Purdue Engineering Podcast
Computational Modeling for Host-Pathogen Interaction Discovery with Elsje Pienaar

Computational Modeling for Host-Pathogen Interaction Discovery with Elsje Pienaar

September 24, 2020

In this episode highlighting the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, we meet Elsje Pienaar, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. We'll discuss her work to discover host-pathogen interactions through computational simulations.

Professor Eljse Pienaar shares about her experience using sophisticated computational models of systems pharmacology to help predict the effectiveness of drugs in a patient with hopes of accelerating drug development and offers advice to future biomedical engieers with an interest in her area of research. 

Professor Pienaar earned her MS and PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and did postdoctoral work in microbiology, immunology and chemical engineering at the University of Michigan as well as at Linköping University, Sweden. Her laboratory uses computational simulations of within-host pathogen, immune and drug dynamics to optimize treatment of infectious diseases. Current projects in the lab include TB, HIV, non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections and Ebola virus dynamics.  Learn more by visiting Pienaar's lab website:  Computational Systems Pharmacology Lab

This is one of three episodes featuring Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.  Listen to more about Biomedical Engineering and other engineering topics at the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Special thanks to Shruthi Suresh, our guest host for this podcast.  Shruthi is a PhD candidate at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering with a Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship and was previously a Leslie Bottorff Fellow.  Her research focuses on using signal processing, machine learning and data science to help individuals with mobility and visual impairments. When not in the lab, Shruthi can be found out on a run or curled up reading a book.

Gas-cooled Small Modular Reactors with Shripad Revankar

Gas-cooled Small Modular Reactors with Shripad Revankar

August 28, 2020

In this episode highlighting Nuclear Engineering, we meet Professor Shripad Revankar, Director of the Multiphase and Fuel Cell Research Laboratory in the School of Nuclear Engineering. We'll discuss his work with gas-cooled small modular reactors, part of generation IV of nuclear reactors, which are the safest and most efficient designs yet.

Gas-cooled small modular reactors operate at high temperatures up to 1,000 degrees celsius, are small and transportable, and can power areas that lack gridlines or support existing grids. These reactors are also practically autonomous, with minimal refueling and maintenance needs. Professor Revankar speaks to how nuclear energy complements the emergence of renewable energy, as it produces 55 percent of America’s carbon-free energy. Because many renewables are intermittent and dependent on environmental conditions, it is important to have a base energy that supplies continuous power that simultaneously supports environmental health.

In order to be licensed, reactor designs must contain detailed accident mitigation technologies and procedures.  Because small modular reactors have not been commercially built/operated yet, the regulatory process is still under way. To this end, Revankar is working to address depolarisation nuclear accidents, in which reactors have leaks from their primary systems. When this occurs, there is a chance the oxygen will come back and oxidize the reactor core, which can lead to overheating and meltdown. Revankar is developing an experimental setup, in collaboration with Texas A&M University and the Imperial College of London, through which they can test these accidents and determine mitigation strategies. This research will help ensure the safety of the gas-cooled reactors and assist developed and developing countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

This summer, Professor Revankar worked with both undergraduate and graduate students to perform scaling analysis on the experimental system setup, in addition to work with CAD modeling and other design projects. His research is approachable for college students of all ages, relevant, and pertinent to the success of generation IV reactors. Revankar’s passion for the field is tangible in each conversation he has, and he is driven each day by the passion exuded by his students, nuclear’s boundless applications, and the constant evolution and excitement of the field.

This is one of four episodes featuring Purdue University's Nuclear Engineering. Listen to more about Nuclear Engineering and others engineering topics at the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Special thanks to Destiny White, our guest host for this podcast.  Destiny is a junior in nuclear engineering at Purdue University. Throughout her three years, she has participated in activities ranging from rowing to nuclear security research. She currently serves as the founder and president of Minorities in Nuclear Engineering and Sciences (MINES), the treasurer of Purdue’s American Nuclear Society chapter, and a teaching assistant for the honors engineering program. Her current career aspiration is to work with uranium chemistry and safeguards inspection. 

 
AI and Nuclear Power Systems with Lefteri Tsoukalas

AI and Nuclear Power Systems with Lefteri Tsoukalas

August 27, 2020

In this episode highlighting Nuclear Engineering, we meet Professor Lefteri Tsoukalas, professor in Nuclear engineering and a renowned scholar on deep neural networks. He’ll be sharing insights on how artificial intelligence is being integrated into nuclear power systems and nuclear security.

Tsoukalas is recipient of the Humboldt Prize and an internationally renowned expert in signal processing algorithms applied to nuclear materials detection and non-proliferation, smart sensor development and advanced measurement techniques. He has extensive experience as a safeguards engineer and as a nuclear instrumentation and controls specialist and has served in several advisory and consulting positions for national and international regulatory agencies. He has more than 25 years of accumulated experience as project manager of competitively funded projects sponsored, among others, by NNSA, NRC, DOD, DOE and EPRI. His research covers both experimental and model development studies, signal processing techniques, including cutting edge multi-variant statistical methods, Gaussian processes for background estimation, wavelet analysis and Hilbert-Huang transforms.

