2024 Science and Engineering Lecture Series 

PiperSpeaker: Dillon Hanson, Department of Mathematics, Jacksonville University

Title: Catalan Numbers

Abstract: Join me on a mathematical journey as we delve into the fascinating world of Catalan Numbers. This special sequence provides solutions to over 200 different counting problems! In this talk, we will explore some of these, as well as the underlying structure that makes them so pervasive in diverse mathematical scenarios. Whether you are a fan of probability, geometry, algebra, or calculus, this talk will have a little something for you.

Bio: Dillon Hanson is a first-year Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department at JU. After a couple of years as a software developer (which he didn't enjoy) with a side gig teaching ballroom dancing (which he enjoyed a lot), Dillon changed his priorities to focus on education. He taught math and physics at a private high school in Iowa, then obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of North Texas, and is now proudly sharing his passion for math here at JU. His research is in algebraic combinatorics, a fascinating intersection of, well, algebra and combinatorics. His favorite thing about mathematical research is combining ideas and strategies from different sources and applying them in a new context.

OtavioSpeaker: Otavio de Toledo, Salvador Gutierrez-Aguirre, Montserrat Lara-Velasquez, Lyerly Neurosurgery, Baptist Neurological Institute

Title:  Research Experience at Lyerly Neurosurgery: Insights from the Research Team

Abstract: Join us for a brief and engaging discussion on the impactful journey within the research department of Lyerly Neurosurgery. You will share our insights into the challenges and successes of the research field. Whether you are an aspiring researcher or just curious, this is a great opportunity to gain valuable knowledge about the exciting world of neurosurgery research.

Bio: Otavio is currently a Research Fellow at Lyerly Neurosurgery where he is working on projects related to cerebrovascular diseases, with a special focus on stroke and aneurysm treatment. He is a Brazilian graduate physician with prior clinical experience as a military physician in the Brazilian Army and as a general practitioner in the Brazilian Universal Health System. Throughout his medical career, Otavio has always prioritized patient education, humanism, and comprehensive care as his core beliefs.Salvador

Salvador is a research fellow at Lyerly Neurosurgery-Baptist Health, focusing on projects related to Cerebrovascular & Stroke research. He is a physician from Mexico and wishes to pursue his career further by getting into a neurology residency program. He believes that continuing education and innovation are the keys to bringing about a positive change in the healthcare industry and significantly impacting patients' lives.

MontserratMontse Lara is a Research Specialist at Lyerly Neurosurgery. She was born and raised in Mexico City and graduated from med school with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2020. Since she started as a health professional, she began in neurosurgery, and I immediately knew that was her passion. She has experience in research in brain and spine cancer, and cerebrovascular diseases. At Lyerly Neurosurgery she coordinates the Florida Familial Brain Aneurysm Study.


BlancSpeaker: Hebin Li, Department of Physics, Florida International University

Title: Exploring Many-Body Physics with Single Quantum Entities
for Quantum Information Science

Abstract: Future scalable and reliable universal quantum computers can be more superior than classical computers for solving certain problems. To fully harness the power of quantum mechanics, the quantum computing platform must be a many-body system with interacting or coupled quantum entities (qubits). For example, entangling multiple qubits requires coupling and coherence. The behavior of an assemble of interacting particles cannot be understood by a simple extrapolation of the microscopic lawas of single particles. Instead, entirely new properties can appear at each level of complexity, as pointed out by P.W. Anderson in 1972. Experimentally understanding new principles and laws in many-body systems is essential for both fundamental many-body physics and ultimately providing practical solutions for future scalable and reliable quantum computers. 

In this talk, I will present our work in exploring many-body systems that consist of single quantum entities including single atoms and solid-state-based atom-like entities. Recent advances in the preparation of these exotic singe quantum entities and in coherent spectroscopy provide unprecedented opportutnties. We can deterministically prepare a few- or many-body quantum system of single quantum entities using a bottom-up approach and use ultrafast coherent spectroscopy to study many-body properties in these systems. For example, our results revealed long-range dipole-dipole interaction between atoms with separation up to tens of micrometers. We have also observed multi-atom Dicke states with a scalable and deterministic number of atoms from two to eight atoms, providing the prerequisite for generating entangled states of up to eight atoms. The study of these systems contributes to fundamental understanding of many-body physics as well as potential applications in quantum information science.  

