Have you ever watched the bubbles in your drink dance around the glass, only to meet their demise at the surface? Despite their short lifespan and effervescent nature, bubbles do some serious work in the industrial sector. The manufacture of synthetic fuels, fermentation and biological wastewater treatment all rely on the behavior of bubbles. By studying the way bubbles move in fluids, engineers are able to improve manufacturing processes and reduce the cost of products we use every day.
About Bahman: Bahman knows there’s way more math in your cup of coffee than you’ve probably ever thought about. As a postdoctoral fellow in Mechanical Engineering, he creates mathematical models to describe how fluids behave in order to improve products. Bahman is driven by the desire to understand the world around him and use that knowledge to make life easier. He hopes to run a research lab of his own one day and spends his free time as a cinephile. One of his favorite movies is probably a fan favorite of this crowd too: Battlestar Galactica.
"Engineering Hot Cars to Cool the Climate"
The United States is second only to China in the emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas attributed to global warming. According to a recent report by NASA, emissions from automobiles are the single largest contributor to harmful gases across the world. Engineers are working on a way to reform these mechanical offenders by literally reshaping them to improve fuel economy with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions drastically. They test their designs with the help of some savvy, cutting-edge technology. In the words of Gandhi, “The future depends on what we do today!”
About Siddhesh:Siddhesh's passion for science is driven by the desire to learn something new every single day. He has found his fit as a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering where he works to reduce carbon emissions from cars. Siddhesh grew up in the bustling city of Bombay, but has been in Ann Arbor for three years and loves it. When he is not wracking his brain over computer codes and equations in lab, he likes to play volleyball, ping pong, salsa dancing and kayaking.
"Fine Tuning Lasers of the Future"
Lasers are undoubtedly awesome to any self-proclaimed nerd. They’re coolest part of any SciFi movie, and as a kid all it took was the added “pew pew” to turn your finger into a deadly weapon. In real life, lasers are just as amazing and are used for everything from data storage to eye surgery and material processing. To meet the expanding applications for lasers, engineers are working to improve laser technology by using equally an expanding set of innovative techniques.
About Michael: Michael could hold his own in a conversation about lasers with Leonard Hofstadter from the Big Bang Theory. As a PhD student in electrical engineering, he is working to create better, stronger, cheaper lasers for use in surgeries and other applications. When Michael is not working, he participates in a group for optics students, as well as the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
"Driverless Cars: The Worst Computer Crash You Could Ever Have"
In just a few short years you could scroll through Facebook, eat your lunch or even meditate while driving. With major players like Google, Apple, Tesla and Ford (just to name a few) working on driverless cars, it’s only a matter of time before we are absolved of our attention to driving. But how do these computers avoid crashes in an unpredictable environment full of pedestrians and squirrels with an apparent death wish? Engineers are focusing on the safety issues by teaching the computers that take the wheel to be a perfect chess opponent.
About Jiechao: Jiechao is fascinated by the concept of automation and is currently working on teaching driverless cars how to avoid collisions at high speeds. He is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, who wishes to work as a control engineer after completing his degree. When he isn’t devising complicated algorithms, he can be found listening to music or reading novels.
"Small Scales, Big Problems: Miniaturizing Biology for Better Answers"
To study big, complicated problems, like urban planning or navigating Mars with an unmanned vehicle, professionals use accessible, cheaper models before doing the real thing. The same is true in biomedical research where the big, complicated problems are things like drug efficacy or disease progression. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t quite found the best model for a system as complex as a human. To solve this problem and accelerate the pace of research, engineers are developing a model system that not only mimics specific cells found in the body, like a liver or heart cell, but also tthe complex interactions in the entire human body.
About Joe: Joe is solving one of the major complications in biological research by developing a model system of the human body. He is inspired to make processes like drug discovery and human health research more efficient and accurate. He is a PhD student in biomedical engineering and is interested in science policy issues. Joe also enjoys playing sports and, in true Ann Arbor form, is a beer fanatic.
"Engineering a Better Cancer Diagnosis"
Though discovering a lump often prompts the devastating news of a cancer diagnosis, the deadliest part of having cancer could be lurking in the bloodstream. In fact, over 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused when cancer cells in the bloodstream invade other organs of the body and cause secondary tumors. Engineers and doctors are working together to develop a device that processes small amounts of blood through channels the size of a human hair to capture cancer cells for study. This tool has the potential to personalize the study of cancer and change the landscape of cancer treatment for the better.
About Molly: Molly is working to improve the technology used to diagnose cancers as a PhD student in Chemical Engineering. She is particularly interested in the field of chemical engineering because it gives her the tools to do pretty much anything to solve real, human problems. When she is outside of the lab she enjoys reading, running and optimizing her baking experiments.
