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  • richardmitnick 1:53 pm on January 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cellular division strategy shared across all domains of life, , John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, The three domains of life — archaea bacteria and eukarya — may have more in common than previously thought   

    From Paulson: “Cellular division strategy shared across all domains of life” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    December 18, 2017
    Leah Burrows
    lburrows@seas.harvard.edu
    (617) 496-1351

    1
    SEAS researchers have found that these pink-hued archaea — called Halobacterium salinarum — use the same mechanisms to maintain size as bacteria and eukaryotic life, indicting that cellular division strategy may be shared across all domains of life. (Image courtesy of Alexandre Bison/Harvard University)

    The three domains of life — archaea, bacteria, and eukarya — may have more in common than previously thought.

    Over the past several years, Ariel Amir, Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has been studying how cells regulate size. In previous research, he and his collaborators found that E. coli (bacteria) and budding yeast (eukaryote) use the same cellular mechanisms to ensure uniform cell sizes within a population.

    Now, with a team of collaborators including Ethan Garner, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard, and Amy Schmid, Assistant Professor of biology at Duke University, Amir found that archaea use the very same mechanism.

    The research is published in Nature Microbiology.

    “These findings raise really interesting questions about how cellular mechanics evolved independently across all three domains of life,” said Amir. “Our results will serve as a useful foundation for, ultimately, understanding the molecular mechanisms and evolution of cell cycle control.”

    Archaea are single-celled microorganisms that inhabit some of Earth’s most extreme environments, such as volcanic hot springs, oil wells and salt lakes. They are notoriously difficult to cultivate in a lab and, as such, are relatively understudied.

    2
    Archaea inhabit some of Earth’s most extreme environments, such as this salt lake in Bolivia (Image courtesy of Ariel Amir/Havard SEAS)

    “Archaea are unique because they blend a lot of the characteristics of both bacteria and eukaryotes,” said Dr. Yejin Eun, first author of the paper. “Archaea resemble bacterial cells in size and shape but their cell cycle events — such as division and DNA replication — are a hybrid between eukaryotes and bacteria.”

    The researchers studied Halobacterium salinarum, an extremophile that lives in high-salt environments. They found that like bacteria and budding yeast, H. salinarum controls its size by adding a constant volume between two events in the cell cycle. However, the researchers found that H. salinarum are not as precise as E.coli and there was more variability in cell division and growth than in bacterial cells.

    “This research is the first to quantify the cellular mechanics of size regulation in archaea,” said Amir. “This allows us to quantitatively explore how these mechanisms work, and build a model that explains the variability within the data and the correlations between key properties of the cell cycle. Eventually, we hope to understand just what makes this cellular mechanism so popular across all domains of life.”

    This research was also coauthored by Po-Yi Ho, Minjeong Kim, Lars Renner, Salvatore LaRussa, and Lydia Robert.

    This research was supported in part by the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:19 am on November 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Artificial muscle-like actuators are one of the most important grand challenges in all of engineering, Artificial muscles give soft robots superpowers, John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Origami-inspired muscles are both soft and strong and can be made for less than $1, ,   

    From Paulson: “Artificial muscles give soft robots superpowers” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    November 27, 2017

    Lindsay Brownell
    The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
    lindsay.brownell@wyss.harvard.edu
    (617) 432-8266

    Leah Burrows
    The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    lburrows@seas.harvard.edu
    (617) 496-1351

    Multimedia contact
    Seth Kroll
    seth.kroll@wyss.harvard.edu
    (617) 432-7758)

    Origami-inspired muscles are both soft and strong, and can be made for less than $1.

    1
    Origami-inspired artificial muscles are capable of lifting up to 1,000 times their own weight, simply by applying air or water pressure. (Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering)

    2
    The movement and shape of the artificial muscles is defined by the shape of their internal “skeleton” – in this case, made of notched blocks of foam. (Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering)

    3
    The zig-zag pattern of this muscle’s interior “skeleton” allows the muscle to contract down to a fraction of its original width. (Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering)

    Soft robotics has made leaps and bounds over the last decade as researchers around the world have experimented with different materials and designs to allow once rigid, jerky machines to bend and flex in ways that mimic and can interact more naturally with living organisms. However, increased flexibility and dexterity has a trade-off of reduced strength, as softer materials are generally not as strong or resilient as inflexible ones, which limits their use.

    Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have created origami-inspired artificial muscles that add strength to soft robots, allowing them to lift objects that are up to 1,000 times their own weight using only air or water pressure. The study will be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    “We were very surprised by how strong the actuators [aka, “muscles”] were. We expected they’d have a higher maximum functional weight than ordinary soft robots, but we didn’t expect a thousand-fold increase. It’s like giving these robots superpowers,” said Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and one of the senior authors of the paper.

    “Artificial muscle-like actuators are one of the most important grand challenges in all of engineering,” said Robert J. Wood, corresponding author of the paper and the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the SEAS. “Now that we have created actuators with properties similar to natural muscle, we can imagine building almost any robot for almost any task.” Wood is also a Founding Core Faculty member of the Wyss Institute.

    Each artificial muscle consists of an inner skeleton that can be made of various materials, such as a metal coil or a sheet of plastic folded into a certain pattern, surrounded by air or fluid and sealed inside a plastic or textile bag that serves as the skin. A vacuum applied to the inside of the bag initiates the muscle’s movement by causing the skin to collapse onto the skeleton, creating tension that drives the motion. No other power source or human input is required to direct the muscle’s movement; it is determined entirely by the shape and composition of the skeleton.

    “One of the key aspects of these muscles is that they’re programmable, in the sense that designing how the skeleton folds defines how the whole structure moves. You essentially get that motion for free, without the need for a control system,” said first author Shuguang Li, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wyss Institute and MIT CSAIL. This approach allows the muscles to be very compact and simple, and thus more appropriate for mobile or body-mounted systems that cannot accommodate large or heavy machinery.

    “When creating robots, one always has to ask, ‘Where is the intelligence – is it in the body, or in the brain?’” said Rus. “Incorporating intelligence into the body (via specific folding patterns, in the case of our actuators) has the potential to simplify the algorithms needed to direct the robot to achieve its goal. All these actuators have the same simple on/off switch, which their bodies then translate into a broad range of motions.”

    The team constructed dozens of muscles using materials ranging from metal springs to packing foam to sheets of plastic, and experimented with different skeleton shapes to create muscles that can contract down to 10 percent of their original size, lift a delicate flower off the ground, and twist into a coil, all simply by sucking the air out of them.

