2020 Science and Engineering Lecture Series 

MuratSpeaker: Murat Tiryakioglu, Executive Vice President of STEAM Initiatives, JU

Title: Learning to See the Extreme Data and What They Tell Us: My Personal Journey

Abstract: The human brain is not equipped to process datasets. To find relationships, we rely on graphical tools and statistical methods such as regression. Trends are easier to see, digest and present. When there are clear trends, data that fall outside the trend, extreme outliers, tend to be neglected, often taken out of the analysis, based on the assumption that an error has been committed while collecting and/or recording the data. However, much more information may be hidden in the extreme data than the rest of the dataset. The presentation will focus on extreme data; their detection, analysis and interpretation. The application of using the extreme data to gain insights about the potential “best” in the performance of metallic parts will be demonstrated.

Bio: Murat Tiryakioğlu is an engineering education pioneer, transformational academic leader, internationally-recognized researcher, and a passionate advocate of service learning to help community. Dr. Tiryakioğlu grew up around his family's business, a nonferrous foundry. After receiving his PhD, he worked at the Boeing Company, in Wichita, Kansas briefly before moving on to academic life in 1995. He taught at Western Kentucky University where he founded the Advanced Manufacturing Institute. In 2001, he started at Robert Morris University (Pittsburgh, PA) where he served as a University (Distinguished) Professor of manufacturing engineering and was recognized for his service-learning activities involving local manufacturers. Dr. Tiryakioglu moved to Jacksonville, FL in 2010 to continue his career as the Director of School of Engineering at the University of North Florida, and stepped down from this position in 2018 as the longest-serving director in School's history. He joined JU in 2019. Since moving to Jacksonville, Dr. Tiryakioglu has collaborated with Community Excellence Alliance to engage students in problem solving and continuous improvement methods and their applications to help overcome issues in non-profit organizations in Jacksonville, with an estimated financial impact of well over $5 million. Dr. Tiryakioğlu lives with his family in the Southside area. He collects model trains, plays soccer, bridge and violin, and enjoys various genres of music, including classical, hard rock, blues and zydeco.

 JustinSpeaker: Justin Kugler, Vice President of Advanced Programs and Concepts, Made In Space, Inc.

Title: Transforming the Future of the Space Economy

Abstract: Over the last two decades, the space industry has undergone metamorphic change. Commercial space companies have developed new capabilities and innovative business models to make space more accessible for business and it has resulted in a burgeoning market. However, new opportunities are on the horizon that could transform the commercial space market and increase space utilization. Join us for an insightful discussion as Made In Space VP of Advanced Programs and Concepts Justin Kugler discusses how in space manufacturing will impact the space economy and sheds light on the exciting business opportunities on the horizon. 

Bio: Kugler is responsible for leading new business development initiatives for MIS across several sectors including space-enabled products, exploration manufacturing, and on-orbit robotic manufacturing sectors. Prior to this role, Kugler developed numerous concepts and refined value proposition for industrial R&D projects on the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. Previously, he managed ISS National Lab pathfinder projects for NASA’s ISS Payloads Office, developed crew training models for the Constellation Program, and served as an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. Kugler has over 15 years of experience in developing robust R&D programs and business development in government and commercial markets. In 2015, he was recognized by the Association of Professional Futurists for his forecast of the future of industrial activity in space. Kugler earned his Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University and his Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Rice University. He also earned a Certificate in Strategic Foresight from the University of Houston.


 LucySpeaker: Lucy Sonnenberg, Research Director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory for Chemical Research, JU

Title: Assessing the Significance of Mercury in an Estuarine Environment

Abstract: Concentrations of mercury in common fish species in a northeast Florida coastal estuary were surveyed because of several risk factors in the region. These include local coal-fired power plant emissions and discharges, precipitation patterns that capture global atmospheric mercury, land cover and biogeochemistry that promote mercury methylation and biomagnifcation, historic contamination in a major tributary, and a strong fishing culture in the community. Mercury in the dorsal muscle tissue of 241 individual fish representing sixteen species was measured using direct mercury analysis. Average concentrations of each species ranged from 6 to 126 ng/g and fell into three tiers that corresponded to typical levels of piscivory and the relative trophic levels of the freshwater, estuarine and marine species collected. The significance of these results is assessed with respect to rates of mercury ingestion through fish consumption by humans and wildlife in Duval County and surrounding areas.