Bio: Dr. Hebin Li is currently an associate professor in the Department of Physics at Florida Interanational University (FIU). He received his BS in physics from Wuhan University and his PhD in physics from Texas A&M University in 2010. After three-years of postdoctoral study at JILA, a joint institute of University of Colorado at Boulder and National Institute of Standards and Technology, Dr. Li joined FIU as an assistant professor in 2013 and was later promoted to an associate professor in 2019. During his tenure at FIU, Dr. Li has established a successful research program with a well-equiped ultrafast spectroscopy and quantum optics lab. His research interest focuses on experimental study of many-body quantum systems and their potential applications in quantum information science. Dr. Li is a Senior Member of Optica (formerly OSA). He has won awards including William R. Jones Oustanding Mentor Award (2021), Army Research Lab Summer Faculty (2020), FIU Top Scholar (2020), FIU CASE Research Award (2017, 2020, 2023) and Engagement Award (2023), and FIU Faculty Senate Excellence in Research Award (2023). 

DiniusSpeaker: Thomas G. Jones, Marshall University

Title: Educating Beyond the Classroom: 36 Years in Rivers, Caves, Mountains, and Oceans

Abstract: Unionid mussels are the most imperiled taxa in the United States and are vastly understudied. This study aims to better understand unionid assemblage condition and distribution in large navigable rivers. The entire Robert C. Byrd (RCB) pool of the Ohio River is the study area. I selected sites from the 2019 and 2013 ORSANCO RCB pool assessments that utilize random site selection across the pool. I used SCUBA to survey and collect data on unionid diversity, reproduction, and habitat. Surprisingly, diversity in the Upper Section of Greenup Pool dwarfed all others. Patterns of species redundancy are determined utilizing NMS. RCB and Greenup Pool patterns are statically similar. Unique, this scope is a larger, pool-wide scale and is more representative of the current unionid assemblage. Data collected could serve as a baseline to site – specific surveys and have management implications for unionid assemblages in pools of large, navigable rivers. 

Bio: I am a field biologist and an educator. My two “happy places” are on the bottom of the Ohio River in 20 feet of water, pushing me downstream in the dark, surveying for Unionid mussels and standing in some swamp, creek, wetland, mountain, tropical forest, or dock about to take students down on the reef for them to think, touch (carefully if required for study for stony coral), see, taste, hear, and do, science. 

Interacting with my older colleagues, I hear; “Students are not what they use to be.” “They are unprepared...” “… are not focused.” “… want hand fed information.” “Yes! Students today, aren’t what I was when I started!” I believe that to be the most common quote of teachers across time. In part because we teachers are getting older and its hard not to get set in your ways. After all our “ways” are comfortable and less stressful on us. And we have found them to be effective in our past at teaching students. We can all name successful students who have flourished after learning from us. 

But is it enough? I distinctly recall hearing my educational mentors saying, “I work with the best 10% of my undergraduates as graduate students.” This idea/attitude worked for them. In the past (?) for many/most students in the sciences, grad school was their first experiences doing science.  How much less complex is it to provide a class, with a set of clean, concise data in Microsoft Excel as a starting point for a lab? Since post-WW2’s GI Bill universities have been flooded with students. Professors needed to prioritize their time by focusing in the hardest working, most motivated, most prepared students. This pattern resulted in large numbers of “networked” former in fields that can help connect future students into that area. In fisheries/ichthyology how many of us can trace our academic history to “X’s lab”? Two of my academic mentors were Dr Don Tarter and Dr Bill Pearson. Through their careers, I could go to any aquatic or fish meeting and make immediate connections to co-workers, former students, or folks at agencies who had worked with them. Telling stories over a beer is still a grand time for most of us at meetings.

Today things have changed. Our students’ educational experiences have changed, dramatically. I hope our educational goals have changed. Some folks didn’t benefit from the old boy network. In aquatics, fishes, and mussels our meetings are getting much better, but they are still too old, too white, too male, too straight, too neurotypical, too economically privileged, too different from the face of America. Too different from the future of America.  My educational goals have changed, I want my students, as many as possible, to have a chance to be more than they expect they can be! To do more than they think they can. To have the education and experiences to prepare them for the careers they want. And to open many more to the ideas of a career way different from what they know now!