    Not only can the artificial muscles move in many ways, they do so with impressive resilience. They can generate about six times more force per unit area than mammalian skeletal muscle can, and are also lightweight; a 2.6-gram muscle can lift a 3-kilogram object, which is the equivalent of a mallard duck lifting a car. Additionally, a single muscle can be constructed within ten minutes using materials that cost less than $1, making them cheap and easy to test and iterate.

    These muscles can be powered by a vacuum, a feature that makes them safer than most of the other artificial muscles currently being tested. “A lot of the applications of soft robots are human-centric, so of course it’s important to think about safety,” said Daniel Vogt, co-author of the paper and Research Engineer at the Wyss Institute. “Vacuum-based muscles have a lower risk of rupture, failure, and damage, and they don’t expand when they’re operating, so you can integrate them into closer-fitting robots on the human body.”

    “In addition to their muscle-like properties, these soft actuators are highly scalable. We have built them at sizes ranging from a few millimeters up to a meter, and their performance holds up across the board,” said Wood. This feature means that the muscles can be used in numerous applications at multiple scales, such as miniature surgical devices, wearable robotic exoskeletons, transformable architecture, deep-sea manipulators for research or construction, and large deployable structures for space exploration.

    The team was even able to construct the muscles out of the water-soluble polymer PVA, which opens the possibility of robots that can perform tasks in natural settings with minimal environmental impact, as well as ingestible robots that move to the proper place in the body and then dissolve to release a drug. “The possibilities really are limitless. But the very next thing I would like to build with these muscles is an elephant robot with a trunk that can manipulate the world in ways that are as flexible and powerful as you see in real elephants,” said Rus.

    This research was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:06 pm on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, , The new metasurface connects two aspects of light known as orbital angular momentum and circular polarization (or spin angular momentum), The physics of light   

    From Paulson: “A strange new world of light” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    November 2, 2017
    Leah Burrows
    lburrows@seas.harvard.edu
    (617) 496-1351

    1
    A metasurface uses circularly polarized light to generate and control new and complex states of light, such swirling vortices of light. The new tool can be used to not only explore new states of light but also new applications for structured light. (Image courtesy of Second Bay Studio/Harvard SEAS)

    There’s nothing new thing under the sun — except maybe light itself.

    Over the last decade, applied physicists have developed nanostructured materials that can produce completely new states of light exhibiting strange behavior, such as bending in a spiral, corkscrewing and dividing like a fork.

    These so-called structured beams not only can tell scientists a lot about the physics of light, they have wide range of applications from super resolution imaging to molecular manipulation and communications.

    Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a tool to generate new, more complex states of light in a completely different way.

    The research is published in Science.

    “We have developed a metasurface which is a new tool to study novel aspects of light,” said Federico Capasso, the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS and senior author of the paper. “This optical component makes possible much more complex operations and allows researchers to not only explore new states of light but also new applications for structured light.”

    The Harvard Office of Technology Development has protected the intellectual property relating to this project and is exploring commercialization opportunities.

    The new metasurface connects two aspects of light, known as orbital angular momentum and circular polarization (or spin angular momentum). Polarization is direction along which light vibrates. In circularly polarized light, the vibration of light traces a circle. Think about orbital angular momentum and circular polarization like the motion of a planet. Circular polarization is the direction in which a planet rotates on its axis while orbital momentum describes how the planet orbits the sun.

    2
    A metasurface can generate strange new beams of light that swirl and corkscrew. The black hole in the center of these vortices can be used to image features smaller than half a wavelength of light or move tiny molecules. (Video courtesy of the Capasso Lab/Harvard SEAS)

    The fact that light can even carry orbital momentum is a relatively recent discovery — only about 25 years old — but it’s this property of light which produces strange new states, such as beams in the shape of corkscrews.

    Previous research has used the polarization of light to control the size and shape of these exotic beams but the connection was limited because only certain polarizations could convert to certain orbital momentums.

    This research, however, significantly expands that connection.

    “This metasurface gives the most general connection, through a single device, between the orbital momentum and polarization of light that’s been achieved so far,” said Robert Devlin, co-first author of the paper and former graduate student in the Capasso Lab.

    The device can be designed so that any input polarization of light can result in any orbital angular momentum output — meaning any polarization can yield any kind of structured light, from spirals and corkscrews to vortices of any size. And, the multifunctional device can be programmed so that one polarization results in one vortex and a different polarization results in a completely different vortex.

    “This is a completely new optical component,” said Antonio Ambrosio, Principal Scientist at Harvard Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS) and co-first author of the paper. “Some metasurfaces are iterations or more efficient, more compact versions of existing optical devices but, this arbitrary spin-to-orbital conversion cannot be done with any other optical device. There is nothing in nature as well that can do this and produce these states of light.”

    One potential application is in the realm of molecular manipulation and optical tweezers, which use light to move molecules. The orbital momentum of light is strong enough to make microscopic particles rotate and move.

    “You can imagine, if we illuminate the device with one polarization of light, it will create a force of a particular kind,” said Ambrosio. “Then, if you want to change the force, all you need to do is change the polarization of the incoming light. The force is directly related to the design of the device.”

    Another application is high-powered imaging. The black hole in the center of the vortex, known as the zero-light intensity region, can image features smaller than the diffraction limit, which is usually half of the wavelength of light. By changing the polarization of light, the size of this center region can be changed to focus different-sized features.

    But these beams can also shed light on fundamental questions of physics.

    “These particular beams are first and foremost of fundamental scientific interest,” said Noah Rubin, co-first author of the paper and graduate student in the Capasso Lab. “There is interest in these beams in quantum optics and quantum information. On the more applied side, these beams could find application in free-space optical communication, especially in scattering environments where this is usually difficult. Moreover, it has been recently shown that similar elements can be incorporated into lasers, directly producing these novel states of light. This may lead to unforeseen applications.”

    The paper was co-authored by J.P. Balthasar Mueller and supported in part by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:49 am on October 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Endless thirst and search for research knowledge, John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Low-cost self-driving technology for power wheelchairs, Maya Burhanpurkar, , , Writing algorithms, Writing code   

    From Paulson: Women in STEM- “Driven to discover” Maya Burhanpurkar 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    October 18, 2017
    Adam Zewe

    1
    Harvard freshman Maya Burhanpurkar spent the past year developing software for a low-cost, self-driving technology for power wheelchairs, and writing super-fast algorithms to process data from one of the world’s most powerful telescopes. (Photo by Adam Zewe/SEAS Communications.)