"Fire and Destruction Meet Their Match"
Have you ever looked at your frail fire sprinkler system, the one that can easily be defeated by a hanger holding a jacket, and thought “I’m not sure that would do much to save me from a fiery death”? Well, you’re probably right. Luckily, civil engineers are working to save you from your burning building--no capes or superpowers necessary. These researchers are exploring ways to make buildings safer in the event of a major fire by studying how and why structures collapse.
About Ha: Ha’s career was inspired by the relatively simple dream to building her own house. Now she studies the performance of different structures in a fire and how to prevent buildings from collapsing in fire as a PhD student in Civil Engineering. Ha is from Vietnam, where very few women are engineers. Her biggest aspiration is to become a successful female leader, either in corporate world or entrepreneurship, and serve as a role model for other women. Outside of lab, Ha likes to expand her knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship, leadership, and sustainability. Her hobbies include traveling, outdoor activities, dancing Argentine Tango, and taking on new challenges.
"The Battle for Iron: What's all the "Fe"ss about?"
Iron is an important nutrient that we all make sure to get enough of in our diets. Did you know bacteria need it too? Harmful bacteria steal iron from us in impressively sneaky ways when they invade our bodies. Come learn about the battle invading bacteria wage against your body over iron atoms. Those bacteria have some pretty cool tricks up their sleeves, but so do we! That is, if we learn enough about it…
About Ada: Ada is a PhD student in Microbiology and Immunology and spends her days doing recon on the strategies bacteria use to invade our bodies. She is passionate about communicating science because she feels the more we all know about science and how things work, the better choices we can make about our lives. In her spare time she enjoys being outdoors with her dogs and playing World of Warcraft with her husband. Ada is also involved with MiSciWriters, a student-run science writing blog.
"Unraveling the Complexities of Cancer"
From our boss's behavior to our morning routine, patterns allow us to navigate a complex world and they are also helping to turn the tables in the fight against cancer. Despite many breakthroughs over the years, cancer treatments still have severe side effects and there isn’t a cure. Cancer isn’t as uniform of a disease as the name implies, but rather a collection of diseases that look similar with different underlying causes. For the first time medical technology is allowing us to see the complex patterns of genes that drive cancer in our cells. By learning what cancer is and how it happens, we can read the pattern, solve the puzzle, and better treat cancer patients.
About Justin: Justin is finding diabolical ways to kill cancer cells as a PhD student in Molecular and Cellular Pathology. When he is not assassinating cancer cells, he can be found playing ultimate frisbee, guitar, or video gaming. He aspires to keep one foot in the research side of science while stepping into science outreach with the public. He feels it is his job as a scientist to convey the merits of science to the public so we can make informed decisions about current issues like climate change and healthcare.
"Catching Cancer Cells ON THE RUN"
An estimated 1.7 million Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis this year and the success of their battle depends largely on the ability of physicians to personalize treatment options to the biology of a specific tumor. Unfortunately, there are few efficient methods to predict or monitor the treatment outcome for cancer patients. However, engineers are developing a device to detect cancer cells that have detached from the original tumor and are circulating in the bloodstream. From a simple blood draw, these captured cancer cells could give physicians important information to develop personalized treatments for cancer patients.
About Angela: Angela was drawn to science with hopes to make the world a better place and she is doing exactly that. She is currently developing new technologies to capture and study some of the most deadly cancer cells, which will potentially bring benefits to cancer patients. She is working on her PhD in chemical engineering, but when she isn’t at the bench, she likes all kinds of outdoor activities like running, swimming, kayaking and outdoor yoga.
"Flying at 5,000 Degrees Fahrenheit"
Five thousand degrees Fahrenheit is not just hot; it’s scorching. Most materials known to man would melt at this temperature, which may not be a problem in your everyday life, but it’s a huge problem for NASA and the Air Force. Hypersonic flight involves travelling at 7,000 miles per hour, a speed at which you’d cross the entire US in about 17 minutes! With speed comes really, really hot temperatures. Next generation hypersonic vehicles are driving the development of materials that can tolerate extreme chemical and thermal environments and meet the new requirement for structural materials in aerospace technology.
About Jianfeng: Jianfeng is driven by curiosity and not deterred by risks. His work engineering new materials designed to withstand extreme temperatures facilitates the same spirit of curiosity and risk-taking in aerospace technology. He is a PhD student in mechanical engineering, but it also passionate about issues surrounding women in STEM because he believes a more open and equal environment would be beneficial for the development of science. He enjoys reading, cooking, sports and watching soccer games in his spare time.
