Thursday, February 8, 2018

What do mussels, metabolism, and artificial intelligence have in common?


Science on Tap logo
They’re topics in a series of free talks scheduled for this semester’s edition of Science on Tap, lectures presented by the University of Iowa Research Development Office and Hancher. All the events take place on Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Hancher’s Stanley Café.


Attendees are invited to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a beverage while they hear about the latest scientific research in a casual and engaging setting.


The lineup includes:

  • Feb. 15: “Freshwater Mussels to the Rescue?” featuring Craig Just, assistant professor in the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. In Iowaʼs waterways, there are millions of freshwater mussels treating nitrogen pollution simply by “eating, peeing, pooping, and puking.” Science and engineering can characterize and quantify this underappreciated ecosystem service which is important to the current public dialogue on how best to clean up Iowaʼs surface waters. Since the waste products of freshwater mussel metabolism are food sources for bacteria in sediment, we must also understand how shifts in microbial ecology, ultimately induced by human activities, impact water quality. The exploration of these topics will help determine the relative benefit of restoring mussel habitat toward mitigating Iowaʼs nitrogen pollution dilemmas
  • March 29: “Metabolism-What it is and How to Keep that Youthful Bounce” featuring Charles Brenner, professor in the Carver College of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry. Metabolism is our bodyʼs operating system. Every idea and feeling we have, every move we make, and every aspect of our bodyʼs processing of food and resistance to stress and disease depends on metabolism. A substance called NAD is the central mediator of metabolism. NAD is required for our conversion of food to energy, our production of and response to hormones, and our ability to repair our DNA. Many stress and disease processes attack our NAD, thereby weakening our metabolism and our defenses. Furthermore, NAD declines in aging, which depresses our metabolism and the function of all of our organ systems. This talk will introduce metabolism to a lay audience with an emphasis on the central functions of NAD. Weʼll also address best practices in healthy aging and current hot topics in metabolism and aging research
  • April 19: “Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Robotics, and Jobs!” featuring Karim Abdel-Malek, professor of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Virtual Reality are expected to take over about 50% of all jobs in the near future. These technologies are finally maturing enough to be considered viable, disruptive, and real. Traditional, difficult and risky jobs will be replaced with robotic systems while active AI will take over many industries. This talk will present the state of affairs in the realm of these three technologies and will present current work at the University of Iowa in these areas. Dr. Malek will explore the benefits and risks associated with the advent of these technologies, will provide examples of where it has successfully been implemented, and will discuss how these technologies can be leveraged toward humanity’s benefit. The presentation will also focus on the Virtual Soldier Research program at the University of Iowa, a unique one of its kind human simulator called SANTOS®, developed at Iowa, and now helps the US Military design new equipment, test scenarios, and predicts injury. Santos® is a computer program developed over the past 12 years by a team of about 50 researchers. Santos® operates inside a computer and can check for all types of scenarios before the equipment or vehicle is built, thus reducing cost and time.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events.  If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Aaron Kline in advance at 319-335-4142.


The Research Development Office is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, which provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover