By: William Bentley, University of Maryland and Gregory Payne, University of Maryland

CellsMicroelectronics has transformed our lives. Cellphones, earbuds, pacemakers, defibrillators – all these and more rely on microelectronics’ very small electronic designs and components. Microelectronics has changed the way we collect, process and transmit information.

Such devices, however, rarely provide access to our biological world; there are technical gaps. We can’t simply connect our cellphones to our skin and expect to gain health information. For instance, is there an infection? What type of bacteria or virus is involved? We also can’t program the cellphone to make and deliver an antibiotic, even if we knew whether the pathogen was Staph or Strep. There’s a translation problem when you want the world of biology to communicate with the world of electronics.

The research we’ve just published with colleagues in Nature Communications brings us one step closer to closing that communication gap. Rather than relying on the usual molecular signals, like hormones or nutrients, that control a cell’s gene expression, we created a synthetic “switching” system in bacterial cells that recognizes electrons instead. This new technology – a link between electrons and biology – may ultimately allow us to program our phones or other microelectronic devices to autonomously detect and treat disease.

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“We all need to understand each other and what we can do together to benefit the greater community.”
-Way Kuo

Way Kuo is president of the City University of Hong Kong. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Russian Academy of Engineering.

He was the first foreign expert invited to discuss nuclear safety following the Fukushima incident. He argues that a holistic view of energy development is required, one that prioritizes the production and use of reliable energy sources over that of polluting and volatile ones. He maps out a policy that encourages and rewards the conservation of energy and efficiency in energy use.

You can meet Kuo in person at the 231st ECS Meeting this May in New Orleans, LA, where he will deliver the ECS Lecture, entitled “A Risk Look at Energy Development.”

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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HydrogenNew research led by ECS Fellow John Turner, researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, demonstrates a pioneering, efficient way to make renewable hydrogen.

Hydrogen has many highly sought after qualities when he comes to clean energy sources. It is a simple element, high in energy, and produces almost zero pollution when burned. However, while hydrogen is one of the most plentiful elements in the universe, it doesn’t occur naturally as a gas – instead, it’s always combined with other elements. That’s where efforts in water-splitting come in.

If researchers can effectively split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, new branches of hydrogen production could emerge.

Turner and his team are working on a method to boost the longevity of highly efficient photochatodes in photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices.

“Electrochemistry nowadays is really the key,” Turner told ECS during a podcast in 2015. “We have fuel cells, we have electrolyzers, and we have batteries. All of the things going on in transportation and storage, it all comes down to electrochemical energy conversion.”

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STEMA new initiative that goes by the name, STEM the Divide, is looking to bring scientists out of the lab and into public office.

STEM the Divide is founded by the nonprofit 314 Action group (homage to Pi), which is focused on building a community for those in STEM and bridging the gap between scientists and public policy. The group’s main goals include: strengthening communications between the scientific community and public officials, providing a voice for the STEM community on social issues, and increasing STEM engagement in the media.

As a branch of 314 Action, STEM the Divide is dedicated to electing more STEM-educated leaders to the U.S. Senate, House, State Executive, and Legislative offices.

“There’s nothing in our Constitution that says we can only be governed by attorneys,” Shaughnessy Naughton, founder of STEM the Divide, tells The Washington Post. “Especially now, we need people with scientific backgrounds that are used to looking at the facts and forming an opinion based on the facts.”

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Application Deadline: April 15

Linford AwardThe Henry B. Linford Award for Distinguished Teaching was established in 1981 for excellence in teaching in subject areas of interest to the Society.

The award consists of a silver medal and a plaque that contains a bronze replica, both bearing the recipient’s name, the sum of $2,500 US, complimentary meeting registration for award recipient and companion, a dinner held in recipient’s honor during the designated meeting, and Life Membership in the Society. The recipient will receive the award in person at the designated Society meeting and deliver a general address on a subject related to the contributions for which the award is being presented. The recipient shall receive the award at the spring 2018 biannual meeting in Seattle, WA, USA and deliver a general address on a subject related to the contributions for which the award is being presented.

Submit an application today!

The Electrochemical Society distinguishes outstanding technical achievements in electrochemical, solid state science and technology, and recognizes exceptional service to the Society through the Honors & Awards Program. Recognition opportunities exist in the following categories: Society Awards, Division Awards, Student Awards and Section Awards. We could not do it without you!

Venkat SubramanianVenkat Subramanian is the Washington Research Foundation Innovation Professor of Chemical Engineering and Clean Energy at the University of Washington. His research efforts focus on computational models to bridge next-generation energy materials to battery management systems. Subramanian has recently been named a new technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the electrochemical engineering Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as technical editor?
I am humbled and honored to be a Journal of The Electrochemical Society technical editor and I hope to help improve the impact factor and reach of our journal without losing the rigor we are known for. In particular, the electrochemical engineering topical interest area serves a critical role of taking fundamental electrochemistry to industrial applications. My current aim is to promote both traditional and new industrial applications of electrochemistry across different scales.