    Before she arrived on campus this fall, Harvard freshman Maya Burhanpurkar already had a notch in her belt typically reserved for Ph.D. candidates. First author of a paper on a low-cost, self-driving technology for power wheelchairs, Burhanpurkar presented the research at the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitative Robotics.

    Sharing her work with hundreds of scientists from around the world was exhilarating, Burhanpurkar said, and another milestone in a research career that began at age 7.

    “I was always asking questions. Eventually, I started asking questions people didn’t have answers to, so I started doing my own projects,” she said.

    2
    Maya Burhanpurkar discusses the low-cost, self-driving technology for power wheelchairs she and a University of Toronto team developed. (Image courtesy of Reuters.)

    The intrepid elementary school student, who grew up in a rural town 100 miles north of Toronto, set out to determine if herbs could kill pathogenic bacteria. She commandeered a piece of raw chicken meant for that night’s dinner, left it on the deck for a few days, and then swabbed it onto Petri dishes. In her basement microbiology laboratory, she piled herbs onto the Petri dishes and put them into a homemade incubator she built with a cooler and electric blanket.

    At Canada’s National Science Fair, Burhanpurkar showcased her incredible results—no bacterial growth meant the herbs must have killed the bacteria. A Science Fair judge quickly, but kindly, pointed out that the bacteria actually died due to suffocation.

    That experience only fueled Burhanpurkar’s desire to conduct more research. She began contacting professors and, while in ninth grade, joined a University of Toronto lab to build an apparatus that can physically detect the time integral of distance. The project earned her a second Grand Platinum award at the National Science Fair.

    Through middle and high school, she built a quantum key distribution system for cryptography at the Institute for Quantum Computing, tracked near-earth asteroids for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and embarked on an expedition to study the impact of climate change on the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic. The latter project led her to write and produce an award-winning climate change documentary titled “400 PPM.”

    3
    Burhanpurkar at Jakobshavn fjord on the west coast of Greenland. (Photo provided by Maya Burhanpurkar.)

    “Research really drew me in because of the opportunity to answer unanswered questions,” she said. “It is so fascinating that you can make fundamental discoveries about the universe around us.”

    Not even an early acceptance by Harvard could disrupt her focus on research; Burhanpurkar deferred admission to work on the self-driving wheel chair technology during a gap year. Her University of Toronto team sought to develop a hardware and software package that would make it easier for people with severe physical disabilities to use power wheelchairs.

    “People with hand tremors or more severe Parkinson’s Disease or ALS really struggle with a joy stick or an alternate input device, like a sip and puff switch,” she said. “These people often have degraded mobility and a degraded quality of life.”

    Burhanpurkar developed a core part of the software for the semi-autonomous system that is capable of localization, mapping, and obstacle avoidance. The software utilizes off-the-shelf computer vision and odometry sensors rather than expensive 3D laser scanners and high-performance hardware, so it is more cost-effective than other devices, Burhanpurkar said.

    Despite her lack of coding experience, she wrote a specialized path-planning algorithm that enables autonomous doorway detection and traversal simply by placing the wheelchair in front of a door. She also helped develop software for autonomously traveling down long corridors, and docking at a desk, typically very difficult tasks for users with upper body mobility impairments.

    “The challenge was what I enjoyed the most. I got thrown off the deep end in this project and I had to swim my way up, which was really fun,” she said. “It was intellectually interesting, but it was also emotionally interesting. Working on something that can directly impact people’s lives in the near future, not decades away, is really exciting.”

    But that was only half of Burhanpurkar’s gap year. She spent the other half as the youngest paid researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (where Stephen Hawking keeps an office), writing super-fast algorithms for a novel telescope in British Columbia. The telescope will continually map the entire northern hemisphere in an effort to learn more about cosmic fast radio bursts.

    4
    Burhanpurkar working on code at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment telescope in British Columbia. (Photo by Richard Bowden.)

    Each day, the planet is bombarded by high-energy millisecond duration bursts of radio waves, each having the energy of 500 million of our suns, but scientists remain puzzled about their origins. This new telescope will enable researchers to gather data on thousands of these bursts, opening the door for more detailed analysis.

    Terabytes of astronomical data will be generated each second, so the super-fast algorithms Burhanpurkar and the team wrote are necessary to efficiently process the mass of information.

    “I know that right now my code is running on a new 128-node supercomputer in British Columbia, and it is going to help detect one of the most enigmatic phenomena of the universe,” she said. “That’s pretty cool.”

    Now at Harvard, Burhanpurkar is not planning to slow down. She is interested in continuing her robotics research and working with the i-Lab to bring the cost-effective self-driving wheelchair technology to consumers.

    While she hasn’t decided on a concentration, she is considering computer science and physics (or both), and looks forward to pursuing her passion for research down new avenues.

    “Taking a gap year was great for perspective,” she said. “Before, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I hadn’t really done long-term research projects, but now, I have actual experience and I know what the end goal is. I can use that to motivate me.”

    5
    Burhanpurkar interviewing Canadian author and environmental activist Margaret Atwood for her climate change documentary titled “400 PPM.” (Photo provided by Maya Burhanpurkar.)

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:52 pm on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, , NAE-National Academy of Engineering, ,   

    From Wyss: Women in STEM: “Jennifer Lewis elected to National Academy of Engineering” 

    Harvard bloc tiny
    Wyss Institute bloc
    Wyss Institute

    February 9, 2017 [Egad!! I guess this was really important to Wyss. This neglect is more like Rutgers]
    Leah Burrows

    1

    Jennifer A. Lewis, a Core Faculty member of the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

    Lewis’ research focuses on the design and fabrication of functional, structural and biological materials. Her pioneering work in the field of microscale 3D printing is advancing the development of electronics, soft robotics, lightweight structures, and vascularized human tissues.

    Lewis is an inventor on more than 40 pending or issued patents and founded the startup company Voxel8, Inc., to commercialize the first multi-material 3D printing for the fabrication of embedded electronics.

    She is among 84 new members elected to the NAE, chosen for their outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education and their pioneering work into new and developing fields of technology. Lewis is being honored for her “development of materials and processes for 3-dimensional direct fabrication of multifunctional structures.”

    Lewis earned a Sc.D. in Ceramic Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her many honors include the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow Award, the Brunauer and Sosman Awards from the American Ceramic Society, the Langmuir Lecture Award from the American Chemical Society and the Materials Research Society Medal. She is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, the National Academy of Inventors and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8, 2017.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Wyss Institute campus

    The Wyss (pronounced “Veese”) Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering uses Nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world.

    Working as an alliance among Harvard’s Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Tufts University, and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:01 am on September 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences   

    From Paulson: “From sea to rising sea: Climate change in America” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    1
    Climate change and health in America. No image credit

    Climate change will affect every American in the coming decades — the question is, to what degree?

    9.13.17
    Leah Burrows

    So, the climate is getting warmer. Who cares?

    Climate change has a PR problem in America.

    For decades, we called it ‘global warming,’ an innocuous-sounding phrase invoking a gentle increase in worldwide temperatures, like turning up the thermostat in a house.

    “People asked, so the climate is getting warmer. Who cares?” said Michael B. McElroy, the Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at Harvard University. “And scientists are partly to blame for that because of how we’ve described climate change.”

    It’s been difficult to get Americans worried about a 1-degree increase in temperature over a 100-year period, especially when most of the images associated with global warming — crumbling ice sheets or a lonely polar bear padding across a melted landscape — feel so distant.

    But climate change is here. Mitigating the effects of global warming — better described as irreversible changes to the climate structure — is about more than saving the planet in the longer term; it’s about saving human lives in the near term.

    From severe storms and catastrophic flooding to record-breaking droughts and deadly wildfires, Americans are living with the consequences of a changing climate every day. Still, the majority of Americans did not believe climate change would harm them personally, according to a Yale University study [no citation]. That connection — between climate change and human health — has been, in large part, missing from public conversations and political debate in America today.

    2
    Howe, Peter D., Matto Mildenberger, Jennifer R. Marlon, and Anthony Leiserowitz (2015). “Geographic variation in opinions on climate change at state and local scales in the USA.” Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2583

    Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are exploring that connection between human health and a changing climate. Among their findings: In Pennsylvania, days with dangerously high surface ozone levels could increase by 100 percent in the coming decades, increasing the risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases in children. Wildfires in Washington could choke densely populated areas for days with thick, harmful smoke. Severe storms in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas and adjoining states could deplete protective ozone in the stratosphere, exposing humans, livestock and crops to harmful ultraviolet radiation.

    3
    No image caption or credit.

    The Eastern U.S.: The heat is rising

    If the world were to cut all of its carbon emissions tomorrow, temperatures have already risen enough to cause more severe and prolonged heat waves. Extreme heat has serious impact on human health. Depending on humidity levels, prolonged exposure to 100-plus degree days can lead to heat stroke and dehydration, as well as cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular diseases.

    In the past decade, extreme heat waves in the U.S. have killed hundreds of people, mostly elderly and poor in urban areas, and cost tens of billions in damage. Northern cities, such as Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, which are less prepared to deal with excessive temperatures, will likely face the brunt of the public health burden of heat waves in coming years.

    With little ability to stop future heat waves, the best option to mitigate damage is preparation. Improving our ability to accurately predict heat waves can save lives.

    Most current models cannot forecast beyond about 10 days and seasonal models have limited ability to predict extreme events. In 2012, for example, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecasted normal summer temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest U.S. Instead, the regions experienced three separate, record-breaking heat events in June and July that resulted in more than 100 deaths.

    4
    Peter Huybers, professor of earth and planetary sciences and of environmental science and engineering (Photo courtesy of Eliza Grinnell)

    Peter Huybers, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and of Environmental Science and Engineering at SEAS, is working to understand and predict these deadly temperature spikes. Huybers and his lab identified sea surface temperature patterns that can predict increased odds of extreme heat waves in the eastern U.S. up to 50 days in advance. Those patterns — like a fingerprint on the surface of the Pacific Ocean — consistently precede heat waves in the eastern U.S.

    The Huybers team found that lack of precipitation, which is known to contribute to heat waves, is also associated with this finger print — known as the Pacific Extreme Pattern. While it does not guarantee that a heat wave will strike, seeing this pattern significantly increases the odds of one happening.

    “Our technique was able to predict previous heat waves, including the deadly heat waves of 2012, and was skillful when applied to earlier events between 1950 and 1980,” said Huybers. “However, the technique doesn’t predict the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, reminding us that other environmental factors must also be important.”

    Huybers and his colleagues are continuing to research this connection, pushing the horizon on predicting summer heat waves in the eastern U.S.

    With more time to prepare, utility companies could ensure they have enough power options to deal with a spike in demand; farmers could alter irrigation tactics to prevent crop loss; city planners could set up cooling spaces for the elderly or those without air conditioners and step up programs to track homeless people and homebound, chronically ill older Americans.

    As the air warms due to global climate change, Northeastern urban and suburban areas could also see an increase in ground level ozone — the nasty chemical compound that makes up the majority of smog, especially in summer.

    Ground level ozone is created by chemical reactions involving oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sunlight. Factories, power plants and cars produce most of the NOx in the U.S.

    Ozone is well known to cause serious respiratory illness and is especially dangerous for children, seniors, and people suffering from asthma.

    “Even short-term exposure to ozone over a few hours or days has been linked to serious health effects,” said Loretta J. Mickley, Senior Research Fellow in Chemistry-Climate Interactions in the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group. “High levels of ozone can exacerbate chronic lung disease and increase death rates.”

    _______________________________________________________________________
    The power of regulation

    It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed in the face of global climate change but legislative action can make a difference when it comes to the environment. Elsie Sunderland, the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, found that regulations requiring the reduction of mercury emissions had a larger impact on the environment than researchers previously thought. Between 1990 and 2010, global mercury emissions from manmade sources declined 30 percent. The reduction in atmospheric mercury was most pronounced over North America, where mercury had been gradually phased out of many commercial products and controls were put in place on coal-fired power plants that removed naturally occurring mercury from the coal being burned.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Researchers have long known that temperature and ozone are linked — the hotter the temperature, the higher the ozone levels. However, researchers have also established that if the temperatures rise above the mid-90s Fahrenheit, this relationship can break down. So, the question is: how will rising global temperatures impact the severity and frequency of days with dangerously high levels of ground ozone, known as ozone episodes?

    Mickley and her team are unraveling the complex relationship between ozone and rising temperatures in the U.S.

