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Spring 2011 Seminar Abstracts

Spring 2011 Seminars are held (unless otherwise noted) on Wednesdays, 4:00 p.m. in Manning 201 (Refreshments in 222 at 3:30)

The seminars are FREE and open to the public

Jan 26th

Dr. Mohamed Laradji, UoM

Blebs are balloon-shaped membrane protrusions that occur in several physiological processes of eukaryotic cells including cytokinesis, cell motility, apoptosis and necrosis. The formation of blebs is investigated numerically through a large-scale simulation of an implicit-solvent model, recently developed by my group, for self-assembled lipid bilayers coupled to an explicit elastic meshwork, simulating the spectrin-based cytoskeleton of red blood cells. I will show that blebs form as a result of interplay between cytoskeleton tension and membrane tension.

Blebs appear in membrane with excess area and under cytoskeletal tension. The equilibrium phase diagram of the system will be shown, and the kinetics of blebs nucleation and coarsening will be discussed in the context of various cytoskeleton manipulations including a global contraction of the cytoskeleton, localized detachment of the cytoskeleton from the lipid bilayer, and localized rupture of the cytoskeleton.

Feb 2nd

Dr. Chester Alexander, Alabama

CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW FLYER: Dr. Chester Alexander presents Sculptures of ScientistsThis presentation is a collection of eight sculptures of scientists and fourteen sculptures of scientific models. The scientists include Faraday, Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Einstein and da Vinci. The models include the magnetic field of a spinning charge, a wave packet, Maxwell's Demon, black hole, space-time cone, Fermi surface of calcium, structure of graphite, Higgs boson potential, double helix, spiral galaxy, string theory, charged particle in a magnetic field, Einstein's curved space, and de Broglie wavelength.

Also included will be demonstrations of hollow-face illusions, and some discussion of how the sculptures were created. The media used in these sculptures include wood, bronze, brass, copper, aluminum, graphite, plaster, and Plexiglas. A light source is required for some of the sculptures. The presentation should be of interest to scientists and artists. The pictures show a Fermi Surface of Calcium a wave packet, and Michael Faraday.

Feb 9th (Due to University of Memphis Closing for Inclement Weather, There will be no Seminar Today)

Dr. Donald Franceschetti, UoM

It is a truism that the student's emotional state plays an important role in determining the efficacy of instruction. Experienced teachers and tutors can often pick up from verbal and non-verbal (body language) clues, whether a student is engaged, bored, anxious, or preoccupied, and respond in an adaptive and effective way. For intelligent tutoring systems, this determination can be made to some extent based on measurements made while a student sits at the computer. In this presentation we will review some of the relevant literature on the connection between affect and learning, including some of the rich literature on "math anxiety" and discuss some measures of affect that seem promising to aid both human and machine teachers.

Feb 16th

Dr. Santosh Kumar, UoM

Title: Addressing Stress and Addictive Behavior in the Natural Environment Using AutoSense



Stress and addictive behavior such as smoking lead to or worsen diseases of slow accumulation such as heart diseases and cancer. While traditional diseases caused by malnutrition or poor hygiene are becoming rarer, stress and addictive behavior continue to be widespread. Reliable inference of stress and addictive behavior using unobtrusively wearable non-invasive sensors in the natural environment of an individual still remains a formidable challenge due to non-specificity of the measures such sensors collect.


In the AutoSense project, we have developed a comprehensive suite of wearable sensors that can be worn in the mobile environment to collect multiple physiological indices of stress (ECG, Respiration, Pulse Transit Time, etc.). We have also developed a software framework on the mobile phone called FieldStream that can collect physiological measurements from AutoSense sensors, process them to derive tens of features, apply machine learning-based algorithms to derive behavioral inferences, and use these events to solicit self-reports on the phone, all in real-time. The entire end-to-end system works in real-life and has been worn by 60+ human volunteers for 2,000+ hours in their natural environments as part of various scientific user studies. In this talk, I will introduce the AutoSense and FieldStream systems and discuss the advances we are making in inferring stress, smoking, drinking, drug usage, craving, and conversation, all from sensory measurements collected in the natural environment.



Santosh Kumar is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Memphis, where he received an Early Career Research Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2008. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the Ohio State University in 2006, where his dissertation work won the SBC Presidential Fellowship award. In 2010, the Popular Science magazine named him one of America’s top ten brilliant scientists under the age of 38 for leading the development of the AutoWitness burglar tracking system and the AutoSense wearable sensor system. On the theory side, he is known for establishing new models of coverage with wireless sensors such as barrier coverage for intrusion detection and trap coverage for target tracking.