"The Sound Heard ‘Round the World"
In our daily lives, we’re used to sound traveling as short as a fraction of an inch (like music from headphones) to as far as several hundred yards (like a football game heard several blocks away); however, over even larger distances, like tens, hundreds, or even thousands of miles, sound can do some very weird and unexpected things. We’ll talk about what sound does, why it does it, and how those surprising behaviors may have influenced the course of history.
About Brian: Brian is a PhD student in Applied Physics studying underwater acoustics. He loves his work because it takes acoustics, which almost everyone has everyday experience with in air, and moves it into water, where some very interesting and surprising physics emerges. When he is not doing underwater acoustics research, he can be found learning, teaching, or binge-watching Netflix.
"Building New Drugs with a Chemist’s Toolbox"
Have a nagging headache? Just take a big gulp of snail syrup. Before the 19th century, the field of drug development didn’t exist and “medicine” was limited to an odd mix of natural remedies. Even for most of the 1800s, drug development was focused on the chemistry of purifying the essence of bizarre treatments like snail syrup. In the last hundred years, organic chemistry has made enormous strides in the development of synthetic compounds, or pharmaceuticals as we know them. In this discussion, an organic chemist will give her perspective on the development of drugs for varied diseases including malaria, HIV, and other microbial and fungal diseases.
About Elsa:Elsa is a natural born puzzle addict. She was drawn to chemistry because of her love of solving puzzles in a way that relied on the constraints of chemistry. As a PhD student Elsa is innovating more efficient ways to create beneficial small molecules, or biological drugs. She is planning to run a research and teaching lab at a small liberal arts college after finishing her graduate work. When she isn’t playing with her chemical rubix cubes in lab, she can be found running or… doing jigsaw puzzles.
"Carjacking in the Internet Era"
Most cars sold today are computers on wheels, able to check your tire pressure, enable Bluetooth connections and satellite radio. These conveniences are made possible by the Internet, but that also leaves cars vulnerable to hijacking. Unlike your laptop, anti-virus software is not enough protection from hackers looking to crash your car, track your movements or listen to your conversations. As more and more cars are getting access to the Internet, engineers are increasingly focused on cybersecurity.
About Zheng: For Zheng, growing up in the “Internet Age” kindled her interest in both the benefits and risks involved in the technology. She is now a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering studying security risks in devices that connect to the internet. She hopes to create systems for security so that we can enjoy the upside of the internet while avoiding the downsides.
"Trapping Atoms in the Name of Precision"
Everything you touch is made up of millions of atoms, but each individual atom is much more than a basic building block; each atom has a complex architecture. The minuscule inner workings of atoms can be used to make extremely precise measurements of time, which not only deepens our understanding of the natural world, but can improve technologies we use every day, like GPS devices. However, these near perfect measuring devices from the natural world aren’t without challenges. Physicists are developing ways to overcome these limitations to push innovation forward and answer questions about the universe.
About Jamie: Jamie is a scientist who is clearly mesmerized and inspired by the natural world. She marvels at nature, learns how it works and then borrows those concepts to create useful technology. As a PhD student in physics, Jamie studies one of the tiniest parts of nature, the atom. She is using what she learns from these miniature curiosities to improve the accuracy of technology we use every day, like GPS devices. Jamie is also interested in exposing the beauty and relevance of science to more people, as well as conducting scientific research and education abroad.
"Teaching Machines to See"
Have you ever wondered how your camera detects faces? Or how driverless cars recognize and avoid pedestrians? Taking inspiration from the human brain, researchers in computer vision have developed ways to teach machines to see and understand the world around them. With these advances, computers are getting better at navigating the visual world and may one day see and interact with the world just like humans do. Machines with the ability to understand human actions and interact with us has limitless potential applications in healthcare systems and robotics.
About Johnny: Johnny is chipping away at the divide between machines and mammals by teaching computers to literally see the world like humans do. As a PhD student in computer science and engineering, he builds algorithms that help the machines learn to recognize thousands of objects by providing millions of training examples. He was born and raised in Taiwan and enjoys travelling around the U.S. in his free time.
"Printing Houses in Record Time"
3D printing isn’t just for making customized plastic novelties; this technology packs a punch when multiple materials can be used as “ink”. From printing medicine to food or building materials this technology has the potential to change the landscape of manufacturing. However, most 3D printers have common disadvantages, which are very limited materials for “ink” and a slow fabrication time. Engineers are developing new techniques to overcome these challenges and broaden the use of this technology. Soon you could be printing a pizza or your prescription!
