No. 7, Summer 2020
Director's Message:

What a year it has been so far! With the global disruptions and adjustments in many technological, logistical, economic and social sectors, there will undoubtedly be a lot of unintended and accelerated innovation. One group that brings the theory and practice of broad spectrum innovation together, in my humble opinion, relatively well, is Innovation Leader. They have an upcoming 2-day virtual event called ' Charting the future of corporate innovation'. I would encourage you to check it out. Normally, they would have an in-person event I would attend for the networking and discussions.

On June 16th, the Booth School of Business along with the San Francisco Bay Booth Alumni Club and the PME presented a webinar on " UChicago Re-Engineers Engineering", with a high level discussion of how the new engineering school was thoughtfully conceived to be different and impactful. If you missed it, you can find it HERE.A few other points to mention:

  • The previous announcement about the 2020 FORUM being in September should be ignored. With the near term uncertainty, planning and executing will be tenuous, at best. I would rather push it off and plan for a higher impact in-person event in 2021. That being said, there are plans for different ~1 hour virtual webinars to help focus and complement corporate innovation plans your company may have.

  • As it seems that almost everything is happening online what are tips and pitfalls of these events? Tips and experience on 'How to Organize an Online conference' from a friend and former colleague in Wisconsin.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have!

Felix Lu
Director of Corporate Engagement
The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering
The Industry Seminar Series may move to a virtual format in the fall - stay tuned.
2020 FORUM

Postponed with the possibility of going virtual in small steps

For the near term, there is coordination with MyChoice and virtual visits/meetings with companies. Stay tuned for more details. If you'd like to host a visit for a small group of senior graduate students, please let me know.
Join our PME / Industry linkedIn Groups to get occasional updates and interesting articles!
UChicago Re-Engineers Engineering - an overview of the PME and our main themes by Professors Matt Tirrell, Jeff Hubbell, and David Awschalom
Looking for potential Academic/Industry partners online?

If you are a faculty member looking for industry interactions or partners for translational opportunities, please fill out a profile with Noted Source / Innoget, and contact your Polsky representative about your ideas.
Graduate Student Internships

Are you looking for interns with a highly developed laboratory and/or computational skill set? We are encouraging our 3rd and 4th year PhD students who are curious about industrial positions to seek out internships with companies. Companies can help by providing contact points and a description of the position. Please send any questions or solicitations to Felix .
Additionally, companies that are actively working with faculty can discuss getting NSF funding for graduate student internships by applying for it through the normal faculty led proposals.

Accurate and widespread testing is crucial to managing the coronavirus pandemic, yet many people don’t have access to tests. To get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, patients typically must visit designated testing sites. But a new research project could lead to an affordable, at-home test that offers rapid detection.

Researchers from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) and Department of Pathology were awarded a Big Ideas Generator (BIG) grant to develop a handheld COVID-19 testing device that provides results in five minutes.
Does your technical management want an executive understanding of Quantum Engineering and how it may benefit your company?
Polsky Center, CQE Expand Quantum Science and Tech Industry Relations

Dr. Preeti Chalsani, a current member of the technology commercialization team, will transition into the new role of Director of Industry Partnerships for quantum information science. In this position she will lead and manage all activities necessary to cultivate and ensure the success of quantum industry partnerships, engaging the Polsky Center’s broad resources and network, and the CQE’s leading quantum scientific and engineering talent, corporate partners, and growing workforce pipeline.
Argonne, Polsky Center will help young inventors commercialize their ideas

Two University of Chicago innovators developing quantum technologies  are among six selected for Argonne National Laboratory’s entrepreneurship program,  Chain Reaction Innovations, which helps scientists launch and scale businesses based on their innovative research.Their ideas include ways to prepare for the quantum computer revolution and better infrared sensors, which could even potentially scan for COVID-19 fevers in passersby.

“The Chain Reaction Innovations program provides two years of intense support to help scientists learn how to de-risk science-based innovations and build a business around them,” said John A. Carlisle, the program’s director. “This way, they can successfully translate their discoveries into real applications that have high societal and economic impact.”

In its fourth year, the Chain Reaction Innovations program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. CRI innovators have raised nearly $18 million and helped create 76 jobs as of February 2020.

Beginning in June, each innovator from the new cohort will work full-time with a host scientist at UChicago-affiliated Argonne. They also will receive support from mentors at UChicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and mHUB.