    In 2016, graduate student Lu Shen and Mickley found that if local and global emissions continue unchecked and temperatures rise as projected, the U.S. could see a 70- to 100-percent increase in dangerous ozone episodes, depending on the region.

    The Northeast, California and parts of the Southwest, would be most affected, experiencing up to nine additional days per year of unhealthy ozone levels in the next 50 years. The rest of the country could experience up to three additional days of unhealthy ozone.

    What does that mean for health in the U.S.? Hospital admissions and emergency department visits would increase, cases of chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, would increase, and more people could die from respiratory illness.

    “We need ambitious emissions controls to offset the potential of more than a week of additional days with unhealthy ozone levels,” said Mickley.

    The good news is, we’ve already seen the powerful effect regulation has on ozone levels in the U.S. Between 1990 and 2016, ozone levels decreased significantly, especially on the east coast, thanks to the Clean Air Act and its amendments, which targeted ozone precursors.

    The bad news is that high temperatures can upend that trend.

    5
    The graph shows 15 years of surface ozone measurements in Madison County, Illinois. Since 1990, ozone decreased over time due to the powerful Clean Air Act and its amendments, which reduced emissions of ozone precursors. But very hot temperatures — as seen in 2012 — buck that trend. A similar pattern was seen at measuring sites across the country. A full, interactive map is available here.

    Mickley and her team are also developing tools to predict when and where Americans are most at risk for increased levels of ozone in the short-term.

    The researchers found that high levels of summertime ozone in the Eastern U.S. are correlated with large-scale meteorological patterns in the spring, including sea surface temperatures. The team used this relationship to predict average summertime ozone levels one season in advance.

    “A prediction tool could act as an early warning system to communities most at risk for high-ozone days,” said Mickley. “Local communities could mobilize resources and plan protocols to help its most at-risk citizens, including children and seniors, during episodes in the upcoming ozone season. Such protocols could include advisories for people to stay indoors.”

    6
    No image caption or credit.

    Brewing storms in the Midwest

    As temperatures increase and more water vapor evaporates into the atmosphere, storms will become more frequent and more intense — especially in the Midwest.

    Flooding and damage associated with these storms is a threat to the lives and livelihood of the 60 million people living in the Midwestern states, especially farmers who rely on predictable rainfall patterns. But the intensity of these storms, combined with factors unique to the Great Plains region, may also damage the protective ozone layer that shields life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

    James G. Anderson, the Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at SEAS and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, is studying this phenomena. In 2012, his team discovered that during intense summer storms over the Midwest, water vapor from these storms is injected deep into the stratosphere. By studying ozone loss over the Arctic in winter, Anderson and his collaborators established that combinations of both temperature and water vapor convert stable forms of chlorine and bromine into free radicals capable of transforming ozone molecules into oxygen, implicating storm-injected water vapor in the loss of ozone over the U.S. in summer.

    By using advanced radar techniques, Anderson and his team, including researchers at Texas A&M and the University of Oklahoma, recently found that thousands of storms each summer penetrate the stratosphere to provide fuel for these reactions — far more than previously thought.

    “Rather than large, continental scale ozone loss that occurs over the polar regions in winter, these radar observations and our new high accuracy, high spatial resolution temperature measurements found that the structure of ozone loss in the central U.S. is highly localized over numerous regions,” said Anderson.

    These reactions, depending on the temperature of the stratosphere, could trigger a 12- to 17-percent decrease in ozone in the lower stratosphere one week after a storm. This corresponds to a 2- to 3-percent decrease in stratospheric ozone in the region of enhanced water vapor. Even a 1-percent decrease in stratospheric ozone can lead to a 3-percent increase in skin cancer in humans – there are three and a half million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in the U.S. alone. Since ultraviolet radiation also impairs the molecular chemistry of photosynthesis, such a change could also have a major effect on agriculture in the Midwest.

    “This isn’t about just human health, this is about crop yields, livestock, and the ability to function for extended periods outside in the summer,” said Anderson.

    Anderson and his lab are developing new platforms to observe this phenomena in action. Central to that effort is a research platform called the StratoCruiser, a super-pressure balloon designed to collect data at an average of 75,000 feet — well into the stratosphere.

    Powered by an array of solar cells, the StratoCruiser will fly above the central U.S. for four to six weeks, collecting data on how water vapor injected into the stratosphere alters the properties of particles and initiates the series of chemical reactions that destroy ozone.

    Anderson and his team are developing sensing instruments sturdy enough to withstand winds and rain from intense convective storms yet lightweight enough to allow the instrument package, suspended on a Kevlar filament below the balloon, to sample air between 40,000ft and 75,000ft.

    The instruments have to work at temperatures ranging from minus 120 degrees to plus 90 degrees Fahrenheit, withstand the low pressure of the upper atmosphere, power themselves and operate autonomously for the six-week mission.

    SEAS undergraduates in Anderson’s Engineering Problem Solving and Design Project (ES 96) are playing an important role in solving these design challenges. The student team who designed a spectrometer that measures hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the atmosphere was awarded $200,000 from NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project grant. The new instrument will be launched by NASA fall 2017 from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico.

    Another ES 96 project for undergraduates involves designing and building a new class of instruments to measure free radicals and other reactive species from solar powered stratospheric aircraft. These instruments, which will collect data over the U.S. continuously for three months, will provide the ability to forecast the amount of UV radiation projected for specific regions of the Great Plains states in summer. The solar powered stratospheric aircraft can also circumnavigate the globe to obtain observations related to the response of the climate structure to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and methane.

    One of the biggest questions Anderson and others want to answer is whether or not the process of ozone depletion is reversible.

    Anderson knows how well-communicated science can spur action on climate change. It was his research in the late 1980s that finally proved the link between chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from aerosol cans, air conditioners and refrigerators and the Antarctic ozone hole. The discovery was the key step towards public acceptance of the connection, which ultimately led to the phase-out of CFCs under 197-country Montreal Protocol signed in 1987.

    “We saw the power of regulation and legislation when global powers got together and decided to ban CFCs,” said Anderson. “After that, we thought we’d solved the problem of ozone depletion. Now, it could be made much worse than we thought by climate change. If we continue on this course, decreases in ozone and associated increases in UV dosage could be irreversible.”

