Magical Matter @ MOST
Oct 20 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speakers: Neal Abrams, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, SUNY-ESF; and Miriam Gillett-Kunnath, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: Ready to summon some science? Join the TACNY Jr. Café on October 20th to see the magical chemistry behind glowing pumpkins, magical genies, luminescent liquids, time telling potions, and mysterious fog. Dr. Neal Abrams from SUNY ESF and Dr. Miriam Gillett-Kunnath from Syracuse University will present a series of interactive magical Halloween chemistry demonstrations that will be sure to delight young and old alike.

Biography: Neal Abrams is an associate professor of chemistry at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). He obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and certification in teaching from Ithaca College and completed his doctorate at Penn State. At ESF, he instructs courses in general chemistry and renewable energy. He also leads research programs in the areas of renewable energy and methods for teaching science. He is also the faculty advisor for the ESF chemistry club. Abrams enjoys working with students and educators in the community. As part of this commitment, he leads renewable energy workshops for teachers, instructs a series of courses on solar panel installation, and guest lectures in classrooms across Syracuse and CNY as part of the ESF in the High School program. He is currently the Education Chair for the CNY Section of the American Chemical Society.

Miriam Gillett-Kunnath is a research assistant professor of chemistry at Syracuse University (SU). She obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Le Moyne College and completed her doctorate and post-doctorate at Syracuse University and Notre Dame University, respectively. At SU, she assists in mentoring and teaching research while helping with the management of the Chemistry SC-XRD and PXRD lab. Gillett-Kunnath, along with her husband Bobby Kunnath, works with local high school students to connect them with research in the STEM disciplines. Her passion towards building a local STEM Ecosystem has led her to learn from, volunteer, and work with SU-chemistry outreach, ACS-CNY, STA-NYS, TACNY and the MOST. [Outreach Motto: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”—Isaac Newton]


Mind, Body and Code: Two Students Talk Science @ MOST
Nov 17 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Talk 1: “You Are What You Eat,” by Rachel Elman, Senior at Fayetteville Manlius Senior High School, and Student Researcher, Department of Biology, Syracuse University

Talk 1 Overview: We’ve all been told that unhealthy food makes for an unhealthy consumer. Decades of research has shown that the United States “western diet”, full of high fats and sugars, is detrimental to our health. This consumption has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome, a collection of cardiovascular risk factors that serve as a precursor to type two diabetes, a life threatening disease that impacts synthesis and release of insulin. But what if our western diet wasn’t just bad for the health of our bodies, but was bad for the health of the brain as well? See how a fellow student aimed to answer this question, and explore a line of research that seeks to understand the complicated effects of our food on our brain.

Biography: Throughout her high school career, Rachel has worked as a student researcher in a neurobiology laboratory at Syracuse University. This SU lab’s research interests focus on the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, while her own research has centered on the cognitive effects of a “western” high fat diet through investigating synthesis of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the rat brain and body. Rachel entered her project into the Central New York science and engineering fair this past year and won the grand prize. Her more recent research focuses on BDNF function in female rats with variations of the val/met polymorphism of the BDNF gene. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys reading, travel with her family, and participating in special Olympics unified sports and volunteering in her school’s special education department.

Talk 2: “Cracking the Code of AI,” by Maximilian Du, Junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High school, and Student AI Researcher and Developer

Talk 2 Overview: It seems that computers are now something that we can’t live without. From the smartphones in our pockets to the supercomputers that drive us ever closer to curing cancer, they have become more and more important in our daily lives. Unfortunately, because of their abundance, we often forget how incredibly complicated they really are. A lot goes into every “Ok Google”, every self-driving car’s turn, and every recommended video on YouTube, but as different as these tasks sound, they all have a singular driving force: Artificial Intelligence. Come learn about this concept that used to only belong on the pages of science fiction books and see what an aspiring AI researcher is doing to help expand this powerful tool to uncharted domains.

Biography: Always interested in science, Max has a home chemistry lab and electronics workbench, and enjoys tinkering around and fixing whatever is broken. Throughout his high school years, he has not only been fascinated with electrical engineering and chemistry, but also with artificial intelligence and its application towards real-life problems. Last year, Max designed a novel and non-invasive infant monitor that monitors breathing sounds from a baby using Recurrent Neural Networks, a form of artificial intelligence, to monitor for SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He entered this project into the CNYSEF this past March and won the grand prize along with two other contestants, and competed in Intel ISEF, winning two special awards. In his free time, Max enjoys playing tennis, gardening, and most of all, figuring out what fascinating and often profound thing he should do next for fun.


Virtual Reality for Real Life! @ MOST
Dec 15 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speaker: Amber Bartosh, RA, LEED AP BD+C, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture Syracuse University, and Co-Director, Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL)

Talk Overview: Have you seen the movie Ready Player One? Did you see how the characters co-exist in the physical environment and the virtual world? What if I told you that that future is already here? Come see how new hybrid reality technologies (which seem like video games!) are actually informing our everyday environments. Try on a Virtual Reality headset and witness how the virtual and physical are always intertwined. Energy and information flows are moving around us all the time. Plus! Learn how you can create your own 360 degree virtual environments as well.

Biography: Amber Bartosh is a LEED-accredited architect and interior designer who has designed and managed award-winning projects in the United States, China, Kuwait, and the U.A.E. She received her B.A. in Art and Architecture from Rice University and her M.Arch from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Amber is currently an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University School of Architecture, a Syracuse Center of Excellence Faculty Fellow, and co-director of the Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL). Her work focuses on the architectural application of emergent materials through physical prototyping and advanced visualization technologies including virtual reality simulation.


