Staff Resources
Community Events

Previous Events and Speakers

Photo of Dave Morton

Dave Morton

Walter P. Murphy Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences

Design, Calibration, and Optimization of Pandemic Alert Systems

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Beginning in April 2020, Dave Morton and collaborators have worked closely with local officials in Austin, Texas, to develop and maintain the COVID-19 alert system that guided public communications and policy decisions. In this talk, Dave will describe a data-driven modeling framework and stochastic optimization model for designing pathogen alert systems that can ensure consistent situational awareness, provide policy guideposts that reduce uncertainty and decision complexity, and enhance public trust and policy adherence.

View recording

Photo of Daniel Abrams

Daniel Abrams

Professor of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics and (by courtesy) Physics and Astronomy; Codirector, Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Engineering tools for studying and augmenting human movement

Thursday, November 9, 2023

This talk will be an overview of various problems Daniel Abrams's group has worked on and approaches they've taken to mathematical modeling of social systems, including approaches that were unsuccessful. Abrams defines a system as "social" when the choices that are best for one individual are inextricably linked to the choices made by other individuals in the group. Some problems in this category include evolutionary dynamics (e.g.: animal ornamentation, the evolution of human left-handedness), social group competition (e.g.: language death, the growth of religiously unaffiliated populations), and the geographic spread of ideas (e.g.: internet adoption, contagion of smoking behavior, or obesity).

View recording

Photo of Eric Perreault

Eric Perreault

Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Associate Dean for Research Administration and Oversight

Engineering tools for studying and augmenting human movement

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

For most of us, the ability to move and interact with people and objects in our environment is an essential aspect of daily life. Any reduction in these abilities through aging, injury, or disease can alter our wellbeing. Our laboratory studies the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying healthy and impaired movement control to provide the foundational understanding needed to guide advancements in rehabilitation medicine. This talk will review three recent projects to provide examples of how we are using tools from engineering to study and augment human movement. The studies presented will be:

  1. The development of new imaging technologies to study muscle
  2. An assessment of how chemotherapy alters sensory processing
  3. The development of brain-machine interfaces for restoring movement after spinal cord injury
Photo of Jennifer Dunn

Jennifer Dunn

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Director, Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience

Are new fuels and materials any more sustainable than today's? Insights from life cycle assessment

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Life cycle assessment (LCA) can quide technology and policy developers towards solutions that move society towards sustainability in the interconnected spheres of energy and materials. Most of these transitions have pitfalls that LCA can help us anticipate and possibly mitigate. I will address three examples of my group's development and application of LA methods towards sustainable societal transitions: 1) biofuels as a complement to vehicle electrification, 2) using mined critical minerals in energy storage materials, and 3) chemical recycling technology for plastics. Together, these examples highlight the potential of life cvcle assessment but also some of its weaknesses and needs for further development.

View recording

Photo of Kris Hammond

Kris Hammond

Professor of Computer Science

Talking with the Machine: An approach to human/computer communication

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

It is clear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the world in ways that no other set of technologies ever have. The numbers alone simply do not provide us with what we really need: information and insight. The data and the algorithms are only the first step in finding the insights we want and making them useful to the decision makers who need them. In this talk, I will present an approach to connecting humans with the intelligent systems that serve them using the tool that is most natural to us, language.

View recording

Photo of Erica Hartmann

Erica Hartmann

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Chemistry and the indoor microbiome: Highlighting the impacts of antimicrobial chemicals

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

There are more antibiotic-resistant pathogens indoors compared to natural outdoor environments. In our quest to diminish the number of viable microbes indoors, with the goal of halting the spread of infectious disease, we have created an arsenal of synthetic antimicrobial chemicals, which can have unintended consequences on indoor microbes by changing the structure of indoor microbial communities or selecting for certain functions, including antibiotic resistance. My research assesses whether antimicrobial chemicals are indeed associated with decreased microbial viability. This work provides a window into microbe-chemical interactions transpiring within buildings, giving us knowledge we need to make better design choices.

View Zoom recording

Photo of John Rogers

John Rogers

Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery (and by courtesy Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemistry)

Soft Electronics for Maternal, Fetal, Neonatal & Pediatric Health

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Living organisms are mechanically soft, with complex, time-dependent 3D curvilinear shapes; modern electronic and microfluidic technologies are rigid, with simple, static 2D layouts. Eliminating these profound differences in properties will create vast opportunities in man-made systems that can intimately integrate into and onto the human body, for diagnostic, therapeutic or surgical function with important, unique capabilities in biomedical research and clinical healthcare. Over the last decade, a convergence of new concepts in materials science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and advanced manufacturing has led to the emergence of novel classes of 'biocompatible' electronic and microfluidic systems designed to interface to diverse locations across the human body.