Awschalom and co-authors also describe that they can take a page from the modern electronics industry’s playbook to drastically improve their quantum states. “Electronic devices are all about shuffling electrons around in a controlled way,” said Anderson. “It turns out that we can use the same tricks to move electrons around to get rid of all of the unwanted electrical noise that our sensitive quantum system might see.”
Computational modeling

A team led by Prof. Giulia Galli and Prof. Juan de Pablo from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago and Prof. Francois Gygi from the University of California, Davis has created complex computer simulations to better understand the properties of salt in water under mantle conditions.

By coupling simulation techniques developed by the three research groups and using sophisticated codes, the team has created a model of saltwater based on quantum mechanical calculations. Using the model, the researchers discovered key molecular changes relative to ambient conditions that could have implications in understanding the interesting chemistry that lies deep beneath the Earth’s surface.

“Our simulations represent the first study of the free energy of salts in water under pressure,” Galli said. “That lays the foundation to understand the influence of salt present in water at high pressure and temperature, such as the conditions of the Earth’s mantle.” The results were published June 16 in the journal Nature Communications.
The latest updates and ways to engage:

Innovation Fest Polsky
Articles of interest to our corporate affiliates, but not associated with the University of Chicago
Through dust, not rust, the metal plays a complex, controversial role in Earth’s climate

"Proposed in 1990 by the late oceanographer John Martin, the hypothesis suggests that flurries of dust — swept from cold, dry landscapes like the glacial outwash where Kaplan now stood, trowel in hand — played a crucial role in the last major ice age. When this dust landed in the iron-starved Southern Ocean, Martin argued, the iron within it would have fertilized massive blooms of diatoms and other phytoplankton. Single-celled algae with intricate silica shells, diatoms photosynthesize, pulling carbon from the atmosphere and transforming it to sugar to fuel their growth. Going a step further, Martin proposed that using iron to trigger diatom blooms might help combat global warming. “Give me half a tanker of iron and I’ll give you an ice age,” he once said half-jokingly at a seminar, reportedly in his best Dr. Strangelove accent."

The confluence of two passions - resonates with the UChicago culture. Check out the Immunoengineering Innovation Center for insights into our microbiome work.

"Kapono’s data acquisition techniques were a little different to those employed in the lab. On arrival in a new field location, he would surf for a week or so, get to know some of the local surfers and build up trust before asking them if they would be willing to participate in the Surfer Biome Project. Using sterile swabs, samples were taken from the faces, hands, ears, belly button and feet of participants, who were then asked to provide a fecal sample."

The Stanford physical chemist recounts his eventful childhood in Cleveland, and how his first chemistry experiment led to a spanking.

Dick Zare is a chemistry professor at Stanford University, US. He pioneered the use of lasers to study chemical reactions at the molecular level. He chaired the US National Science Foundation’s governing body, the National Science Board, from 1994 to 1996.

[From May 2017, but a great read!]

For 60 years, Americans poisoned themselves by pumping leaded gasoline into their cars. Then Clair Patterson, a scientist who helped build the atomic bomb and discovered the true age of the Earth, took on a billion-dollar industry.
Rather than pouring boiling or near-boiling water over coffee grounds and steeping for a few minutes, the cold-brew method involves mixing coffee grounds with room-temperature water and letting the mixture steep for anywhere from several hours to two days. Then it is strained through a sieve to filter out all the sludge-like solids, followed by filtering. This can be done at home in a Mason jar, or you can get fancy and use a French press or more elaborate Toddy system. It's not necessarily served cold (although it can be)—just brewed cold.

Co-author Niny Rao tasted her first cup of cold-brew coffee a few years ago while attending an ACS conference in San Diego. "I was like, 'Oh, my god, this is great!'" Rao told Ars. "It's not metallic. It's non acidic. It has a little bit of sweetness to it, and it's very full and flavorful."
Upcoming meetings

Leadership can emerge from almost any quarter. Especially in times of crisis, educators, government officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurs can all play critical roles in catalyzing new forms of collaboration. Given the speed with which we have seen entrepreneurs and their communities doing just this in response to the current pandemic, we’re confident that many local businesses will be able to not only build resiliency but also restore and identify new opportunities for growth.
Different ways to explore interactions with the PME:
  • senior design projects
  • internships
  • materials characterization /device fabrication facilities
  • participation in FORUM events
  • give an industry seminar!
  • Ask Felix!
Campus information
PARKING - You are welcome to park for free on certain streets if you can find it. The closest parking lot to the Eckhardt Research Center is the North parking lot located at the SE corner of 55th St and South Ellis Ave.