OpenCon Q&A: Changing Culture

We are podcasting the question and answer section of the live broadcast ECS did of the OpenCon satellite event held at the 232nd ECS Meeting in October of 2017.

ECS OpenCon was a community event aimed at creating a culture of change in how research is designed, shared, discussed, and disseminated, with the ultimate goal of making scientific progress faster.

ECS was the first scholarly society to host an OpenCon satellite event.

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2017 Canada Section Awards

Canadian flagThe ECS Canada Section recently awarded Leah Ellis and Yurij Mozharivskyj the 2017 Canada Section Student Award and W. Lash Miller Award, respectively.

Canada Section Student Award

The Canada Section Student Award was established in 1987 to recognize promising young scientists and engineers in the field of electrochemical power sources. The 2017 award went to Leah Ellis, a PhD candidate at Dalhousie University working in lithium-ion battery research.

“This ECS Canada Section Student Award is very prestigious,” Ellis said. “Looking at the list of past award winners, I feel very honored and humbled to be included in this list. The award is very inspiring to me, and I hope to live up to its reputation.”

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Royal Society of Chemistry2018 Call for Nominations

This is the formal call for nominations for the Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Electrochemistry Group for 2018.

The Faraday Medal is currently awarded annually by the Electrochemistry Group of the RSC to an electrochemist working outside the UK and Ireland in recognition of their outstanding original contributions and innovation as a mid-career researcher in any field of electrochemistry.

Detailed information about the award, nomination procedure and required material can be found on the award page of the RSC’s website. You will also find a list of notable past medalists that include many ECS members.

Nominations should be directed to the Group Secretary, Dr. Mark Symes, via email. The nomination deadline is 17:00 GMT on January 31, 2018.

Matt Murbach

Matthew Murbach, co-founder of Battery Informatics, Inc.

Matthew Murbach, founding president of the ECS student chapter at the University of Washington (UW) and motivating force behind the launch of the ECS Data Sciences Hack Day, has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the area of energy. According to Forbes, Murbach was recognized for his work “to commercialize battery management breakthroughs to enable faster charging, finer control over degradation and longer lifetimes.”

Murbach is co-founder of Battery Informatics, Inc. and a PhD student in chemical engineering at the University of Washington. Murbach’s PhD research is exploring new ways to diagnose the state of health in batteries, a critical and expensive asset in the emerging low carbon energy economy.

Battery Informatics is a next-generation battery management company focused on capturing the maximum value of energy storage through software solutions. The company is licensing UW intellectual property to extract the maximum value from these battery assets over the whole battery lifecycle. Just this month, they are flipping the switch on their first customer installation.

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By: Kevin Elliott, Michigan State University

Scientists these days face a conundrum. As Americans are buffeted by accounts of fake news, alternative facts and deceptive social media campaigns, how can researchers and their scientific expertise contribute meaningfully to the conversation?

There is a common perception that science is a matter of hard facts and that it can and should remain insulated from the social and political interests that permeate the rest of society. Nevertheless, many historians, philosophers and sociologists who study the practice of science have come to the conclusion that trying to kick values out of science risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Ethical and social values – like the desire to promote economic development, public health or environmental protection – often play integral roles in scientific research. By acknowledging this, scientists might seem to give away their authority as a defense against the flood of misleading, inaccurate information that surrounds us. But I argue in my book “A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science” that if scientists take appropriate steps to manage and communicate about their values, they can promote a more realistic view of science as both value-laden and reliable.

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By: Jane A. Flegal, University of California, Berkeley and Andrew Maynard, Arizona State University

Hollywood’s latest disaster flick, “Geostorm,” is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the Earth’s climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change. Everyone, everywhere can quite literally “have a nice day,” until – spoiler alert! – things do not go as planned.

Admittedly, the movie is a fantasy set in a deeply unrealistic near-future. But coming on the heels of one of the most extreme hurricane seasons in recent history, it’s tempting to imagine a world where we could regulate the weather. Despite a long history of interest in weather modification, controlling the climate is, to be frank, unattainable with current technology. But underneath the frippery of “Geostorm,” is there a valid message about the promises and perils of planetary management?

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Shirley Meng on Sustainable Power

Our guest on this episode of the ECS Podcast is Shirley Meng, professor of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego. Meng founded the Sustainable Power and Energy Center, the goal of which is solving key technical challenges in distributed energy generation, storage, and power management.

Meng is also the principal investigator of Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion research group. Her group is focused on functional nano and micro-scale materials for energy storage and conversion.

She talked to Rob Gerth, ECS’s director of marketing and communications.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Podbean, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher and Acast.

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By: Timothy J. Jorgensen, Georgetown University

Ask people to name the most famous historical woman of science and their answer will likely be: Madame Marie Curie. Push further and ask what she did, and they might say it was something related to radioactivity. (She actually discovered the radioisotopes radium and polonium.) Some might also know that she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. (She actually won two.)

But few will know she was also a major hero of World War I. In fact, a visitor to her Paris laboratory in October of 1917 – 100 years ago this month – would not have found either her or her radium on the premises. Her radium was in hiding and she was at war.

For Curie, the war started in early 1914, as German troops headed toward her hometown of Paris. She knew her scientific research needed to be put on hold. So she gathered her entire stock of radium, put it in a lead-lined container, transported it by train to Bordeaux – 375 miles away from Paris – and left it in a safety deposit box at a local bank. She then returned to Paris, confident that she would reclaim her radium after France had won the war.

With the subject of her life’s work hidden far away, she now needed something else to do. Rather than flee the turmoil, she decided to join in the fight. But just how could a middle-aged woman do that? She decided to redirect her scientific skills toward the war effort; not to make weapons, but to save lives.

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By: Melanie Ohi, University of Michigan and Michael Cianfrocco, University of Michigan

Many people will never have heard of cryo-electron microscopy before the announcement that Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson had won the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work developing this technology. So what is it, and why is it worthy of this honor?

Cryo-electron microscopy – or cryo-EM – is an imaging technology that allows scientists to obtain pictures of the biological “machines” that work inside our cells. Most amazingly, it can reconstruct individual snapshots into movie-like scenes that show how protein components of these biological machines move and interact with each other.

It’s like the difference between having a list of all of the individual parts of an engine versus being able to see the engine fully assembled and running. The parts list can tell you a lot, but there’s no replacement for seeing what you’re studying in action.

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Our guest today, James Fenton, is the director of the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida – the nation’s largest and most active state-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency institute.

Fenton is also the current secretary of the ECS Board of Directors.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

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