AlasammaniSpeaker: Si Wu, Department of Chemistry, University of Alabama

Title: High-throughput quantitative top-down MS

Abstract: Protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) have emerged in the post-genomic era as critical features in regulating and diversifying protein biological activity. In addition, various PTMs on the same protein tend to physically interact with each other, PTM crosstalk, that drives many signaling pathways. Thus, analysis of intact proteoforms is necessary for in-depth knowledge of the significance of various PTMs and related crosstalk. The overall purpose of my research program is to establish a high-throughput quantitative top-down proteomics platforms that combine top-down mass spectrometry (TD-MS) with novel sample handling and separation technologies. We have developed methods for high-resolution reversed-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC)-based separations (high pH and/or low pH) for analysis of complex protein mixtures such as cell lysates and serum samples. We also established and optimized a quantitative top-down proteomics workflow using intact protein-level tandem mass tag (TMT) labeling. Moreover, we have developed a novel analytical tool, “spray-capillary”, for quantitative ultra-low volume sampling (e.g., pL volume and sub-ng sample amount). The spray-capillary is capable of single-cell metabolomics or proteomics via the direct coupling of CE separation and MS detection requiring no additional devices. Overall, we envision these techniques as novel analytical tools to apply to the rapidly expanding field of real-life proteomics. To this end, we have applied quantitative top-down proteomics to the analysis of serum autoantibodies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This research holds the potential to provide new insights regarding the autoantibody affinity maturation process and may lead to novel biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of SLE. 

Bio: Dr. Wu received her Ph.D. in 2006 from Washington State University under the direction of Prof. James Bruce, working on developing novel MS tools for studying proteins in complex samples. She then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with Drs. Ljiljiana Pasa-Tolic and Richard D. Smith on top-down proteomics and later became a research scientist at PNNL in 2008. In 2015, she joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma as an assistant professor and was later promoted to associate professor. In 2023, she joined the University of Alabama as a full professor. She was named a "2017 ASMS Emerging Investigator" by the Journal and American Society for Mass Spectrometry (JASMS) and received the USHUPO "Robert J. Cotter New Investigator Award" in 2020. She is also the editor of the Journal of Mass Spectrometry (JMS). Her current research focuses on developing and applying high-throughput quantitative top-down and functional proteomics techniques for addressing important clinical and biological questions.

AdamSpeaker: Adam Campbell, Department of Chemistry and Physics, Jacksonville University

Title: From Photons to Fragrances: Use of Light and Organic Molecules to Release Fragrances, Steroids, and Other Compounds

Abstract: A cycloaromatization reaction driven by relief of excited state antiaromaticity to photouncage aldehydes and ketones was developed using several synthetic routes towards the synthesis of photocaged carbonyls as allylically substituted 3-(2-(arylethynyl)phenyl)prop-2-en-1-ols. A library of photocaged aryl aldehydes and ketones containing donors and acceptors, as well as several photocaged fragrance aldehydes and the steroid 5α-cholestan- 3 -one, were synthesized and demonstrated photouncaging in good to excellent yields.

Bio: Adam Campbell is an organic chemist who teaches general and organic chemistry at Jacksonville University. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from JU and then received his master’s degree in organic chemistry from Florida State University where he published research describing the synthesis of allylically-substituted conjugated enynols and their use as photoremovable protecting groups for light-controlled release of ketones and aldehydes including fragrance aldehydes and ketone-bearing steroids.

BayonerSpeaker: Bayaner Arigong, College of Engineering, Florida A&M University and Florida State University

Title: Boosting Speed of Everything from AI to Wireless Communication via Waveform Processing Circuits and Chip 

Abstract: The demand for high speed, reliable, and high data rate transmission in 5G/6G, radar, sensing, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, autonomous driving, smart health, smart living, virtual reality, and internet of thing (IoT) are continuously increasing, and emerging upscaled spectrum and efficient spectrum utilization are key methodologies to support those urgent needs of data transmission in different applications. These new spectrum and high speed with wide instantaneous bands bring unprecedented challenges for conventional electronic hardware systems. For example, high end multiple analog or digital filters are required in spectrum sensing hardware block, spurious frequency cancellation and low local oscillator frequency feedthrough are designed for frequency conversion block, high sampling rate, wideband, high-resolution analog to digital converters (ADC) are desired for signal conversion, and high-speed baseband processor are applied to execute complex signal processing, which fundamentally limits the operating speed and consume high energy and power. In this talk, I will discuss our recent research activities in reconfigurable real time radio frequency analog processors performing mathematical operation directly at analog waveform domain to mitigate the computation load in digital domain and signal processing and relax system stringent constraints. 