    7
    No image caption or credit.

    The West is burning

    In 2016 alone, more than 67,000 wildfires burned over 5.5 million acres in the U.S., an area equivalent to the size of New Jersey. If global warming continues on pace, the models predict that by 2050 the wildfire season in the western U.S. will be about three weeks longer, twice as smoky, and will burn more area. In the coming decades, the area burned in August could increase by 65 percent in the Pacific Northwest; could nearly double in the Eastern Rocky Mountains/Great Plains; and quadruple in the Rocky Mountains Forest region.

    8
    Liu, JC, LJ Mickley, MP Sulprizio, X Yue, K Ebisu, GB Anderson, R Khan, ML Bell. 2016. Particulate Air Pollution from Wildfires in the Western US under climate change. Climatic Change. 138 (3): 655-666. View the interactive map here.

    But wildfires threaten more than land and homes. The smoke they produce contains particles that can contaminate the air hundreds of miles away. As wildfires increase in frequency and intensity, more and more communities are at risk of prolonged exposure to harmful levels of smoke, including heavily populated areas such as California’s San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, and King County in Washington.

    Mickley and the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group are developing tools to predict how wildfires will impact air quality. The work is part of a collaboration with Yale University.

    Between 2004 and 2009, about 57 million people in the western U.S. experienced a smoke wave, a term Mickley and her colleagues coined to describe two or more consecutive days of unhealthy levels of smoke from fires. Between 2046 and 2051, the team estimated more than 82 million people are likely to be affected by smoke waves, mostly in Northern California, Western Oregon and the Great Plains, where fire fuel is plentiful.

    8
    Loretta J. Mickley, Senior Research Fellow in Chemistry-Climate Interactions (Photo courtesy of Eliza Grinnell/Harvard SEAS)

    All across the western U.S., climate change will likely cause smoke waves to be longer, more intense, and more frequent. About 13 million more children and seniors — who are at higher risk for respiratory illness — will be affected by smoke waves compared with the present day.

    Mickley and her team have developed a model to predict, at the county level, areas most at risk for smoke waves. The model would allow local governments or the U.S. Forest Service to prioritize these areas in fire mitigation efforts such as clearing out dry underbrush or performing controlled burns.

    “No matter what ignites a wildfire, whether by lightning or human carelessness, the spread of a fire is determined by the availability of dry, easily combustible fuel,” said Mickley. “We’re currently seeing and we will continue to see in future decades, warmer temperatures increase the supply of such fuel. The massive fires of 2016 are likely an indication of what’s to come.”

    _______________________________________________________________________

    How we know what we know

    For nearly 20 years, the GEOS-Chem global transport model has provided hundreds of research groups around the world insight into the chemical composition of the atmosphere and how it is being impacted by human activity. Developed by Daniel Jacobs, the Vasco McCoy Family Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at SEAS and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and housed at Harvard University, the open source model is an international standard for modeling pollution. Since its inception, the model has been used to understand the global biogeochemical cycling of mercury; the intercontinental transport of air pollution, which is critical to EPA’s setting of air quality standards; and has added considerably to the knowledge of worldwide emissions of pollutants and climate gases.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Pollution knows no borders

    It’s not just the continental U.S. that is facing health consequences from global climate change. Alaska, Hawaii and many American territories are on the front lines of climate change.

    In 2016, a DC-8 loaded with scientific instruments took off from Palmdale, California, ascending through a sky thick with wildfire smoke and smog from nearby Los Angeles.

    It was a fitting start to the first leg of the Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom), led by Steven C. Wofsy, the Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science at SEAS and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Since 2016, the ATom mission has made two trips around the world — pole to pole — taking atmospheric measurements to understand how pollution and greenhouse gasses move through the atmosphere.

    The ATom mission, in partnership with NASA, will fly a total of four trips around the world. The data it collects will help improve the accuracy of the environmental models that inform climate policies.

    That first leg gave the research team a sobering view of the scope of climate change in America and American territories. Several hours after leaving the searing heat and wildfires of California, the team flew over Alaska, where large dark pools of water disrupted what should have been a continuous sheet of white, polar ice.

    “The contrast between the environments could not have been more dramatic yet, both places were experiencing huge impacts from the warming climate,” said Wofsy.

    And even though no major fires were burning in northern Alaska when the ATom team conducted their first mission, the researchers recorded high levels of pollution from wildfires burning hundreds of miles away, in the forests of Siberia.

    “Pollution can be transported anywhere,” said Roisin Commane, research associate in environmental science and engineering at SEAS and member of the ATom team. “We saw pollution thousands of miles from shore, in what should have been some of the cleanest air in the world. We saw pollution from Asia transported over the Pacific Ocean and pollution from the U.S. over the Atlantic. Pollution has no borders.”


    Wofsy and Paul Newman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center sent back a video postcard of the first two legs of their Atmospheric Tomography, or ATom mission. The science team first traveled from Palmdale, California, to Anchorage, Alaksa, by way of the North Pole, and on their second leg flew south to Kona, Hawaii. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space flight Center/Michael Randazzo)

    Engineering hope

    These consequences of global warming in the U.S. also know no borders— it affects young and old Americans, East Coast urbanites and Midwestern farmers.

    In addition to leading efforts to understand the systems that contribute to a warming planet, researchers at SEAS are also developing new tools and technologies to help reverse, or at least slow, the process. That includes projects aimed at generating clean power and storing it in long-lasting batteries.

    Eric Mazur, the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, has researched the properties of nanoscale structures in silicon, which have promising applications to improve the capacity of solar cells. Jennifer Lewis, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering, has helped develop materials for carbon capture and sequestration.

    Professors Michael Aziz, the Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies; and Roy Gordon, the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science, are developing non-toxic, long-lasting and cost effective flow batteries to store power from intermittent energy sources, like wind and solar.

    SEAS undergraduates are getting involved in the effort as well on Harvard’s campus.

    In an ES96 class, SEAS students worked with the university’s Office for Sustainability to evaluate approaches to climate change resilience and develop strategies to enhance the integrity of the electrical grid, cool buildings during extreme heat, and minimize damage from flooding.

    “While we may have dysfunction in Washington, parts of the U.S. are doing serious things about climate change,” said McElroy. “California and New England are shining examples. Mayors of major U.S. cities have been leaders in tackling these issues. So, on the optimistic side, there are signs that people can get together and get things done.”

    It’s important not to lose that optimism, said Wofsy.

    He and the ATom team saw something else on that first flight from California: solar and wind farms generating carbon-free electricity.

