with the environments. Anthropogenic ecology, therefore, is a critical topic for understanding historical ecology. Consideration of the ecological affects of tarditional humanity makes us reconsider whether human environmental effects are "good" or "bad."

Utilitarian Archaeology: "Mining" the Past for the Future (S)
Archaeologists strive to provide narratives about the past, the more detailed the narrative, the better. There are a variety of types of narratives including those more scientific and those with a more humanities orientation. Can archaeology contribute to solving practical problems facing humanity how and in the forseeable futures? These problems include: increased environmental degradation, developing sufficient and sustainable economies, and reducing pathological social relationships, among others. Archaeological narratives can provide compelling and powerful lessons about how human cope with problems. However, lessons from archaeological records are not the only way for archaeology to contribute. In fact, they usually suffer from two problems. I outline a complimentary approach, "Utilitarian Archaeology," which can minimize the problems with with a narrative based archaeology.

Develop of regional System in the North American Southwest (P,G,S)
The rich and profoundly deep prehistory of the North American Sotuhwest (U.S. Southwest and northwestern Mexico), provides dramatic example of the development of societies with leaders, intense interaction among many interdependent communities, and long distance relationships. The historical development of two such systems, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and Casas Grandes in Chihuahua, Mexico, will be compared. This comparison clearly demonstrated the multiple pathways to social and political complexity.

Dennis K. Norman

American Indian Health: A History of Disparities (P,G,S)
This lecture will focus on the history of Native American health, starting with pre-colonization anecdotes, early colonial status, the movement to reservations and the evolving relationship with the national government in responding to its trust relationship with native Nation and their health care. While the early history with colonial settlements was characterized by a massive loss of life due to infectious disease and wars, subsequent health disparities have positioned American Indians at the top of the US population in terms of overall mortality and poor health outcomes. A review of current American Indian status in terms of population, location, identity identification will provide the back-drop for examining the current Indian Health Service, the rise of Tribal health services and the various challenges concerning diabetes, obesity, chronic illnesses, suicide and substance abuse. Factors will be discussed about pipeline issues that make it difficult for American Indians youth to attain education and professional training to address these issues without significant assistance from non-Native caregivers.

Twenty Years of Nation Building in Higher Education (P,G,S)
The process of constructive University collaborations with American Indian communities and organizations respecting sovereignty, culture and the joint building of new knowledge and problem solving will be discussed. The backdrop of these discussions will focus on a twenty year history of Nation Building Projects supported by the Harvard University Native American Program and taught by Harvard faculty under the auspices of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Graduate School of Education. Nation Building projects are undertaken at the request of Native communities. The "Nation Building" strategy, by which an increasing number of Native communities have set about reclaiming powers of self-determination, strengthening their cultures, and developing their economies. A small piece of this movement has been the establishment of new models for respectful and mutually collaborative relations between universities and American Indian/Alaskan Native communities and organizations. For universities to maintain their positions as the major social institutions for educating future citizens, professionals and leaders to deal with the challenges of multiculturalism and globalization they must reconsider and expand their base of knowledge. Our experience with more than 120 Nation Building projects over the last dozen years suggests that the tenets of Nation Building can provide a strategy for expanding and diversifying universities' perspectives of knowledge in a multicultural world, while actually producing something useful requested by Native communities. The content range of project requests is diverse, ranging across public administration, education, health, economic development, environmental protection, resource management, culture and social welfare. The exchange of knowledge flows both directions during the communications, site visits and supervision by the professors, enriching Harvard students, clients, and faculty.

J. Carlos Santamarina

Energy: A Geo-Centered Perspective (P,G,S)
Energy and growth are intimately related. There will be a pronounced increase in energy demand in the next decades associated to economic development and population growth worldwide. This situation will exacerbate current issues related to the spatial distributions of supply and demand, the dependency on fossil fuels and its environmental consequences. Geo-sciences and engineering are at the center of the energy challenge, from production, transportation, consumption and conservation, to waste management and carbon sequestration, and their central roles extend to all energy resources, including fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable sources.

Bio-Mimetics: From Nature to Engineering(P,G,S)
Natural adaptation and optimization has led to amazing processes that inspire engineering solutions. Examples include: bone growth (transport in non-advective system), pulmonary surfactants (enhanced mixed fluid migration), gas migration in the GI track (recovering gas from hydrate bearing sediments), kidney stones (adaptive deformable filters), bioactivity in sediments (bio-engineering ground modification), roots (self-adaptive, self-healing foundation systems), ant tunneling (best excavation strategy for a given soil and moisture), hornero nest (optimal adobe construction), bio-sensors.