Websites for the AutoSense and FieldStream projects for further reading.




Feb 23rd

Dr. Robert Kozma, UoM

Title: Phase Transitions in the Cortex: Experimental Evidences and Theoretical Models

Abstract: Higher cognition granulates the seemingly continuous temporal sequences of perceptual experiences into meaningful and comprehendible chunks of concepts and complex behavioral schemas. They are accessed during future action selection and decisions. These activities use spatio-temporal patterns emergent over dynamic landscapes, and provide an alternative to the notorious symbol grounding problem. Mathematically, these processes have been successfully described using ODEs with distributed parameters and by PDEs derived for the cortical tissue. In an alternative approach, we introduce the neuropercolation model, based on random graph theory. Neuropercolation links pattern-based spatio-temporal encoding and generalized, non-local percolation and phase transitions in random graphs. Scale-free behavior and small-world effects in cortical tissues are important properties analyzed by neuropercolation. Unlike phase transitions in physical systems, neuropercolation has a mesoscopic character, with intermittent long-range correlations. Noise is a driving source of the corresponding dynamics, producing random processes with apparent deterministic characteristics, representing a key substrate of of high-level cognition

Biography: Robert Kozma is Dunavant University Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Director of the Center for Large-Scale Integrated Optimization and Networks (CLION), The University of Memphis, TN. He is recipient of various awards, including the “Gabor Award” (2010) by the International Neural Network Society for his revolutionary work on neural networks and applications, the “Alumni Association Distinguished Research Achievement Award,” University of Memphis (2010). He holds degrees in Physics (PhD, Delft), Mathematics and Engineering (MSc, Budapest and Moscow). He has been with the faculty of Dept.  Quantum Science & Engineering (Tohoku, Japan), Information Sciences (Otago U, NZ). He has held visiting positions at UC Berkeley; NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA; Sarnoff Co., Princeton, NJ; AFRL/HAFB, MA, and others. He has 3 decades of research experience in intelligent systems design and analysis, computational brain research, knowledge acquisition and autonomous decision making in animals and animats. Research in his Lab has been funded by NASA, NSF, JPL, AFRL, AFOSR, NRC, and other grants. He has published 6 books, ~200 articles in international journals, books, and in peer-reviewed conference proceedings. Dr. Kozma serves on the AdCom of IEEE Computational intelligence Society, on the Board of Governors of the International Neural Network Society. He Chairs the Distinguished Lecturer Program of IEEE CIS. He has been Program Chair/Co-Chair and General Chair of various IJCNN meetings. He is Associate Editor of Neural Networks, Neurocomputing, Cognitive Systems Research, Computational Neurodynamics, J of Applied Functional Analysis, New Mathematics and Natural Computation.

Mar 1st

Dr. Xiahou Huang, UoM

Title: Gold Nanoparticles for Cancer Diagnosis and Photothermal Therapy

Abstract: Nanotechnology is a burgeoning field and is anticipated to bring about breakthroughs in cancer nanomedicine by generating new investigation tools, diagnostic products and therapeutic agents. By virtue of their reduced size, nanoscale materials exhibit exceptional physical and chemical properties that are not available to bulk solid or individual molecules. These unusual properties, together with the small size and the functional ability with targeting ligands, make nano-sized particles (generally 1-100 nm) very useful for cellular imaging, molecular detection and targeted therapy. In the last few years, we have been working on development and applications of gold nanoparticles, especially gold nanorods, for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Gold nanoparticles are capability of confining resonant photons in such a manner as to induce coherent collective oscillation of their conduction band electrons, a phenomenon leading to two important properties: strongly enhanced radiative (such as absorption and scattering) and nonradiative photothermal properties. By changing the shape of the nanoparticles from spheres to rods, these properties can be tuned from visible to near infrared region, an optical window with significant in vivo implications. By linking to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibodies, the nanorods specifically bind to cancer cells and thus enables surface plasmon resonance light imaging and noninvasive near infrared photothermal therapy. The nanorods also assemble on the surface of cancer cells and thus induce strongly enhanced Raman scattering, making surface-enhanced Raman scattering a cancer diagnostic tool. Coating the nanorods with biocompatible polymers, they can preferentially accumulate in tumors and subsequent irradiation with near infrared laser lead to significant inhibition on tumor growth. Our recent research has shown that gold nanorods can specifically target to tumor at distinct regions (i.e. tumor neovessels, stromal cells and tumor cells) through ligand design. We also found that active molecular targeting does not significantly influence the tumor nanoparticle uptake. These results suggest that mass transport across the tumor vasculature is a rate-limiting step for large nanoparticles, and the kinetics of this step is largely unaffected by receptor binding.