View Zoom recording

Photo of Ed Colgate

Ed Colgate

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Touching the Virtual and Remote

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The sense of touch – “haptics” – plays a vital role in everyday life. If you don’t believe it, try anesthetizing your fingertips (I’ll show a video!). Haptics, however, is decidedly less important when interfacing to the digital world. Our touchscreens treat the finger as a pointer and more-or-less ignore its exquisite sensitivity to shape, texture, friction, warmth, and softness. In this talk, I’ll explain a bit about the way that touch works, and then introduce you to a new class of interfaces that let you feel virtual objects such as buttons, switches, knobs and even that cashmere sweater at Nordstrom online. I’ll go on to talk about the vision for “remote touch”: allowing people (e.g., clinicians and patients) to overcome the barrier of distance with not only sight and sound, but touch and manipulation.

View Zoom recording

Photo of Matthew Grayson

Matthew Grayson

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are.
The Ubiquitous Nature of Random Walks

Thursday, April 22, 2021

What do Ben Franklin's batteries have to do with earthquake aftershocks in Hawaii and human life expectancy in the year 2021? Throughout history, many seemingly disconnected natural phenomena have been observed to manifest similar behavior, with the only common thread being that the response occurs in a strongly disordered system. One microscopic way to model such systems is with a random walk in a disordered landscape whereby the time between steps is chosen at random but might become infinite on average. A pattern emerges once a statistically large number of steps are taken, revealing a universal curve which can explain the dynamics of diverse systems with representation in all fields of science and engineering. In this talk, I will review some remarkable properties of random walk theory and share some stand-out historical examples with a glimpse of what unifies them all in the omnipresent world of random walks.

View Zoom recording

Photo of Sally McFall

Sally McFall

Research Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

COVID-19 Testing with CIGHT Developed DASH Platform

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BME's Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies (CIGHT) in collaboration with Minute Molecular Diagnostics is developing a point-of-care diagnostic platform that provides accurate qPCR results in 15 minutes or less. With the support of NIBIB and the Center for Innovation in Point-of-Care Technologies for HIVE/AIDS at Northwestern 9C-THAN), CIGHT is in the final stage of development of a COVID-19 test that will launch in Q1 of 2021. Sally McFall highlights the platform's unique design and the simple user steps required for the test.

View Zoom recording

Photo of Julius Lucks

Julius Lucks

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

What is in Your Water? How Synthetic Biology Could Impact the Lives of Billions across the Globe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Poor water quality affects over two billion people across the globe. While we can't often see or taste water contaminants, it turns out bacteria can. Professor Lucks presents the latest Northwestern research on creating a 'pregnancy test for water' - a cheap, fast, and reliable way that allows anyone, anywhere to detect if their water is contaminated - using synthetic biology. Professor Lucks also discusses the prospects for using similar technologies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of Samir Khuller

Samir Khuller

Peter and Adrienne Barris Chair of Computer Science

Who to Marry, How to Cook and Where to Buy Gas: Solving Dilemmas of Daily Life, One Algorithm at a Time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Algorithms are methods for processing data, and are in wide use today to analyze data in many applications arising from societal needs - such as health, medicine, communication, and planning. In this talk, using very simple examples from every day life, Professor Khuller illustrates some central ideas that showcase easy to understand problems and the algorithms designed for them. No computer science or programming background is needed.

Photo of James Hambleton

James Hambleton

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

When the Earth Gives Way, for Better or Worse

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Dr. Hambleton’s main research interests are in computational plasticity, geotechnical analysis, contact mechanics, soil-machine interaction, and the analysis of problems involving unsteady plastic flow. A major focal point of his work is to advance the understanding of how soils are moved and shaped through interaction with man-made objects and machinery.

Photo of Jessica Hullman

Jessica Hullman

Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Journalism

Information Visualization and the Communication of Uncertainty

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Professor Hullman's research has been supported by a Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, the NSF (CAREER, CRII), Google, Adobe, Tableau Software and the Navy, among others. Her work has received multiple Best Paper awards from top Visualization and Human-Computer Interaction venues.

Photo of Linda Broadbelt

Linda Broadbelt

Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Associate Dean for Research, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

McCormick: A Fertile Ground for Research in Teams

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

With a trend towards research in multidisciplinary teams, the old adage of "publish or perish" in academia has been replaced by "collaborate or perish". This talk focuses on various research projects in Professor Broadbelt's group in which members are part of large, global collaborative teams and how the environment at McCormick allows them to flourish in this new era.

Photo of Dan Brown

Dan Brown

Director, Ford Prototyping Lab; Faculty Advisor, Segal Professional Bridge

Designing a Better Theory - Practice Integration at Segal

Tuesday, September 25, 2018