Particulars of the Particulate: Phenomena in granular materials at the particle/pore-scales (P,G,S)
The complex nature of granular materials and their intricate behavior in the context of engineering applications remain challenging after a century of extensive scientific research and engineering advances. Fascinating underlying phenomena and processes are revealed as selected examples of coupled thermo-hydro-bio-chemo-mechanical processes that take place in granular materials are analyzed at the particle/pore scales.

John J. Shea

Myths of "Modern" Human Origins (G)
For decades paleoanthropologists have distinguished recent "behaviorally-modern" humans from the earliest member of our species, Homo sapiens. This distinction reflects two longstanding myths in human origins research. The first myth is that the European Upper Paleolithic "revolution" 40,000 years ago marks a crucial turning point in prehistory. The second is there is a unifying trend to human evolution. This lecture challenges both of these myths. The European Upper Paleolithic features impressive art and it is well-documented by archaeologists, but it is just the record of one region, and not one necessarily representative of the whole world. Archaeologists' use of the Upper Paleolithic as a universal standard for human behavioral modernity is an artifact of history. It reflects the fact that archaeology began in Europe, a continent to which humans dispersed relatively late and not in Africa, where our species actually originated. If there were a trend in human behavioral evolution, it should be apparent in the archaeological record for Eastern Africa, the region with the longest fossil record for Homo sapiens. Analysis of variability in stone tool technology over the last 275,000 years in Eastern Africa reveals no trend in human behavioral evolution, but instead a wide range of behavioral variability from before our species origins to recent times. Such differences as there are between earlier and later stone tools, (chiefly microlithic technology) reflect changes in toolmaking strategies, not the evolution of "behavioral modernity". This evidence provides no support for a categorical distinction between the earliest members of our species and ourselves. Early Homo sapiens were no less capable of varying their behavior to deal with novel evolutionary challenges than we are. They were different from us, but not inferior. Trend theories about human evolution have a long history of being wrong. The "behavioral modernity" theory is wrong, too.

The Handaxe's Tale: Stone Tools and Human Evolution (G)
Stone tools are the most durable record of human evolution, outnumbering human fossils from the last 2.5 million years by several orders of magnitude.  But what do we know about them and how do we know it?  (We say “dull as a stone”, but the edges of stone tools are sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel.)  This lecture introduces the basics of stone tool technology, surveying what archaeologists know from mechanics, from experiments, and studies of recent stone-tool-using people around the world.  Next the lecture introduces the Acheulean handaxe.  Handaxes were first made by Homo erectus more than 1.5 million years ago and retained in the toolkits of Neandertals and Homo sapiens as recently as 45,000 years ago.  They are found throughout most of Africa, Europe, and Asia.  Large and symmetrical, handaxes were among the first stone tools presented as proof of human geological antiquity in the 19th Century.  They are the most intensively-studied and measured stone tools in the archaeological record, and yet, the reasons for their popularity, and their abandonment remain an enigma.  This lecture explores some of these theories and culminates with an actual demonstration (15-20 minutes) of the production of an Acheulean handaxe.

Paul D. Simmons

The Great Embryo Stem Cell Debate: Galileo Redivivus? (P,G)
The Galileo episode reflects a number of the elements of the recent debate regarding human embryo stem cell research. The conflict between religion and science reflects priorities and philosophical assumptions that need careful and critical examination. The effort to impede scientific progress should bear a heavy burden of proof and recognize the human need for medical breakthroughs in this very promising area. Four major reasons will be given to support embryonic research.

"Intelligent Design: is this the end of evolution? (P,G)
Intelligent Design claims to rival or displace the theory of evolution but I argue it is both bad theology and bad science. It has no credible standing as science and appeals to terribly problematic notions such as "irreducible complexity." It also appeals to religious piety as believing the unprovable and improbable. I believe there are major deficits in ID that make it incredible that it would ever be taught in a classroom for science.

"Neuroscience and the Spirit: Has Science proven the existence of God?" (P,S)
The findings that religious impulses are related to chemical activity in the brain has raised the intriguing question as to whether people are hard-wired for belief in God. The issue for religion is whether brain activity is proof of divine activity in human life. Might God be the subject of scientific research after all? These and other questions will be posed in the light of new breakthroughs in brain imaging. "Proofs" are variable, of course, and amount to what makes of them. I find it incredible to believe that brain activity is, as such, evidence of God's invasion of human life and thought. I will bring illustrations from science and religion that pose profound questions for an easy reliance on such studies.