Exploring the Most Extreme Corners of the Universe @ MOST
Feb 16 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speaker: Stefan W. Ballmer, PhD, Associate Professor of Physics, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: Come along on a journey to explore the most extreme corners of the universe. We will encounter places where every-day geometry stops working and the time stands still. We will witness black holes and neutron stars on collision courses, smashing into each other at half the speed of light, producing some of the biggest known explosions in the universe. And I will take you behind the curtains of a brand-new, one-of-a-kind astronomical observatory: The Advanced Laser Gravitational-Wave Interferometer, a machine capable of measuring the vibrations in the fabric of space and time.

Biography: Stefan Ballmer, associate professor of physics at Syracuse University, is an authority on gravitational-wave detector technology. He has logged thousands of hours at the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Richland, Washington putting together the Advanced LIGO interferometer. He was a member of Advanced LIGO’s design team and is now designing the next generation of gravitational-wave detectors. Rounding out his contributions to LIGO’s Nobel Prize-winning work have been an NSF CAREER Award at Syracuse, Visiting Associate Professor positions at the University of Tokyo, a Robert A. Millikan Fellowship at Caltech; and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, underwriting research at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Ballmer earned a Ph.D. from MIT in the group Rai Weiss and a Master’s degree from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. In his spare time, he is also a pilot and flight instructor in the local Syracuse Flying Club, exploring the 3rd dimension here on earth.


Bacteria – The Good, the Bad and the Healthy @ MOST
Mar 16 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speaker: Olga Makhlynets, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: Humans developed a complicated relationship with bacteria. The number of bacteria in our body is about the same as the number of human cells, and the total mass of bacteria is about half a pound. Good bacteria that live in the gut help us digest food. Bad bacteria make us sick. Learn about the interplay between our immune system and pathogens and the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Biography: Dr. Olga Makhlynets is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Syracuse University. Prof. Olga Makhlynets received her PhD in 2011 from Tufts University, and subsequently she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her current interests focus on fundamental problems at the interface between chemistry and biology. Prof. Makhlynets enjoys working with students and trained a number of young scientists, many of whom now pursue scientific careers. Outside the lab and classroom, she spends free time gardening, painting and making glass beads.


Sensing Your Health: A Small Drop Goes a Long Way @ MOST
Apr 20 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speaker: Xiyuan ‘Lillian’ Liu, PhD, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: What would you do with one droplet of fluid? Can you imagine how much information can be extracted from one droplet of sweat, tear or blood? Do you believe that by wearing a custom t-shirt, socks or a headband, the information related to your health conditions can be gathered in real time? The newest advances in wearable microtechnology can help us achieve that. Join us to have some hands-on experience and learn microfluidics and wearable sensors!

Biography: Xiyuan Liu is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Department of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering. She received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering in China in 2009 and then completed her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University. After that, Lillian finished her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University. She specializes in microfluidics, point-of-care diagnosis and flexible wearable biosensor technology. Specifically, her work focuses on developing biosensing, lab-on-a-chip systems for the emerging applications in clinical diagnosis, wearable sensing and mobile heath (mHeath) technology.


Drone Days of May – Technology and Trends of Unmanned Aircraft @ MOST
May 18 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speaker: Kip White, Sales Manager, United Radio, Communications Division

Talk Overview: Kip will fly us through the basics of sUAS including a little history, flight systems, different drone airframe designs, physics of flight and a brief look into the future. We will also have a discussion on uses of small, unmanned aircraft systems as a possible career path. We will set up an area outside for live flying demonstrations.

Biography: Kip spent most of his career in the electronic security industry as a technician, technical manager, sales person, sales manager and general manager. Upon leaving the security industry, he took on the role as a project manager of a multimillion-dollar commercial construction project. He joined United Radio early in 2017 to work with their Communications Division. With an interest in aviation and the knowledge that first responders are a major customer of United Radio, Kip took on the mission of educating Police and Firefighters on the uses and benefits that sUAS drones can bring to their departments.


Who Killed King Tut and Why Spinning Neutrons Can Tell Us Who Really Did It! @ MOST
Jun 15 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Speaker: James T. Spencer, PhD, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Chemistry (Department of Chemistry), and Founding Executive Director, Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) at Syracuse University

Talk Overview: One of the greatest forensic mysteries, not to mention the greatest single archeological find in history, relates to what happen to King Tut over 3,300 years ago. Today, he is probably the most famous and recognizable of all the pharaohs from ancient Egypt. But, it’s only through a sequence of highly unlikely events that Tut gained his preeminent place in history. Ever since the discovery of his untouched tomb and mummy, people have been intrigued by what led to the demise of the teenage King. Medical findings at the time of his discovery pointed to murder and, since then, people have sought to find out “Who Killed King Tut!” Today, however, the seemingly insignificant application of spinning neutrons has led to a surprising and radical change in how we view the entire case of King Tut.

Biography: Dr. Spencer received his bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Potsdam and his Ph.D. from Iowa State University of Science and Technology. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Virginia and joined the faculty at Syracuse University in 1986. In 2013, he received the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence, the highest award recognition for SU faculty and staff in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and creative work. He also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from University College in 2009 and has served as the Associate Dean for Science, Mathematics and Research in the College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Spencer has received several honors for his research work, including the “Distinguished Achievements in Boron Science” Award from the BUSA International Conference. He has authored of over 80 papers, a textbook in Forensic Science, 7 patents and has presented over 150 research lectures at regional, national and international meetings on his work. The FNSSI brings together work from many disciplines and provides a program of excellence, uniquely positioned to make significant contributions to combat crime and promote national security through research, teaching, and professional outreach: the nation’s first program that comprehensively focuses upon the breadth and depth scholarship in forensic and national security sciences and is establishing groundbreaking research based upon rigorous scientific investigation and technical ability. His popular course, Introduction to Forensic Science, has been offered to over 20,000 students, both on and off the SU campus.