About Haseung:Haseung is working to improve 3D printing technology by expanding the materials that can be used, as well as speeding up the process. He is an assistant professor at Hongik University in South Korea and is currently a visiting scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UM.In addition to conducting research, he also enjoys teaching.
"For DNA, it's Construction Season All Year Long!"
Every cell in our body contains DNA, which is essentially an instruction guide for the proper function and maintenance of our entire body. But did you know that this instruction guide is constantly being damaged everyday? This scrambles up the instructions DNA gives to our cells, which can wreak havoc on our bodies. Luckily we all have special ‘construction workers’ that repair the damaged DNA, but what happens when even these workers can’t fix the problem?
About Ishita: Ishita recently graduated with a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology. She spent the last five years studying how damaged DNA repairs itself--or doesn’t. Also during her graduate career she was actively involved in programs to promote inclusion of underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences. She is pursuing a career in science policy and has an interest specifically in science diplomacy.
"Unsinkable Ships That Don't Drain the Budget"
The US Navy hasn’t had a smaller fleet active ships since 1917; despite growing global threats, this shouldn’t worry you. The ships of 1917 are no comparison to the capabilities of ships today, but with improved technology comes increased cost of production. In the Navy's recent initiatives to transform concept ship designs into operations, the cost issues constantly emerges and results in design failures. Engineers are finding clever ways to keep costs to a minimum while still advancing the field, technologically.
About Yan: Yan started studying ship design when he entered college and has been working in this subject ever since. In 2011, he came to the US to pursue a PhD in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the best ship design program. Yan hopes to lead a marine design project in the future. Outside of his work in the lab, he plays the accordion.
"Everyone can teach a robot"
Ever felt too busy to do the laundry or too tired to cook? What if a robot could help you with all of this someday in the future? Recent developments in robotics are bringing this dream closer to reality by making robots that can imitate people and learn new actions like how to hit a baseball with a bat or dance. Imagine! One day you can teach your own robot how to make your favorite cocktail!
About Zhen: Zhen is a PhD student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and spends her days teaching robots. She says these cold-hearted students frustrate her from time to time, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Zhen wants to work with people who are also passionate about developing friendly, flexible domestic robot for our daily lives. When she is not schooling her robot fleet, she plays volleyball and poker.
"Combating Chemical Warfare"
In 1995, sarin gas was released throughout the Tokyo subway station in a terrorist attack killing 12 people and injuring hundreds. This event not only exposed the ill preparedness of emergency response teams to deal with such a catastrophe, but also the vulnerability of public infrastructure systems in transportation, water treatment, waste disposal, and communications. Civil engineers are creating ways to improve public infrastructure and better deal with such catastrophic events to improve public safety, both in the US and abroad.
About Sara: Sara is working to improve public infrastructure in the event of a catastrophic event by studying public safety scenarios using computer models of airborne contaminants. She is a PhD student in civil and environmental engineering and is interested in STEM outreach and education. In addition to her work on public safety, she has also studying the experiences of Liberian women studying engineering. She also enjoys dancing tango, playing basketball, binge watching tv shows, and getting to know new people and places.
"When More Instructions Means Less Learning"
Learning a new motor skill is tough work. Fortunately our brains have two memory systems that can help us. Unfortunately they sometimes interfere with each other. Understanding why and how this happens may lead to better practice drills. It could also improve rehabilitation protocols for patients who have lost some of their motor skills.
About Lorraine: Lorraine loves science because it allows her to peek behind the curtain of the obvious to see how things tick. She peers into the brain to understand how motor skills are learned and maintained in hopes that knowing more about this process will improve rehabilitation therapy for those with impaired movement. Lorraine is a PhD student in kinesiology who is interested in running a research lab in her home country, France. She enjoys time outdoors, and is also pursuing training in management consulting.
"Cells Power-Failure and Diabetes"
Like electronic devices, the cells of your body also need a power source. The battery pack of the body is a tiny organelle that lives in nearly all cells, the mitochondria. The failure of this energy source can cause all types of system failures. One way this can cause problems is in powering the cells of the pancreas that control glucose levels. When these otherwise healthy cells aren’t being powered up, diabetes can occur. Scientists are starting to unravel the complexities of this disease that affects 400 million people worldwide.
About Xueying: Xueying is an intellectual double threat as a medical student and a PhD student in Internal Medicine. She is from the Hunan Province in China and is visiting Ann Arbor for two years to study exactly how insulin regulation is disrupted in those with diabetes. As a physician scientist, she has a strong interest in improving treatment and management of chronic diseases. She has enjoyed her time in Ann Arbor, especially the nature, music and sports.