Bio: Bayaner Arigong received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from University of North Texas in 2015. After that, he joined in Infineon Technologies as advanced radio frequency (RF) system design engineer, developing high performance integrated chip and circuit for cellular base stations. Currently, he is an assistant professor with electrical engineering department at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Tallahassee, FL. His current research interests cover broad areas of analog signal processing circuit and system, RF/microwave circuits and systems, beamforming, wideband system, antenna, and RF front end, metamaterials, transformation optics, quantum hardware, and nano-photonics, and he has published more than 60 journal papers and 60 conference papers and filed more than 5 US patents in his research field. 

Mandi Stratton

Speaker: Mandi Stratton and Nicholas Coutu, Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Title: Molecular Justice: The Role of DNA in Forensic Investigations

Abstract: This lecture series delves into the complex world of forensic DNA analysis and provides insight beyond the typical CSI television programming. From the scene of the crime to the courtroom, we will explore the application of DNA testing in modern investigations, techniques employed by the laboratory, discussing its reliability and limitations. The presentation will highlight local cases where genetic evidence played a pivotal investigative role. Ethical considerations and emerging technologies will allow participants to gain understanding of the evolving scope of forensic DNA testing.

Bio: Mandi Stratton is currently employed as a Crime Laboratory Supervisor for the Biology/DNA section with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at the Jacksonville Regional Operations Center. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Forensic Science and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Central Florida in 2010. She served as an undergraduate research assistant at the National Center for Forensic Science in the area of trace evidence analysis, focusing on elemental analysis of textiles and fibers utilizing scanning electron microscope and x-ray diffraction techniques. Upon graduation, she began her career as a Forensic Serologist at DNA Labs International, a private accredited forensic DNA testing laboratory located in South Florida. In 2013, she returned to her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, where she became employed as a Crime Laboratory Analyst in the Biology/DNA section with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Throughout her tenure, she has performed DNA testing and provided expert testimony in numerous cases across the North Florida region. She served as a Quality Assurance Committee member and Local CODIS Administrator until her promotion to Supervisor in the summer of 2023. She has recently completed training to serve as a Forensic Technical Assessor for Forensic Testing and Calibration Laboratories by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board. Mandi was the recipient of the 2016 Florida Department of Law Enforcement Forensic Scientist of the Year award and was recognized by the Fourth Judicial Circuit as the recipient of the Meritorious Service Award for the Daniel E. Watts 2021 Memorial for Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers.

Nick CoutuNick Coutu’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Cell Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Florida. He has been a member of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for almost a decade. During his tenure, he has conducted STR DNA testing and provided expert witness testimony in numerous cases across the North Florida region. He has also served as the Safety Officer for the FDLE Jacksonville Regional Operations Center and is a current Quality Assurance Committee representative for the Biology/DNA section. In 2022, Nick was recognized for his conscientious efforts in the case of the shooting death of Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers as one of the recipients of the FDLE Distinguished Team of the Year award.

TurnerSpeaker: Stephanie Turner, Blue Origin

Title: Redefining the Right Stuff – Expanding Access to Careers in Human Spaceflight

Abstract: Have you ever dreamed of going to space, or working in the space industry?  Today there are more opportunities than ever to accomplish those dreams.   In this presentation I’ll discuss how progressions in our space programs over time have resulted in more and more fields having applications in spaceflight operations.  I’ll share information about how commercial space companies, like Blue Origin, have changed what it takes to be an astronaut and why it’s important that we increase the exposure of suborbital flight.  We’ll also look at how expanding access to space has impacted research, payloads, and hardware development career opportunities.

Bio: Stephanie Turner is the Training Cognizant Engineer for the New Shepard program at Blue Origin.  She has degrees in Management of Technical Operations, Aviation Safety, and Accounting.  Prior to joining Blue Origin, Stephanie worked for United Space Alliance at Johnson Space Center in Houston for twelve years in positions supporting astronaut crew training for both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.  She also has training management experience in oil and gas and manufacturing industries.