    “This sight was much more hopeful,” Wofsy said. “If we apply our minds and resources to the problem, we can make significant progress in slowing the increase in atmospheric CO2. But it’s a generational challenge.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:31 pm on May 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Barbara Grosz, , Everett Mendelsohn Award, John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,   

    From Paulson: Women in STEM – “Barbara Grosz wins graduate mentoring award” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    May 17, 2017

    1
    Barbara Grosz

    Grosz honored during 19th annual Everett Mendelsohn Award Ceremony.

    Barbara Grosz, Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has received the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Graduate Student Council.

    The award, presented to five individuals this year, honors faculty advisors who have gone above and beyond in guiding students along their path to the Ph.D. Students nominate their advisors for the award, which is named in honor of Everett I. Mendelsohn, Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus, and a former master of Dudley House.

    The award celebrates the essential nature of strong mentoring at the graduate level and highlights the crucial role Grosz and her fellow awardees play in fostering caring and intellectually exciting departmental communities.

    A pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, Grosz seeks to address fundamental problems in modeling collaborative activity, developing systems (“agents”) able to collaborate with each other and their users, and constructing collaborative, multi-modal systems for human-computer communication.

    She has also played an important role as a mentor to women in science and engineering, serving on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Women in Academic Science and Engineering and on the Association for Computing Machinery Women’s Council Executive Board.

    Grosz’ past doctoral students include Martha Pollack, President of Cornell University; Ehud Reiter, Chair in Computing Science at the School of Natural and Computing Sciences, University of Aberdeen; Luke Hunsberger, Professor of Computer Science at Vassar College; and Cécile Balkanski, Associate Professor at IUT d’Orsay, Université Paris-Sud.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:38 am on April 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, New geometrical framework, Optical microcomponents, , Sculpting optical microstructures with slight changes in chemistry, Self-assembled crystal microstructures,   

    From Harvard Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineeringvia phys.org: “Sculpting optical microstructures with slight changes in chemistry” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    Harvard bloc tiny
    Wyss Institute bloc
    Wyss Institute

    phys.org

    1
    A mathematical model (left) uses a geometrical framework to explain how previous patterns grew and predict new carbonate-silica structures (right, imaged by scanning electron microscopy). Credit: Wim L. Noorduin/ C. Nadir Kaplan/ Harvard University

    In 2013, materials scientists at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering, grew a garden of self-assembled crystal microstructures. Now, applied mathematicians at SEAS and Wyss have developed a framework to better understand and control the fabrication of these microstructures.

    Together, the researchers used that framework to grow sophisticated optical microcomponents.

    The research is published in Science.

    When it comes to the fabrication of multifunctional materials, nature has humans beat by miles. Marine mollusks can embed photonic structures into their curved shells without compromising shell strength; deep sea sponges evolved fiber optic cables to direct light to symbiotically living organisms; and brittlestars cover their skeletons with lenses to focus light into the body to “see” at night. During growth, these sophisticated optical structures tune tiny, well-defined curves and hollow shapes to better guide and trap light.

    Manufacturing complex bio-inspired shapes in the lab is often time consuming and costly. The breakthrough in 2013 was led by materials scientists Joanna Aizenberg, the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and Chemistry and Chemical Biology and core faculty member of the Wyss Institute and former postdoctoral fellow Wim L. Noorduin. The research allowed researchers to fabricate delicate, flower-like structures on a substrate by simply manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid. These structures, composed of carbonate and glass, form a bouquet of thin walls.

    What that research lacked then was a quantitative understanding of the mechanisms involved that would enable even more precise control over these structures.

    Enter the theorists.

    Inspired by the theory to explain solidification and crystallization patterns, L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, Physics, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and postdoctoral fellow C. Nadir Kaplan, developed a new geometrical framework to explain how previous precipitation patterns grew and even predicted new structures.

    Mahadevan is also core member of the Wyss Institute.

    In experiments, the shape of the structures can be controlled by changing the pH of the solution in which the shapes are fabricated.

    “At high pH, these structures grow in a flat manner and you get flat shapes, like side of a vase,” said Kaplan, co-first author of the paper. “At low pH, the structure starts to curve and you get helical structures.”

    When Kaplan solved the resulting equations as a function of pH, with a mathematical parameter standing in for the chemical change, he found that he could recreate all the shapes developed by Noorduin and Aizenberg—and come up with new ones.

    3
    Researchers used a new framework to grow sophisticated optical microcomponents, including trumpet-shaped assemblages that operate as waveguides. Credit: Wim L. Noorduin/Harvard University

    “Once we understood the growth and form of these structures and we could quantify them; our goal was to use the theory to come up with a strategy to build optical structures from the bottom up,” said Kaplan.

    Kaplan and Noorduin worked together to grow resonators, waveguides and beam splitters.

    “When we had the theoretical framework, we were able to show the same process experimentally,” said Noorduin, co-first author. “Not only were we able to grow these microstructures, but we could also demonstrate their ability to conduct light.”

    Noorduin is now a group lead at the Dutch materials research organization AMOLF.

    “The approach may provide a scalable, inexpensive and accurate strategy to fabricate complex three-dimensional microstructures, which cannot be made by top-down manufacturing and tailor them for magnetic, electronic, or optical applications,” said Joanna Aizenberg, co-author of the paper.

    “Our theory reveals that, in addition to growth, carbonate-silica structures can also undergo bending along the edge of their thin walls,” said Mahadevan, the senior author of the paper. “This additional degree of freedom is typically lacking in conventional crystals, such as a growing snowflake. This points to a new kind of growth mechanism in mineralization, and because the theory is independent of absolute scale, it may be adapted to other geometrically constrained growth phenomena in physical and biological systems.”

    Next, the researchers hope to model how groups of these structures compete against each other for chemicals, like trees in a forest competing for sunlight.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Wyss Institute campus

    The Wyss (pronounced “Veese”) Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering uses Nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world.

    Working as an alliance among Harvard’s Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Tufts University, and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs.

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:01 am on August 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brian Fountaine, John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences   

    From Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: “The art of science” 

    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    August 23, 2016
    Adam Zewe

    In Harvard summer program, soldier-turned-scholar finds inspiration in research

    1
    Brian Fountaine (Eliza Grinnell/SEAS Communications)

    Brian Fountaine’s sketchpad is filled with detailed drawings of human organs and meticulous diagrams of scientific experiments. For the aspiring graphic designer, a rising senior at Northeastern University, the images are strikingly different from the illustrations he typically produces.

