|April 6, 2022|Theme: Recycling Plastic and Food|
Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Stephen Techtmann
Trash to Treasure: Using microbial communities to convert plastic into food
Each year millions of tons of plastics are produced and over three-quarters of that plastic eventually ends up in landfills or the environment. At the same time, there is a growing need to find novel solutions to feed a growing population. These twin problems of plastic pollution and food insecurity are challenges that must be addressed through novel technological advances. Environmental microbial communities can serve as untapped reservoirs of biotechnologically relevant biological catalysts. Bacterial species capable of converting plastic into microbial biomass have been identified. However, the rates of biological plastic conversion on its own are very slow. Here we will discuss recent advances in coupling of chemical and biological processing of plastics to convert plastics into microbial biomass. Microbial cells are composed of over 50% protein and contain many of the required nutrients needed for nutrition. We are developing a bacterial consortium that can participate in plastic degradation and produce microbial biomass that is non-toxic and contains all the required nutrients to be used an alternative protein source. This approach of coupling of waste deconstruction with microbial build of up into biomass could provide a system for production of alternative proteins from various waste streams.
|February 17, 2022|Theme: Motion and Technology|
University Professor Dr. Robert Nemiroff
Faster than Light: What Can Do It and What Can't
Einstein would agree that some things really can move faster than light. What are
How do they do it? And is there any way this can be practically useful? To explore the
unusual landscape of the superluminal, a series of seemingly-straightforward
conceptual puzzles are presented along with their sometimes counter-intuitive answers.
How modern technology can make superluminal motion practically useful is then
|November 30, 2021|Theme: Transportation and Environment|
Distinguished Professor Zhanping You, Transportation Engineering
Engineering Waste Tires to Better Roads
Stockpiles of waste tires pose concerns of potential contamination of local groundwater and fire risk. The objective of this study is to engineer waste tires as a sustainable rubber asphalt material for better roads through various experimental and numerical modeling techniques. This study attempted to establish discrete element models (DEM) to investigate the strength, skeleton structures, and stress distribution of rubber modified asphalt mixtures. The research team also expanded the research work from models and lab work and then to field pilot projects. Quite a few pilot projects that use recycled tire rubber were constructed as asphalt pavements in Michigan. In general, the test results from the laboratory were favorable regarding moisture damage resistance, low temperature cracking resistance, and noise reduction. The effort of this study will contribute to circular and low carbon economy.
|October 20, 2021|Theme: Technology and Culture|
Distinguished Professor Jennifer Daryl Slack, Communication and Cultural
Studies, Department of Humanities
Technological Culture: From Cultural Studies to Transdisciplinarity
There is nothing new in the claim that technology and culture are connected. We would
all likely agree that technologies have cultural impacts and technological invention and
innovation can be encouraged or discouraged. Yet it is also true that most of the time
most of us act as though technology is something that happens “over there,” and culture
is something that happens elsewhere. My research addresses that elsewhere. In my
research on culture I ask how it works, how it matters, and how it changes (or not). I am
particularly interested in how it manages to secure technology as “over there,” as
removed from culture, at best the superior determinant of culture. To insist instead that
technology is significantly always already cultural, I research concepts and
practices—articulation, assemblage, convergence, and transdisciplinarity—designed to
transform the divide and generate new knowledge, new forms of knowledge production,
and new forms of expertise.