TACNY Jr. Cafe Scientifique


February 16 – Exploring the Most Extreme Corners of the Universe

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.

RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org.

March 16 – Bacteria: The Good, the Bad and the Healthy

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.

RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org.

April 20 – Sensing Your Health: A Small Drop Goes a Long Way

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.

RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org.

May 18 – Drone Days of May: Technology and Trends of Unmanned Aircraft

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.

RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org.

June 15 -Who Killed King Tut and Why Spinning Neutrons Can Tell Us Who Really Did It!

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.

RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org.

About Junior Cafe Scientifique
Junior Café Scientifique is sponsored by the Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY) and usually held on the third Saturday of the month at 9:30 a.m. during the school year at the MOST. A light breakfast is provided, and participants must be accompanied by an adult. The event is free, but TACNY asks that you RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org. After the event, participants are welcome to explore the museum for free.