Biography: I received my PhD in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology in May 2006 (advisor: Prof Mostafa A. El-Sayed). From 2006-2008, I stayed in Mostafa El-Sayed’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow. From 2008-2010, I worked at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Tech as a distinguished CCNE (Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence) postdoctoral fellow, supervised by Prof. Shuming Nie and Prof. Mostafa El-Sayed. During all those years of doctoral and postdoctoral research, I have been working on gold nanoparticles for cancer detection and treatment. I have published 27 papers which have more than 2000 citations. One groundbreaking work is the development of novel near infrared-absorbing gold nanorods for light scattering cancer imaging and photothermal therapy in 2006. This work has opened a new genre of nanotechnology, as highlighted by Science Watch and Nanomedicine and underscored by the high citation of the publication (citation till to date: 678). I joined Department of Chemistry as a tenure-track assistant professor in August 2010, with a secondary appoint in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Currently my research interests are development of novel nanomaterials for cancer imaging, spectroscopic detection, gene and drug delivery, photothermal and photodynamic therapy.

Mar 9th

No Physics Seminar This Week

Mar 16th

Dr Charles Blaha, UoM

Title: New Neurosurgical Approaches to Treating Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Abstract: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been demonstrated to be an effective neurosurgical treatment for several pathologies including Parkinson’s disease, tremor, epilepsy, depression, and chronic pain.  In collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Department of Functional Stereotactic Neurosurgery we have developed a novel intraoperative neurochemical monitoring system, using wireless instantaneous neurotransmitter concentration sensor (WINCS) system, which combines digital telemetry with amperometry and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) for real-time, chemically resolved measurements at an implanted microelectrode of neurotransmitters including dopamine, adenosine, serotonin, glutamate, and histamine.  In my seminar I will describe our first application of the WINCS system in human Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor patients during DBS neurosurgery.  Our results suggest that next generation DBS systems that couples digital telemetry with FSCV may be useful as the sensing component of a "smart" DBS device providing enhanced utility to human patients.


Professor Charles D. Blaha

Director of the Division of Experimental Psychology (U Memphis)

Director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Consortium (Mayo Clinic)

University of Memphis

Department of Psychology


Ph.D.  Psychopharmacology and Neurochemistry                1983 – 1986

Institute of Neuroscience, Departments of Psychology/Biology/Chemistry, University of Oregon


Postdoctoral Research Fellow                                               1986 – 1989

Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada


Medical Research Council of Canada Research Scholar      1990 – 1998

Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada


Associate Professor                                                               1998 – 2003

Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


Professor                                                                                2004 – pres

Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, Tennessee, USA


Current NIH RO1 Funding

Mouse Model of Developmental Cerebellar Damage Related to Autism                           $2,060,000

Gene to Phenotype Networks for Alcohol and Drug Addiction                                        $2,256,255

Career Total                                                                                                                         $12.5 million



93 peer reviewed papers, 19 book chapters, and 127 conference proceedings.

Mar 23rd

Dr. Lewis O'Kelly & Dr. Robert Marchini, UoM

Title: Physics is Phun

Abstract: Professsors O’Kelly and Marchini will perform various demonstrations and probably hurt themselves in various unique ways.  Demonstrations involving electricity, fluids, optics and mechanics will be attempted accompanied by a variety of new excuses for the ones that fail.  No fault waivers will be required by all attendees.

Mar 30th

Dr. Jon Russ, Dept of Chemistry, Rhodes College

Title: Inroads Into Detecting IEDs: Extraction, Isolation and Detection of Explosive Residues in Air

Abstract: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were responsible for 60% of the casualties in Iraq between 2003 and 2010, and currently account for 70% of the casualties in Afghanistan (2001- present).  As a part of a collaborative project, my research group at Rhodes joined with colleagues from Arkansas State University, Radiance Technologies (Huntsville, AL) and the US Army Space and Strategic Defense Command to study methods for detecting IEDs in the field. For our part, my students and I focused on air sampling, which included methods for isolating and then concentrating explosive residues from dust laden air. We employed virtual impaction as the first stage in isolating explosive vapors, followed by concentrating the molecules on solid phase micro-extractors. For the detection and measurements we used gas chromatography with an electron capture detector. In this talk I will present our experimental methodologies for evaluating the sampling system and concentrators at Rhodes.