    Fountaine put his creative eye to use as an artist-in-residence this summer in the lab of Kit Parker, Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics. He joined the lab as a participant in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, which enables college students to work on scientific projects in the labs of Harvard researchers.

    For the 34-year-old, working in a research lab at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has been both surreal and unexpected.

    Growing up in a tight-knit blue-collar family, Fountaine never planned on attending college. Immediately after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army, deploying to Iraq with the initial post-9/11 invasion in 2003. During his second deployment in 2006, tragedy struck. While on patrol near Baghdad, the Humvee he was commanding detonated a pressure plated improvised explosive device. The resulting blast blew off Fountaine’s lower legs.

    “When I finally work up, I was in Germany, on a ventilator and hooked up to all these machines,” he said. “I started the long process of learning to walk again, and learning how to live my life again.”

    It wasn’t easy. Lacking any clear goals, Fountaine sunk into a deep depression. He had planned on making a career out of the military, but that dream had been shattered. Fountaine’s wife, Mary, finally convinced him to give college a chance.

    “My whole idea of what college life was like came from movies like ‘Van Wilder’ and ‘Animal House.’ I thought it was a big joke,” he said.

    Using the Army’s vocational benefits, he enrolled in Cape Cod Community College and quickly found that higher education appealed to him. He added more and more classes until he was full-time, graduating with as associate’s degree in graphic design. He transferred to Northeastern University to complete a bachelor’s degree.

    “I gravitated toward graphic design because I’ve always been artistic. I was really good with my hands and enjoyed sculpting, drawing, and painting,” he said. “I really liked learning new things again.”

    Fountaine started at Northeastern shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, a devastating tragedy that struck especially close to home for the double-amputee. He began sneaking into the hospital and meeting with survivors who had lost limbs, sharing words of encouragement and advice.

    “I felt this calling where I had to help out and do something,” he said. “I told them that it’s not the end of the world. You might have lost some limbs—your body might be different—but your heart and your spirit are still intact. You can still accomplish things in life that you’ve always wanted to do.”

    As he developed close relationships with injured civilians, Fountaine learned about their struggles to afford prosthetic devices. Military benefits covered his medical expenses, but these individuals often had to make sacrifices to afford prosthetic devices.

    Fountaine wanted to help, and saw 3D printing technology as a potential solution. Printing limbs from durable carbon fiber could be significantly faster and cheaper than current processes. He submitted a proposal to the Ford Motor Company’s College Community Challenge, and won $35,000 to purchase 3D printers and software for the project. His work caught the attention of the local press.

    Parker, an Army combat veteran, read Fountaine’s story and was inspired by his dedication to help others. He reached out to Fountaine and invited him to join his lab group for the summer as part of the REU program.

    “When they first contacted me, I didn’t know how to take it,” Fountaine recalled. “A research lab at Harvard University? This was a foreign idea to me. I had never thought about working in a science field before.”

    Fountaine spent the 10-week program working closely with researchers in the Parker lab, documenting experiments and drawing diagrams and figures for research papers. He created acrylic diagrams of organs, carefully colorized microscopic images, and enhanced computerized illustrations of organs on a chip.

    That research, in particular, resonates with Fountaine. Organs on a chip could enable physicians to run drug screens through a microchip to see if they would be effective or have negative side effects on a specific patient. Another project that piqued his interest focuses on nanofibers to improve wound care.

    “As an amputee, I went through a lot of wound care. And I’ve been on dozens of medications, some which didn’t work well and others that had really bad side effects,” he said. “It has been really interesting and inspiring to see people working on projects that will not only benefit me, but also my fellow brothers and sisters in arms who have been hurt and are trying to live normal lives again.”

    That’s not to say that the work is always easy. Creating detailed figures for journal articles, for instance, requires one to stick to a strict set of design parameters. Fountaine, used to more artistic freedom, has had to tailor his personal style to the needs of the researchers and publications.

    But he still squeezes in a bit of artistic flair wherever he can. As he’s learned more about science, he has seen striking parallels between the scientific world and the artistic one.

    “If you look hard enough, there is a lot of beauty in science,” he said. “A molecular-level image of cells or fibers is full of different forms, colors, and tones.”

    While Fountaine has enjoyed his time in the Parker lab, he is already looking to the future. With one year of college left, he is hoping to launch a nonprofit organization to develop 3D-printed prosthetics.

    The experience in Parker’s lab opened his eyes to the power of science, and has helped him to understand some of the principles of engineering, lessons that will be critical as he works with mechanical engineers to develop effective and affordable 3D-printed prosthetics.

    He hopes his story can inspire other injured veterans to pursue an education and take on large-scale challenges.

    “After I got hurt, I had to decide if I was going to laugh about this or if I was going to cry about it,” he said. “I chose a long time ago that I was going to laugh about it. And it helps. Have a good sense of humor and find some purpose. Find that next objective and strive for it. Grab it and don’t let go.”

    2
    Working in the lab of Kit Parker has taught graphic designer Brian Fountaine that there is beauty in science. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell/SEAS Communications.)

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Through research and scholarship, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will create collaborative bridges across Harvard and educate the next generation of global leaders. By harnessing the power of engineering and applied sciences we will address the greatest challenges facing our society.

    Specifically, that means that SEAS will provide to all Harvard College students an introduction to and familiarity with engineering and technology as this is essential knowledge in the 21st century.

    Moreover, our concentrators will be immersed in the liberal arts environment and be able to understand the societal context for their problem solving, capable of working seamlessly withothers, including those in the arts, the sciences, and the professional schools. They will focus on the fundamental engineering and applied science disciplines for the 21st century; as we will not teach legacy 20th century engineering disciplines.

    Instead, our curriculum will be rigorous but inviting to students, and be infused with active learning, interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and engineering design experiences. For our concentrators and graduate students, we will educate “T-shaped” individuals – with depth in one discipline but capable of working seamlessly with others, including arts, humanities, natural science and social science.

    To address current and future societal challenges, knowledge from fundamental science, art, and the humanities must all be linked through the application of engineering principles with the professions of law, medicine, public policy, design and business practice.

    In other words, solving important issues requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    With the combined strengths of SEAS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools, Harvard is ideally positioned to both broadly educate the next generation of leaders who understand the complexities of technology and society and to use its intellectual resources and innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

    Ultimately, we will provide to our graduates a rigorous quantitative liberal arts education that is an excellent launching point for any career and profession.

     
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