Bio: Lucy Sonnenberg is an environmental chemist who obtained her B.A. at USF, her M.S. at UF, and her Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1989. She has been the research director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory for Chemical Research (MWL) at Jacksonville University since 1996. Under her directorship, the mission of the MWL has been to conduct novel research in environmental chemistry, provide rigorous and meaningful environmental research experiences to undergraduate students, and to serve as an environmental chemistry resource to area agencies and institutions. Research topics have included assessment of mercury contamination in the Duval County environment, chlorinated organic contaminants in water and sediment, bioavailability and bioaccumulation of contaminants, carbon and nitrogen cycling in natural and wastewater systems, and the effects of natural organic matter on pollutant fates. In addition, the laboratory has performed numerous assessments of stormwater management technologies and other industrial safety projects for private firms. One of Sonnenberg’s favorite aspects of her position is the mentoring of 50+ budding research and lab scientists who have supported and conducted these investigations. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. She just completed eight years on the City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board where she was Chair 2017-2019. She also serves as ex officio co-chair on the Lower St. Johns River Technical Advisory Committee.

Speaker: Evens Blanc, Clinical Research Project Manager at Bracane Company Evens

Title: Introduction to Clinical Research Monitoring

Abstract: Clinical trials are conducted primarily to determine the safety and efficacy of drugs, devices and therapies. This process is rigorous and specific under the FDA regulations 21 CFR Part 50, 56, Good Clinical Practice (GCP) & International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) guidelines.

Bio: Evens Blanc is currently working as a Clinical Research Project Manager at Bracane Company located in Plano Texas. He started at Bracane as a Proposal Writer in March 2018. Evens graduated from JU in the Spring of 2017 with a BS in Biology and BA in French. Since then, he has gone on to complete his certification in Project Management at Collin College. 


PenwellSpeaker: William Penwell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Science, JU

Title: The Rise of the Germs: The Evolution of Bacterial Pathogens

Abstract: Bacterial infections have been a major health problem to humans, since emergences of the human species. Exposure to selective pressures, like the host defenses, antibiotics, and competition, all have facilitated the evolution of pathogenic bacteria. In the spirt of Darwin Day, this talk will present examples of how bacteria have evolved to deal with these selective pressures to cause disease in the human host.  

Bio: Dr. William Frank Penwell is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Jacksonville University. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Westminster College (PA) in 2006. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology in 2013 from Miami University of Ohio. His Post-doctoral research was performed at AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical. His research interests included Acinetobacter baumannii, emerging pathogens, antimicrobial development and antimicrobial resistances. 


DanMoseleySpeaker: Reza Sarraf, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computing Science at Jacksonville University

Title: Safe Route Planner

Abstract: Many factors including vehicle type, speed, distractions, roadway design, environmental and driver characteristics contribute to motor vehicle crashes. Navigation systems including Google Maps, Waze, and MapQuest consider the travel time in suggesting a path from a source to a given destination. The fastest path is not necessarily the best path in terms of safety. There are roads with design issues that increase the possibility of accidents. Although there are existing accident risk maps to help drivers to avoid such roads, these maps can be confusing and must be manually interpreted by drivers to find the safest path. This manual interpretation is a time consuming and difficult task that results in ignoring the accident visualization tools by drivers, due to complexity. This talk will present a novel tool, Safe Route Planner, to automatically find the safest route between any two points by incorporating real crash records.

Bio: Dr. Reza Sarraf is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computing Science at Jacksonville University. Dr. Sarraf holds a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Technology and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Towson University, Maryland, and a B.Sc. degree in Software Engineering. During 2013-2019, he served as an adjunct faculty in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University. He has published papers in big data and knowledge engineering, health informatics and forensic areas. The following organizations can benefit from the result of his previous research publications: The National Highway Traffic Safety, United States Department of Health and Human Services and Law Enforcement Agencies.