John BruceSpeaker: JC Bruce, Department of Engineering, Jacksonville University

Title: Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Rise of the Machines

Abstract: Please join us for a discussion on the origins of AI.  How does it really work and how is it going to shape the future of the world.  This talk will touch on the social factors, and technology breakthroughs that have enabled the current rapid development and adoption of AI.  How is the world going to be affected by AI in the next 20 years?

Bio:  Dr. Bruce has been a design engineer for Honeywell, BAE Systems, GE Avionics and Medtronic. Space Shuttle, Space Station, Laser Gyros, Ballistic Missiles, radar systems, fuel control for planes, medical devices (ENT, Spine, Cranial and Neuro). He has extensive Systems Engineering and Program Management experience and has headed or a part of, many acquisitions, mergers, divestitures, joint ventures, business development activities. He is a member of Medtronics R&D council, chair of IP boards, founded multiple “skunk” works teams and has multiple patents.

Wolf SpringerSpeaker: Wolfdieter Springer, Department of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

Title:  Selective Mitochondrial Autophagy in Health, Aging, and Disease 

Abstract: The ubiquitin (Ub) kinase PINK1 and the E3 Ub ligase PRKN together mediate a cytoprotective mitochondrial quality control that selectively eliminates damaged mitochondria via the autophagy-lysosome system (mitophagy). Loss of function mutations in either gene are the most common cause of early-onset Parkinson’s disease (PD) and it is thought that failure to identify and clear damaged mitochondria eventually results in neuronal death. Beyond PD, mitophagy impairments seem to contribute more broadly to risk, onset, and progression of many age-related disorders of the brain and of other tissue with high metabolic demand. PINK1 surveys organelle health through its continuous import into mitochondria where it is cleaved and degraded. However, upon mitochondrial damage, PINK1 rapidly accumulates on the outer mitochondrial membrane. This leads to phosphorylation of the small modifier protein Ub and the Ub-like domain of the E3 Ub ligase PRKN at a conserved Ser65 residue. The phosphorylation of Ub (pS65-Ub) serves as an allosteric activator of and receptor for PRKN on damaged mitochondria. Once translocated to mitochondria, PINK1 and PRKN jointly act as an enzymatic pair amplifying the formation of phosphorylated Ub chains that serve as the ‘mitophagy tag’. As such pS65-Ub is a specific and quantitative marker of mitochondrial damage and further facilitates transport to and elimination of damaged mitochondria in lysosomes. We have recently developed means to assess and follow pS65-Ub in cells and tissues as well as in blood samples from animal models and patients. In addition, we started exploiting pS65-Ub as a quantitative trait for genetic and cell-based screening to identify novel mitophagy modifiers and candidate risk factors. Additional efforts are underway to determine the suitability of pS65-Ub as a potential disease or pharmacodynamics marker and to capitalize on structure-function relationships for drug development to activate the protective enzyme pair PINK1-PRKN. 

Bio:  Dr. Wolfdieter Springer is a Consultant and Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. His main research focus is on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying aging and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. He received his MSc from the University of Regensburg and his PhD from the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany. His postdoctoral training at the Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tuebingen, Germany, led to the seminal discovery of the PINK1-PRKN pathway that orchestrates the selective degradation of damaged mitochondria via the autophagy-lysosome system (mitophagy). Dr. Springer’s laboratory at Mayo Clinic continues to study this ubiquitin kinase-ligase pair on a structural, cellular, and organismal level with a focus on relevance of mitochondrial autophagy in health, aging, and disease. Current efforts aim at dissecting the genetic architecture and regulation of mitophagy and the development of biomarkers and future therapeutics for diseases where mitochondrial, autophagic, or lysosomal dysfunctions emerge as a common theme. Dr. Springer’s research is funded by multiple sources including the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and others. Dr. Springer strives to create and maintain an equitable, diverse, and inclusive research environment, and is committed to training and mentoring the next-generation scientists. For more information on his Laboratory for Translational Cell Biology, please visit https://www.mayo.edu/research/labs/translational-cell-biology-parkinsons-disease/overview.