This is one of four episodes featuring Purdue University's Nuclear Engineering. Listen to more about Nuclear Engineering and others engineering topics at the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Special thanks to Destiny White, our guest host for this podcast.  Destiny is a junior in nuclear engineering at Purdue University. Throughout her three years, she has participated in activities ranging from rowing to nuclear security research. She currently serves as the founder and president of Minorities in Nuclear Engineering and Sciences (MINES), the treasurer of Purdue’s American Nuclear Society chapter, and a teaching assistant for the honors engineering program. Her current career aspiration is to work with uranium chemistry and safeguards inspection. 

Versatile Test Reactor with Ran Kong

Versatile Test Reactor with Ran Kong

August 27, 2020

In this episode highlighting Nuclear Engineering, we meet Dr. Ran Kong, a post-doctoral research associate working with the head of the School of Nuclear Engineering, Dr. Seungjin Kim. He'll discuss his work with a Versatile Test Reactor and how it will contribute to the future of nuclear energy.

Dr. Kong’s original intention was to study coal power plants during his undergraduate studies in China, yet after taking an “intro to nuclear energy” course, he learned of the importance of carbon-free emissions to the planet’s future. The nuclear industry’s reliability, emphasis on safety, and sustainability drew Dr. Kong to study nuclear engineering as a way to steer the world away from the toxicity of carbon emitters.

Dr. Kong works in the Thermal-Hydraulics and Reactor Safety Laboratory (TRSL) at Purdue with the goal of design improvements for high-performing reactor systems. In the TRSL, Kong has the capability to study fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and safety in nuclear systems. His current focus is his work with the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), a Department of Energy-funded program intended to accelerate and improve generation IV reactor designs. Dr. Kong is collaborating with Argonne National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory to design the VTR’s sodium-cooled cartridge loop to assist the development of sodium fast reactors.

The VTR program contributes directly to the United States’ ability to maintain its leadership in advanced reactor technologies, which was threatened by the shutdown of the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) in the 1990s. The VTR re-establishes the testing capability, allowing for the continuous development of new materials and nuclear fuels for the next generation of reactors. The global market for nuclear power technology is estimated at $1 trillion, nuclear power generation is projected to grow 73% by 2040, and most of the existing reactors are on track to retire within the next few decades. Thus, the contributions of the VTR are crucial if the United States, and even the world, is to keep up with global energy demand in the future.

Read Dr. Kong's Medium article about the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR)

This is one of four episodes featuring Purdue University's Nuclear Engineering. Listen to more about Nuclear Engineering and other engineering topics at the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Special thanks to Destiny White, our guest host for this podcast.  Destiny is a junior in nuclear engineering at Purdue University. Throughout her three years, she has participated in activities ranging from rowing to nuclear security research. She currently serves as the founder and president of Minorities in Nuclear Engineering and Sciences (MINES), the treasurer of Purdue’s American Nuclear Society chapter, and a teaching assistant for the honors engineering program. Her current career aspiration is to work with uranium chemistry and safeguards inspection. 

PUR-1 Nuclear Reactor with Clive Townsend

PUR-1 Nuclear Reactor with Clive Townsend

August 27, 2020

Clive Townsend is the reactor supervisor for PUR-1, Purdue University’s Reactor 1, and is responsible for its safe operation, assuring that all operations are conducted in a safe manner and within the limits prescribed by the facility license.

In this episode, Townsend shares his experience in helping to manage Indiana's only nuclear reactor and the first nuclear reactor in the U.S. to have all digital instrumentation and controls.  We'll also learn what is unique about PUR-1 and how it is used for teaching, research, and outreach at Purdue.  

Learn more about Purdue University's Reactor 1 and view a photo gallery and video of PUR-1

This is one of four episodes featuring Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University. Listen to others from Nuclear Engineering and other Purdue Engineering podcast episodes

Rapid Response to Building Water Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic with EEE’s Caitlin Proctor and Andrew Whelton

Rapid Response to Building Water Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic with EEE’s Caitlin Proctor and Andrew Whelton

July 30, 2020

For July 2020, we are featuring research from across Environmental and Ecological Engineering (known as EEE at Purdue) in three episodes.  This second episode hosted by John Sutherland, the Fehsenfeld Family Head of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and features an interview with EEE's Caitlin Proctor and Andrew Whelton about their NSF Rapid Response grant to study the water systems in buildings that were closed or shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Caitlin Proctor is a Lillian Gilbreth postdoctoral fellow currently working with three advisors across four schools: Dr. John Howarter, Associate Professor of Materials Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Dr. Andrew Whelton, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering, and Dr. Paul Robinson, Professor of Biomedical Engineering. She came to Purdue University after completing her Ph.D. in Life Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology at Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland.

Andrew J Whelton, is an associate professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering and his team investigates and solves problems that affect our natural and built environments. His expertise focusses on environmental chemistry and engineering, disasters, polymer science and engineering, water quality, infrastructure, and public health.


