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About Sigma Xi » News » 2006 AMSRC

October 16, 2006

Contacts: Laura Nigro, 800-243-6534 or ljnigro@sigmaxi.org
Kevin Bowen, 800-243-6534 or kbowen@sigmaxi.org

Award talks and science sessions are open to the media free of charge.

Designer of Super-Efficient Engine to Speak at Sigma Xi Annual Meeting

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - How would you like to drive 1,000 miles between fill-ups and 75,000 between oil changes? Texas A&M University chemical engineer Mark T. Holtzapple will talk about his design of just such a super-efficient engine at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit on Saturday, November 4, from 12:45-1:45 p.m.

At that time Holtzapple will receive the first Walston Chubb Award for Innovation during the 2006 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference. The award is designed to honor and promote creativity among scientists and engineers.

Sigma Xi's four-day meeting runs from November 2-5. General Motors is Platinum Sponsor for the event. Industry, innovation and interdisciplinary investigation are the themes of eight Saturday Science Sessions on November 4 involving a number of researchers in the Detroit area (see details below).

Holtzapple’s StarRotor engine, currently under development, could be as much as 60 percent efficient - two to four times more efficient than today’s conventional internal combustion engines. And he said it will be able to run on a variety of fuels, such as

"The StarRotor engine produces almost no pollution," said Holtzapple. "I really believe this is the engine we've all been waiting for." The inventive Texas A&M engineer holds 26 patents. His research interests also include renewable energy resources, space life support, water desalination and food processing.

Talks by other Sigma Xi award winners will showcase outstanding researchers and science communicators. Speakers include pioneering biologist Susan Lindquist and physicist and best-selling novelist Alan Lightman, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory astrophysicist W. Raphael Hix. Distinguished science journalists Claudia Dreifus and Richard Hill will be inducted as honorary Sigma Xi members. Visit www.sigmaxi.org for the complete schedule of events.

A special Saturday-only ticket ($60) includes the Chubb Award Luncheon and all Saturday science sessions. Tickets for the Sigma Xi Annual Banquet ($70), to be held at the Henry Ford Museum, will not be available after October 25. Banquet attendees will have full access to the museum's exhibits. The online registration deadline is October 25. Saturday-only tickets may also be purchased on site beginning Thursday, November 2.

At the annual Sigma Xi Student Research Conference on November 3-4, 250 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country are expected to present research, attend career advancement workshops and participate in other activities.

Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with about 65,000 members and more than 500 chapters in North America and overseas. The society publishes American Scientist magazine and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.


Saturday, November 4, 2006
GM Renaissance Center, Detroit

These classroom-style sessions are designed to stimulate discussion and suggest new research directions. Science session formats include workshop, seminar, panel, roundtable and lecture.

Brains, Planes and Automobiles
Saturday, November 4, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Christian Kreipke, Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Zhifeng Kou, Dept. of Radiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Yimin Shen, Dept. of Radiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Randy Morgan, Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults. Scientists report that four-fifths of marines and sailors returning from Iraq suffer from some form of TBI. Such dreadful statistics have galvanized multiple investigators to study the deleterious effects of TBI. The field has traditionally been the domain of neuroscience and clinical neurology but these latest investigations combine a broad range of disciplines. Aftercare managers borrow ideas from anthropology to improve their methods, whereas therapists look to psychology to ameliorate cognitive deficit following injury. Biomechanical engineers are developing devices and structures that effectively protect the brain from TBI. This session will span multidisciplinary research in developing more efficacious therapies and aftercare for those who suffer from TBI.

Reaching for the Stars
The Interdisciplinary Nature of Interstellar Studies

Saturday, November 4, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Presenters: Steven Federman, Ritter Astrophysical Research Center, University of Toledo
Randall Smith, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Eric Herbst, Dept. of Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry, Ohio State University
Anuj Sarma, Dept. of Physics, DePaul University

Interstellar space sets the stage for birth and death of stars and the evolution of galaxies throughout the Universe. Stars and planets form in interstellar clouds. As a star dies, newly synthesized elements made in their cores disperse and enrich the surrounding interstellar material. These elements are then incorporated into the next generation of stars and planets. Interdisciplinary approaches offer fertile ground for modeling events taking place in interstellar space. In this session, participants will learn about atomic and molecular processes occurring in the interstellar medium. The discussion will include chemical reactions in the gas phase and on stellar surfaces, atomic processes in hot ionized gas, the role of magnetic fields in controlling dynamics, and how events in interstellar space connect to astrobiology.