Biography: Jon Russ is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Rhodes College where he has been on faculty for the past seven years; previously, he was at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro Arkansas.  Dr. Russ received his B.S. in Chemistry from Corpus Christi State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Texas A & M University (in 1987). His research interests are varied, but mainly focus on applying novel analytical methods to interdisciplinary questions.  Ongoing research projects include analyses of prehistoric rock paints using Laser Ablation ICP-MS and geostatistical mapping of lead contamination in Memphis.  The talk here will focus on the isolation of explosives from air using Solid Phase Micro-Extractors (SPMEs).

April 6th

Dr. Stephanie Ivey UoM

Presentation Abstract

Transforming Undergraduate Civil Engineering Curriculum at the U of M:  How do we address changing accreditation requirements and the vision for engineers of the future?


The role of civil engineers is evolving beyond that of a technical professional with recognition that civil engineers play a critical role in the planning, management, and development of the infrastructure of a community. This presentation will describe a project underway in the U of M Department of Civil Engineering (NSF DUE-0942366) to address the changing requirements for educating civil engineers of the future.  The project is a collaborative three-year curriculum transformation effort designed to integrate a GIS-enabled design approach across a sequence of required civil engineering courses at the 1000, 2000, and 3000 course levels.  Development of curricular components involves three faculty members who are collectively responsible for teaching the targeted courses.  The collaborative development model was selected so that curricular links between the courses are explicit and that a clear path for student skills progression in terms of technical competency, data synthesis and analysis, and problem solving is articulated in the materials developed.


The ultimate goal for this project is that students will develop an improved ability to analyze engineering problems in multiple contexts using a GIS platform. It is also expected that the project will identify best practices in terms of curriculum transformation to achieve the goal of enhanced student skill level not only in technical content, but also in societal and global context as identified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as critical for engineers of the future. Project rationale and methodology, progress to date, and assessment challenges will be described.  An example linking current transportation policy research (Complete Streets/Context Sensitive Design) to project goals will also be presented.




Dr. Stephanie S. Ivey is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Memphis.  Her primary research interests are in transportation policy, freight modeling, and undergraduate STEM education.  She has been a program director for the Herff College of Engineering’s targeted outreach program, Girls Experiencing Engineering, since its inception in 2004, and has served as program faculty in other co-educational outreach programs. Dr. Ivey is the faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers at the University, is part of the ITE Transportation Education Council, and serves as the President for the West Tennessee Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.   She is also a member of the Tennessee Safe Routes to School State Network (Complete Streets Subcommittee) and the Memphis Complete Streets Partnership.

April 13th

Dr. Don Franceschetti, UoM

Title: Godzilla vs. the Teenage Mutant Zombie Electrons

Abstract: Recent discussions in the wake of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami and the threat to nuclear power plants in the region have highlighted the lack of general understanding of nuclear processes and the electricity generation and distribution system in general.  In addition to (hopefully) dispelling some common misconceptions about radioactivity, radiation and electrical power in general (exactly what do we pay MLGW for anyway?) I will provide an outline of the basic physics that makes our electrically powered world possible and discuss some of the risks and benefits of various forms of electric power generation.

May 04, 2011, Seminar at 3:00 with Refreshments at 2:30 in room MN 222

Stephen Spiegelberg, Ph.D., Galvin Braithwaite, Ph.D.

Cambridge Polymer Group, Inc.

Title: Biomedical Testing and Research Development

Abstract: Cambridge Polymer Group, Inc. is a contract research organization focused on providing materials, testing, and engineering solutions for clients worldwide. Headquartered in Boston, MA, our researchers are experts in a broad range of scientific fields, including chemical, electrical, biomedical and mechanical engineering, materials science, and biology. We combine our expertise in material properties, analytical testing, formulation development, and instrumentation engineering to provide clients with one-stop problem solving. CPG’s core competencies include property enhancement, test methodology development, radiation chemistry, rheology, failure analysis and materials formulations. Our work can be found in a range of industries including but not limited to biomedical, resin manufacturers and processors, consumer products, gels, adhesives, food products, and inks. We offer a line of analytical instruments for polymer characterization and have designed custom instrumentation for clients. Clients have used our services for developing new materials, prototypes design for proof-of-concept studies, experimental design and data collection for patents and capital investment funding, and out-sourced research for new and existing product lines.

This presentation discusses some of the projects that we have carried out for clients along the entire product lifecycle, from initial concept to support of products in the market place.
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