NatashaSpeaker:  Tyler Kloefkorn, Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Title: The Impact of the Mathematical Sciences on Public Policy

Abstract: Most have heard the claim that "math is everywhere." Often this claim is used as a motivator in mathematics courses, but unfortunately, we are rarely shown why it might be true. It is the case that the successes of the mathematical sciences research enterprise are numerous, significant, and ubiquitous. One can see this by taking a closer look at public policy in the US. The mathematical sciences have a profound influence on topics of national importance and notable successes include significant returns for the U.S. economy and insights into national security applications. Overall, the U.S. depends on data, models, algorithms, and other mathematical objects and on a workforce that is fluent in mathematical thinking. In this talk, we will explore specific uses of mathematics in federal policy-making; examples will include data science in the Department of Defense, modeling for urban sustainability, and statistical approaches to address the opioid epidemic. 

Bio: Tyler Kloefkorn, PhD, is a program officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. At the Academies, Tyler works for the Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics and is the Director of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. Tyler received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oregon in 2014. After his graduate work, Tyler completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona and a AAAS science and technology policy fellowship at the National Science Foundation in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

Matt TuckerSpeaker: Yan Dai, Assistant Professor inthe Department of Mathematics, JU

Title: A Simple Random Walk

Abstract: Random walk describes the motion on a lattice, say Zd, of a walker that jumps at discrete time steps t = 1, 2, 3, ... to a new, randomly chosen, site. Such a random walk can be defined in various ways, resulting in various properties.

In this talk, I will present some key facts including the idea that the set of points visited by a random walker in any dimension (greater than one). I will then discuss a much harder problem – what happens when you do not allow the walker to return to points?

Bio: Dr. Yan Dai received her B.A in mathematics and secondary education from University of Guam and completed a PhD in mathematics at University of Arizona. Her research interest is in the general fields of probability theory. In particular, she has extensively studied random walk models and their scaling limits, most specifically the self-avoiding walk, weakly self-avoiding walk, true self-avoiding walk, smart kinetic walk, and mirror model.



Speaker: Ramesh Adhikari, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, JU

Title: Towards Sustainable Electronics

Abstract: Growth in purchasing power of population across the globe and the lowering price of electronics has fueled the production of a record number of electronics. This increase in consumption of electronics is also promoted by the tendency of the consumers to purchase a newer version of devices every few years. This has resulted in millions of tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) being generated which continues to grow every year as well. A large majority of the e-waste is discarded in landfills leading to environmental pollution while only a small percentage is properly recycled. One of the ways to help address the issue is by developing biodegradable electronic components using materials that are green and easily available. Leaves are readily available and biodegradable. Aromatic amino acids are among the building blocks of proteins and hence are also biodegradable. In this talk, I will discuss about the progress in our lab on a project to develop leaf-based electronic devices and properties of the self-assembled aromatic amino acid structures.

Bio: Dr. Ramesh Adhikari is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Jacksonville University who joined the JU faculty in August 2016. He received his Ph.D. (2016) and M.S. (2014) in Physics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research was focused on studying the mechanism of charge transport in conducting proteinaceous nanowires generated by different species of bacteria Geobacter.  He received his B.A. (2011) in Physics and Mathematics from Berea College in Kentucky.  His interest is in physics education research, and the use of biomaterials in the development of bioelectronics. His team of student researchers is currently working on developing leaf-based electronics and understanding the self-assembly mechanism of aromatic amino acids.


Speaker: Alex Borhani,  Director of IT Security at CSX Transportation

Title: The Emergence of Cyberterrorism

Abstract: After the September 11 attacks, the internet became a beacon of propaganda, fund raising, coordination, and recruitment for terrorist organizations throughout the world. As traditional online efforts blossomed, so did other cyber activity, including computer intrusions in support of terrorist ideology. This presentation is intended to explain what cyberterrorism is, and highlight some of the top FBI investigations over a span of 12 years, including the very first cyberterrorism case. Furthermore, with continued escalation of Middle East geopolitical tensions, the presentation will outline the potential near-future state of cyberterrorism.

Bio: During 12 years, Alex served the FBI in the capacity of a Special Agent, Supervisory Special Agent, and Unit Chief. He specialized in Counterterrorism and Cyber investigations and is a leading expert on cyberterrorism. In 2016, he became the CISO for Web.com, the parent company of Network Solutions and Yodle, and helped implement Zero Trust and securing DevOps practices. In 2019 he became the Director of IT Security at CSX Transportation, and is leading the implementation of modern security practices for a Fortune 250 company responsible for critical US railroad infrastructure.