"Studying the Genetics of Bipolar Disorder"
What goes on in the brains and bodies of people with mental illnesses is something we know very little about, and finding answers is important in order to remove some of the stigma associated with these diseases. Geneticists are approaching this problem by studying people's genetic data to identify mutations and genes that are causative for Bipolar Disorder; however, this approach is not without its own unique challenges.
About Shweta: Shweta is a PhD student in Bioinformatics who is working to understand how genes and environment work together to influence a mental illness. Her time outside the lab is divided between yoga and reading, and she hope to continue to study genetics for as long as possible, while being able to make other people excited about it along the way.
"Materials for Cars for the Future"
In the past century, cars have been designed and developed with rapid change. A consistent goal is to find effective ways to make the car stronger and lighter. High strength aluminum alloys are important materials for replacing the traditional steel because they are lighter; however, they are also weaker. Engineers are creating innovative ways to make this lighter material stronger. Soon these materials will replace the traditional steel, and cars of the future will be stronger, lighter, and safer.
About James: James is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering where he is working on creating metals that are lighter and stronger to replace traditional materials used to make cars. James is from the Hunan Province in China, which is known for its non-iron based metals. Even in high school he was inspired to think about how he could use the aluminum ore from the mountain beside his house for practical purposes. He hasn’t stopped thinking about this question since.
"Is your water safe?"
Water is one of the most important resources in this world, but safe water is not always easily available. Even here in America, if you walk into an old hotel and see a rusted drinking fountain, you may start to wonder: is this safe to drink? Water safety is a complicated and difficult problem, but we simplified it with a small chip. This chip was fabricated with "cleanroom technology", the same thing they used to fabricate your smartphones and computers, to make it really really tiny. In the near future, you could use a "water quality meter" to tell you about the quality of your water quality easily!
About Wen-chi: Wen-chi is originally from Taiwan, and the unreliable water quality in the area inspired her to find ways to improve the situation. She is working to devise new and better ways to evaluate water quality as PhD student in Chemical Engineering. She is heavily active in the Taiwanese community in Ann Arbor, and enjoys spending her free time learning ballroom dancing, argentine tango and, more recently, pole dancing.
"Manufacturing Diesel: A Microbe Story"
We now have the ability to produce diesel fuel using a genetically modified bacteria that eats carbon dioxide and hydrogen. With this microorganism, diesel fuel can be made practically anywhere using renewable energy and the greenhouse gas, CO2. Such a process has the potential to create a recycling system for this pollutant, preventing further accumulation and harm to our environment. An added benefit is energy security for communities all over the world. Though, there are still a few "bugs" that need to be worked out before a community near you is filling up with biodiesel.
About Eric: Eric is creating safe and sustainable communities with the help of genetically modified microorganisms. He is working to develop bacteria that use air as food and produce a number of useful products, such as a biodegradable plastic and biodiesel. Eric is a PhD student in chemical engineering and is hopeful that his research can solve some aspects of climate change and energy security. When he isn’t busy trying to save the environment, he enjoys spending time with his wife preparing for the birth of his daughter.
Life is a miracle! What makes this miracle happen is that there are thousands of biochemical reactions happening at the same time. These reactions they don't just happen all by themselves and nature has created ways to control and direct these reactions. Scientists are trying to develop ways to control these reactions too. DNA guides the development and function of all known organisms, and many viruses, and its shape gives it a stable and controllable structure. By folding DNA into new structures, scientists are exploring the ability of “repurposed” DNA to control biochemical reactions.
About Jieming: For Jieming, learning science is the key to know more about our world. She also says the more she learns, the more she realizes she doesn’t know which is incredibly exciting to her. Jieming is a PhD student in chemistry who is unravelling the mysteries of how DNA completes its tasks in the body. Outside of lab, she likes reading, cooking, singing, traveling. She isn’t sure yet what she wants to do after grad school, but one thing she is sure about is that she wants to do something to help people understand more about chemistry.
"Using Nano-electronics to Develop a Smart Planet"
Imagine having a refrigerator that can tell you when food has spoiled! The next technological revolution will be turning every appliance we use into a smart device. To create these devices, we need tiny sensors to allow the electronics to interact with the environment. Unfortunately, today these sensors are too large or too expensive. Luckily, engineers are working to reduce this sensor size and cost with the help of nano-sized electronics.
About Matt: Matt is a PhD student in Materials Engineering and works to develop cost effective, miniature sensors to allow electronics to interact with the environment. He dreams of the day we can turn every appliance we use into a smart device. Like many scientists, Matt is driven by the insatiable need to understand the world around him. He also enjoys hiking, kayaking, and watching Netflix, although most of his free time is spent exercising his overly energetic puppy who also loves hiking and being outdoors.