Fractals on the Land, and Beyond
Saturday, November 4, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Presenter: Scott Rice-Snow, Dept. of Geology, Ball State University
John Emert, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences, Ball State University

Drainage divides, cave perimeters, ecosystem boundaries and other landscape elements are highly irregular, showing many overlaid scales of wandering that present special challenges for interpretation and land management. The fractal characteristics of these boundaries can be quantified using the divider method, the same simple technique that reveals fractal geometries in organism membranes, urbanization patterns and the paths of floating objects at sea. This session will include an open forum on the implications of fractal boundary complexity across all fields of study. Practical applications for diverse tasks will be considered, such as flood forecasting and environmental remediation. Hands-on exercises will explore links between qualitative visual perceptions of complex traces and their quantitative measures.

Nanoreactors in Life Science and Medicine
Saturday, November 4, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Presenter: Agnes Ostafin, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Notre Dame

Nanoscience and nanoengineering will continue to revolutionize medicine, science and industry, offering extraordinary benefits to society in the coming decades. The next generation of nanomaterials and technologies are already on the horizon. One of these emerging areas is nanoreactor science and engineering. This technology focuses on controlling physical and chemical processes in small confined spaces, and on engineering these spaces for optimum performance including control of environmental interactions. Scientists and engineers are developing advanced nanoreactors as vehicles for enzymes and sensors, as nanofactories for PCR, and for the fabrication of other nanostructured materials, nanomotors and actuators. These existing materials will find application in smarter, more functional products—harnessing them for the life sciences and medicine is expected to lead to new therapies, diagnostic capabilities, and tools that will extend and improve the quality of life for everyone globally.

Fueling the Future
Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Presenters: Norm Brinkman, Fuel Chemistry and Systems Chemical & Environmental Sciences Group, General Motors R&D Center
Philip A. Meyers, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan
George Howard, Dept. of Psychology, University of Notre Dame
Christine Sloane, Director of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Codes and Standards, General Motors R&D Center

The cost of gas at the pump is on everyone’s mind these days, and it doesn't look like there's any relief in sight. But scientists do have options in the "pipeline." In this science session, a panel of experts gathers to review major technologies that offer solutions to the present crisis. The experts will evaluate the latest research in hydrogen fuel cell technology, feed stocks for ethanol production and the geochemical basis of petroleum exploration to provide points of comparison for their potential to meet energy demand into this century.

From Bench to Bedside
How Interdisciplinary Research at the Bench Paves the Way for Industry Drug Development and Preventative Medicine

Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Presenters: Susan McDowell, Biotechnology Program, Ball State University
Robert U. Simpson, Dept. of Pharmacology, University of Michigan
Maija H. Zile, Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University
Laura F. Michael, Cardiovascular Research, Eli Lilly and Company

Major medical advances in drug development and the prevention of cardiovascular disease often originate at the research bench and often develop down unexpected avenues. Who knew, for example, that a drug for lowering cholesterol might also fight systemic bacterial infections? That vitamin intake during pregnancy could determine the cardiovascular health of your child, not just at birth but at age 60? An emerging concept is that the development of innovative therapeutic and preventative strategies will rely more and more on the active interchange of ideas from all fields of science. As the number one killer in the U.S., the economic and social importance of cardiovascular disease is enormous and will continue to drive governmental and industrial policy well into the new millennium.

X Waves
Non-Spreading Waves Focus on Innovative Medical Imaging and Optical Communications

Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Presenter: Jian-yu Lu, Dept. of Bioengineering, University of Toledo

X waves are multiple-frequency waves that are exact solutions to the free-space Maxwell Equations and the isotropic/homogeneous wave equations. These solutions are propagation invariant. In practice, when an X wave is realized with a finite aperture optical device or an acoustic transducer, it maintains a non-spreading property over a very large distance. Because of this, X waves are studied in various branches of physics. Recently, X waves have been investigated in nonlinear physics where interaction between light and matters produces X waves. This science session will look at questions about X waves (unique features, theoretical implications and their relationship with the Lorentz transformation). An example of practical applications of X waves includes an imaging method based on the X wave theory for high resolution, contrast and frame rate medical imaging. This session includes a look at an imaging system that that has been developed to study this imaging method.

Science as Story: A Conversation with Claudia Dreifus, Richard Hill and Alan Lightman
Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45 p.m.

The worlds of science and journalism often collide, but in this session they come together. Join Sigma Xi's newest honorary life members and the 2006 McGovern Award winner as they talk with the editor of American Scientist about science writing. Can science journalism be much more than health headlines? How can narrative, imagery, interviewing and other techniques convey the rich and complex stories of science to the public?


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