What are some of the biggest barriers for authors and for readers in the current publishing model?
Once I had a proposal rejected in my early academic career wherein the reviewer criticized me for not being aware of a recent article. I called the program officer to convey my unfortunate situation of not having access to the specified journal at my institution. While there are interlibrary loans or other such mechanism, they are not optimal for making progress in research. Research requires instantaneous and immediate access. If you don’t have it, you lose out to your competitors who have such access. Note that every proposal is (and should be) reviewed on its merit and not resources available at a particular institution. Open access is critical for researchers and scientists.

What is the role of the Journal Impact Factor in scientific publishing?
Whether we like it or not, perception matters. Many academic departments have become highly interdisciplinary. Impact factor plays a big role in tenure and promotion decisions and there may be only one faculty member working in the field of electrochemistry. While I personally don’t read or benefit much from journals with high impact factor, I will strive hard to promote and improve the impact factor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and the perception about ECS journals in the scientific community.

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Toyota Fellowships Paying Off

ToyotaStarting in 2014, ECS partnered with Toyota Research Institute of North America to establish a fellowship for young researchers working in green energy technology, including efforts to find viable alternative energy sources as a replacement for oil, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and prevent air pollution.

The proposal submission deadline for the 2017-2018 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is Jan. 31, 2017. As we gear up for the third year of fellowship, ECS is checking in with two of the inaugural winners.

Methane to methanol conversion with Yogesh Surendranath

Yogesh Surendranath, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was one of the inaugural fellowship winners for his work in methane to methanol conversion.

“For a young investigator, this fellowship gives a greater visibility to research efforts and provides a degree of freedom,” Surendranath says. “Junior faculty members, while they are at the time in their careers where they are most likely to take on challenging problems, are at the very same time finding funding challenging. The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship provided us that freedom to tackle new and interesting areas.”

The proposed research that ultimately won Surendranath and his group a $50,000 grant is called, “Methanol Electrosynthesis at Carbon-Supported Molecular Active Sites.”

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2017 ECS Elections

This is a message to all voting members of The Electrochemical Society. The electronic proxy will arrive in your email inbox on Jan. 15, Feb. 15, and March 10. Candidates for the open officer positions within our governance structure are listed below.

Take a moment to review the full candidate biographies and election statements to make the most informed decision.

The voting deadline is midnight ET March 15, 2017.

Office of the President

Johna LeddyJohna Leddy

“As president of ECS, I will ensure a steady flow of information and ideas about how to engage Free the Science. Information plus energy will set the research free.”

Office of Vice President

Stefan De GendtStefan De Gendt

“Advancing science and technology is not just the mission of ECS, it should be the goal of every scientifically educated individual.”

 

Andrew HoffAndrew Hoff

“Nearly two decades into its second century, ECS strives to enable and advance electrochemical and solid state science and technology exploration and knowledge generation through the active participation of its members.”

By: Rose Hendricks, University of California, San Diego

We humans have collectively accumulated a lot of science knowledge. We’ve developed vaccines that can eradicate some of the most devastating diseases. We’ve engineered bridges and cities and the internet. We’ve created massive metal vehicles that rise tens of thousands of feet and then safely set down on the other side of the globe. And this is just the tip of the iceberg (which, by the way, we’ve discovered is melting). While this shared knowledge is impressive, it’s not distributed evenly. Not even close. There are too many important issues that science has reached a consensus on that the public has not.

Scientists and the media need to communicate more science and communicate it better. Good communication ensures that scientific progress benefits society, bolsters democracy, weakens the potency of fake news and misinformation and fulfills researchers’ responsibility to engage with the public. Such beliefs have motivated training programs, workshops and a research agenda from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on learning more about science communication. A resounding question remains for science communicators: What can we do better?

A common intuition is that the main goal of science communication is to present facts; once people encounter those facts, they will think and behave accordingly. The National Academies’ recent report refers to this as the “deficit model.”

But in reality, just knowing facts doesn’t necessarily guarantee that one’s opinions and behaviors will be consistent with them. For example, many people “know” that recycling is beneficial but still throw plastic bottles in the trash. Or they read an online article by a scientist about the necessity of vaccines, but leave comments expressing outrage that doctors are trying to further a pro-vaccine agenda. Convincing people that scientific evidence has merit and should guide behavior may be the greatest science communication challenge, particularly in our “post-truth” era.

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Application Deadline: April 15

Vittorio de Nora AwardThe Vittorio de Nora Award was established in 1971 to recognize distinguished contributions to the field of electrochemical engineering and technology.

The award consists of a gold medal and a plaque that contains a bronze replica thereof, both bearing the recipient’s name, the sum of $7,500, complimentary meeting registration for award recipient and companion, a dinner held in recipient’s honor during the designated meeting, and Life Membership in the Society. The recipient shall receive the award at the spring 2018 biannual meeting in Seattle, WA, USA and deliver a general address on a subject related to the contributions for which the award is being presented.

Submit an application today!

The Electrochemical Society distinguishes outstanding technical achievements in electrochemical, solid-state science and technology, and recognizes exceptional service to the Society through the Honors & Awards Program. Recognition opportunities exist in the following categories: Society Awards, Division Awards, Student Awards and Section Awards. We could not do it without you!

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