Sponsored by
The Research Development Office and Hancher


Science is brewing at Hancher’s Stanley Café! Science on Tap is an informal forum for UI researchers to engage the campus and the local community in a discussion of science in a fun and inviting atmosphere, while recognizing the great research and scholarship taking place at Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)


Mark your calendars to attend Science on Tap in 2019-2020:

Location: Hancher's Stanley Café
Time: 5:30-6:30pm on the dates below

Spring 2020

February 20: The Scientific Concert: new music distilled from geology, physics, and chemistry

Speaker: Jean-Francois Charles (Assistant Professor, Music)
Description: Jean-François Charles presents how collaboration with musicians, scientists and technicians has been at the core of the creative process for the Scientific Concert, a show premiered on October 27, 2019. He will focus on the composition of Petrasonic, a sonata for double bass and percussion, which was created at the crossroads of music and geology. He will demonstrate new musical instruments made of stones, and detail some of the team work involved in the creative process.


CANCELLED March 26: Three Minute Thesis Showcase


Speakers: Christie Vogler (2019 Winner), Mackenzie Spicer (2019 Honorable Mention), Enrico Bruno (2019 Honorable Mention), and Mackenzie Spicer (2019 People's Choice)
Description: The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition challenges graduate students to communicate their research in three minutes or less in non-specialist language. Participants represent a diverse array of disciplines and areas of study, and reflect the passion and thirst for discovery common among all of Iowa's graduate students. This year's winners will join Science on Tap to showcase some of the diverse research being done on campus.


CANCELLED April 23: Iowa Watershed Approach

Speaker: Larry Weber (Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Description: In 2016, Iowa received a $96.9 million grant from the US Department of Housing and Development to fund its vision for a more resilient state: The Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA). The goals behind the IWA include reducing flood risk, improving water quality, increasing resilience, engaging stakeholders through outreach and education, improving quality of life and developing a replicable program. This is a ‘flood-first’ program that focuses on improving rural watershed resiliency through adoption of conservation practices targeting reduction in peak stream flow during heavy rainfall and improve water quality year-round.


Science on Tap Archives 2019-2020

Fall 2019

October 10: Hybrid Cochlear Implants: Improving Hearing in Noise and for Music

Speaker: Bruce Gantz (Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery)
Description: For more than 30 years, researchers in the Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center (ICICRC) at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine have been studying outcomes with cochlear implants.  The Iowa team has developed an advanced cochlear implant strategy called the hybrid cochlear implant. There are significant advantages of the hybrid system that incorporates both residual acoustic hearing with electrical processing (acoustic + electric, A+E).  Some of the advantages of A+E processing are improved hearing in noise and music.  Current research is focused on how people separate speech from noise, which is a major problem of the hearing impaired. We are studying central auditory processing to better understand how we separate speech and noise.  This presentation will provide an overview of hearing impairment, state of the art understanding of cochlear implant technology, and how we are improving the ability to understand speech in noise and music.

November 14: Robot Theater

Speaker: Denise Szecsei (Associate Professor of Instruction, Computer Science)
Description: Robots have integrated into our society, moving beyond manufacturing applications.  Robots can now be found working in hotels, hospitals, and schools.  They are learning to drive and deliver packages. Robots also appear in television shows, films, and plays.  Historically, when robot characters appeared in film or on stage, human actors played the roles.  Technological advances have made it possible for robots to perform character versions of themselves.  The University of Iowa’s Robot Theater Project (UIRTP) explores the impact of robot actors on theatrical performances, and also uses robot theater to advance STEM education.  For this presentation, NAO humanoid robots will perform a variety of skits and routines developed by UI students, and Denise Szecsei will discuss the development of the project.


Science on Tap Archives: 2018-2019

State Hygienic Laboratory: Diagnosis in Pathogenic and Chemical Exposure Identification (February 2019)

Speakers: Susie Dai (Environmental Health Director, State Hygienic Laboratory), Wade Aldous (Disease Control Director, State Hygienic Laboratory) 
Description: Television shows like CSI and Silent Witness have created an exaggerated, rapid-fire perception of laboratory science. In reality, identifying the source of harmful exposures involves a network of specialists, advanced analytical methodology, and time. It is critical to accurately characterize the source of exposure in order to reduce the prevalence of acute and chronic illness.  Using case studies of pathogenic and chemical exposures, Drs. Aldous and Dai will discuss how the State Hygienic Laboratory's diagnostic testing is the backbone of environmental and epidemiological investigations for infectious diseases, environmental and food contaminants, foodborne illness outbreaks, and chemicals and pathogens in acts of terrorism.