For more information about Purdue's Plumbing Safety research visit:  plumbingsafety.org 

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For more podcasts, visit the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Industrial Sustainability with EEE’s Fu Zhao

Industrial Sustainability with EEE’s Fu Zhao

July 30, 2020

For July 2020, we are featuring research from across Environmental and Ecological Engineering (known as EEE at Purdue) in three episodes.  This third episode hosted by John Sutherland, the Fehsenfeld Family Head of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and features an interview with Professor Fu Zhao, an international leader in life cycle engineering, who also has a joint appointment in mechanical engineering.

 

Zhao discusses the environmental approach to industrial sustainability which explores the impact of processes and products on the environment across their life span. His research team in the Sustainable Engineering, Technology and Systems Lab studies a wide range of areas including 3D printer emissions, sustainable electronics, energy efficiency of digital manufacturing and rare earth elements.

 

For more podcasts, visit the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Urban Sustainability with EEE’s Hua Cai

Urban Sustainability with EEE’s Hua Cai

July 27, 2020

For July 2020, we are featuring research from across Environmental and Ecological Engineering (known as EEE at Purdue) in three episodes.  This first episode is hosted by John Sutherland, the Fehsenfeld Family Head of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and features an interview with Hua Cai, an assistant professor in Environmental and Ecological Engineering and in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue University.

 

Cai discusses urban sustainability and efforts being made to meet the demands of urban populations while trying to use resources wisely and efficiently. She also shares about her research related to the three revolutions happening in transportation:  electrification, shared mobility and autonomous driving. 

 

Cai's research team is called Urban Sustainability Modeling & Analysis Research Team (uSMART) and uses agent-based modeling, life cycle assessments, system dynamics, big data analytics, GIS and optimization tools to study the environmental implications of emerging technologies from the systems perspective. The team's research interests include energy-water nexus, emerging transportation systems, energy policy, and sustainable consumption.

 

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Industrial Engineering Frontiers for Future Work and Factories with IE’s Shimon Nof

Industrial Engineering Frontiers for Future Work and Factories with IE’s Shimon Nof

July 2, 2020

Our June 2020 episode features an interview with Shimon Nof, a professor of Industrial Engineering in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue University

Nof discusses the foundation of Industrial Engineering, Industry 4.0, emerging areas of research, and the role industrial engineers play in helping solve challenges from the pandemic we are facing with COVID-19.

He discovered industrial engineering in high school and it appealed to him more than other areas of engineering because of the human factors involved and how he could see himself contributing to society. Through his long career, his research has pioneered the development of knowledge-based computer-aided facility design and robotics control models. He has held visiting positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at universities in Chile, the European Union, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the UK.

Nof is also the Director of the PRISM Center, an NSF-industry supported center focused on Production, Robotics and Integration Software for Manufacturing & Management. His current research projects include cyber-supported integration and collaboration of distributed e-Work and robotics, as well as CCT (Collaborative Control Theory) with applications in industrial, management, transportation and agricultural systems.

Podcast Extras are available on the  Purdue Engineering podcast website

Advancing Sustainability Across Disciplines with ChE’s Agrawal

Advancing Sustainability Across Disciplines with ChE’s Agrawal

May 28, 2020

Our May 2020 episode features an interview with Rakesh Agrawal, PhD, the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering.

Agrawal discusses principal interests that have driven his research during the 15 years since he left the corporate world for academia.

From his first days on Purdue’s College of Engineering faculty, he has shown a zeal to contribute to energy sustainability for the future. This passion has taken him into multidisciplinary collaborations extending far beyond chemical engineering.

His pursuit of renewable energy has translated into enthusiasm for developing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells — through printing with light-sensitive ink composed of unique nanocrystals. Intensive work at the world-class laboratory of the Rakesh Agrawal Research Group has yielded cells with approximately 15 percent efficiency so far, and these efforts continue toward the goal of 20 percent efficiency.

As an offshoot of his work on capturing the sun’s energy, Agrawal more recently started researching technologies for growing food at the same time in the same spaces. This facilitates the human race’s shift from fossil energy to solar resources without disruptive competition for land. Agrawal’s team has built its first plant on agricultural land owned by Purdue, and data on combined food and solar-power production are being collected.

The combination of research on sustainable food, energy, and water systems is called SFEWS. Agrawal says he has found abundant support among faculty and administration at Purdue for this collaborative research involving broad areas of know-how in multiple types of engineering, agriculture, economics, business and more.

The interdisciplinarity of this SFEWS work — and the need to educate generations of engineering talent ready for such broad collaborations —have[1] helped Agrawal receive support from the National Science Foundation’s Research Traineeship (NRT) and Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) programs.

Agrawal and collaborators across Purdue have been developing multidisciplinary courses attracting diverse groups of students under NSF training grants for studies in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Those students have impressed Agrawal by forming cohesive groups. He says they want to shape a brighter future and cooperate with one another as they tackle their own specialized tasks.

The professor’s third principal area of research interest dates to his days as a chemical engineer in the corporate sector. He is pleased that his efforts to increase the energy efficiency of processes to separate products at petroleum and chemical plants have continued to yield exciting results.

See additional show notes on Purdue Engineering podcast website

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