"Faith in the Public Square: Should we teach religion in the schools?" (P,S)
Strong pressures have been placed on public officials and those running for office to demonstrate their religious faith. Fervent believers insist religious piety would correct immoral and destructive behavior in society, and thus insist we need to teach religion through the public schools. The movement has ardent proponents but poses enormous problems for the social contract and seems a new threat to social harmony.

John A. Turner

Hydrogen Production from Photoelectrochemical Cells: Theoretical considerations and experimental results (S)
To date, no semiconducting material has been discovered that simultaneously meets all the criteria required for economical hydrogen production via light-driven direct water splitting. Considerable work has been directed at metal oxides due to their expected stability and low costs, unfortunately after 35 years of work little progress has been made, efficiencies for these oxides remains very low. For a viable material, semiconductors for photoelectrochemical water splitting must have the same fundamental internal quantum efficiency as the commercial high efficiency PV devices. Multi-component transition metal oxides are complex materials, making intuitive guesses impossible and a focused search very challenging. So to achieve suitable photo-electrode materials, the electronic properties of the materials and their response to defect formation must be understood. A computational approach may be the only approach that can give us the necessary insight into these mixed metal oxides and allow us to narrow the composition space leading us towards a successful material. The highest efficiency PV devices are III-V material based and likewise the highest efficiency PEC water splitting devices are III-V based. This report will discuss issues relating to metal oxides and summarize our efforts on III-V materials and their application to tandem cells for photoelectrochemical water splitting.

Frontiers, Opportunities and Challenges for a Hydrogen Economy (P,G)
Energy carriers are the staple for powering the society we live in. Coal, oil, natural gas, gasoline and diesel all carry energy in chemical bonds, used in almost all areas of our civilization. But these carriers have a limited-use lifetime on this planet. They are finite, contribute to climate change and carry significant geopolitical issues. If mankind is to maintain and grow our societies, new energy carriers must be developed and deployed into our energy infrastructure. Hydrogen is the simplest of all the energy carriers and when refined from water represents a sustainable energy carrier, viable for millennia to come. This talk with discuss the challenge for sustainable production of hydrogen, along with the promise and possible pathways for implementing it into our energy infrastructure.

James L. Van Etten

Giant Viruses Change the Perception of Viruses (G)
The recent discovery of really, really big viruses is changing our views about the nature of viruses and the history of life. For example, some of these giant viruses have more genes (over 1000 protein encoding genes and many tRNA encoding genes) than many bacteria. Furthermore, these viruses are being discovered with increasing frequency. Finally, there is accumulating evidence that from an evolutionary viewpoint these viruses are very old. The lecture will talk about some of these concepts and then talk about the giant viruses that infect green algae that he has worked on for the past 30 plus years.

Algae as Candidates for Biofuel (G)
Interest in algae as a feedstock for biofuel production has risen in recent years because projections indicate that algae can produce lipids (oil) at a rate significantly higher than agriculture-based feedstocks. The lecture will mention the advantages of using algae for this purpose as well as the many hurdles that have to be overcome to make this economically feasible.

Bryant York

Computatational Thinking, Visualization and the Advancement of Science in the Twenty- First Century (G)
In this talk I will discuss the roles of computational thinking and visualization in advancing computing research and science in the rest of this century. It is well accepted that mental visualization is critical to the development of thought experiments, which are often the portals to new science. Within a given individual, the interplay between biological, cultural, social, psychological, religious, and cognitive structures will impact visualization construction. In turn, little is understood concerning how the constructed visualizations are mysteriously mapped to cognitive symbolic and computational structures supporting logical inference and scientific discovery. I will present examples from various cultural perspectives to highlight different approaches and potentially unique geometries of thought for diverse cultural groups. The talk will conclude with some thoughts on potential pathways, both computational and visual, for thought experiment enhancement in diverse young researchers.

Prime Number Graphs, Factoring, and Self-similarity (S)
I present work in progress on a novel graph-theoretic view of prime numbers, the self-similarity of corresponding adjacency matrices and some implications for factoring large composites.  A prime number graph is a graph in which the vertices are represented by prime numbers and two vertices are adjacent if the binary representations of their corresponding prime numbers are within a specified Hamming distance.  Specifically, we consider families of prime number graphs, PG^k_N, where the vertex set consists of all primes in the open interval (2,2^N)and two vertices v1 and v2 in PG^2_N  are adjacent if the Hamming distance between them is less than or equal to k – i.e. HD(v1,v2)<= k.  In this work our primary focus is on graphs for k=1,2,3 and N=24,...256.  I present a number of observations, conjectures and preliminary results.