Three Minute Thesis Showcase (March 2019)

Speakers: Tianlu Zhang (2018 Winner), Muhammad Taifur Rahman (2018 Honorable Mention), Timothy Acri (2018 Honorable Mention), and Oronde Drakes (2018 Audience Choice)
Description: The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition challenged graduate students to communicate their research in three minutes or less in non-specialist language.  Participants represent a diverse array of disciplines and areas of study, and reflect the passion and thirst for discovery common among all of Iowa's graduate students.  This year's winners will join Science on Tap to showcase some of the diverse research being done on campus including second language acquisition, human toxicology, pharmaceutics and translational therapeutics, and geographical and sustainability sciences. 


Striving for Equity in Schools (April 2019)

Speakers:  Sarah Bruch (Assistant Professor, Sociology) and Kingsley Botchway (Chief Officer of Human Resources and Equity, Waterloo Community School District) 
Description: Achieving educational equity remains a fundamental challenge in education policy and practice.  This presentation will describe the work of the Equity Implemented Partnership which aims to improve the equitability of school experiences and outcomes for studies in the Iowa City Community School District by making data-informed decisions, drawing on research-based solutions, and using an inclusive decision-making process. 


Music Therapy: Helping Teens Cope after Surgery (September 2018)

Speakers: Mary Adamek (Clinical Professor, Music), Kirsten Nelson (Clinical Music Therapist, The Stead Family Children's Hospital), and Charmaine Kleiber (Associate Professor Emeritus, Nursing) 
Description: Music therapy is provided in many settings, with a variety of individuals, to improve quality of life. Music therapy can be used in medical settings to help patients reduce pain perception and anxiety. Pain and anxiety after a surgery can be difficult for anyone to deal with, but it can be especially difficult for adolescents (and their parents) who undergo painful orthopedic surgery. This presentation will describe an interdisciplinary research study to determine the effectiveness of specific music therapy interventions on adolescents’ pain and anxiety after spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis. Due to the outcomes of this study, music therapy is now becoming an important clinical intervention for post-operative pain at The UIHC Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Southwestern Archaeology at the University of Iowa (October 2018)

Speakers: Margaret Beck (Associate Professor, Anthropology) and Matt Hill (Associate Professor, Anthropology) 
Description: The US Southwest is a stunningly beautiful and diverse region, with dramatic variation in physical environments and human cultures that developed in place over thousands of years. Opus Cactus at Hancher illustrates the Sonoran Desert in the south; to the northeast, University of Iowa researchers have studied Puebloan communities. Archaeologist Margaret Beck will describe her research with Matt Hill into Puebloan life during the Spanish colonial era, including use of the adjacent Great Plains as a refuge.






War and Peace (?) in the Horn of Africa (November 2018)

Speaker: Ambassador Ronald McMullen (Ambassador in Residence, Department of Political Science)
Description: Ambassador McMullen was the US Ambassador to the State of Eritrea, which is part of the Horn of Africa, from 2007-2010. During this presentation, he will share his experiences and insights into the politics of the Horn of Africa that contribute to the dynamic nature of war and peace in the region.




Science On Tap Archives: 2017-2018

What Lurks at the Core of the Milky Way (October 2017)
Cornelia Lang, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy

The center of our own Milky Way Galaxy is vastly different than the place where the sun resides (the “solar neighborhood”). The physical conditions are significantly more extreme in the galactic center and detailed observations of our own nucleus provide us with a window into understanding other galaxies in our universe. Dr. Lang (from the Department of Physics & Astronomy) will describe her own multi-wavelength observations and research that are uncovering the astrophysics of this unusual environment.


Growing Local Food: Small-Scale Farming in a Big Farm State (November 2017)
Brandi Janssen, Clinical Assistant Professor, Occupational and Environmental Health

In Iowa, agriculture looms large.  The state is the number one producer of corn, soybeans, and hogs and, most years, eggs.  Iowa’s Big Ag reputation has put the state in the epicenter of some of the most hotly contested debates about farming and the future of food production.  But Iowa is also home to a robust network of smaller scale farms that supply ever-expanding statewide and regional food markets.  The rhetorical tendency to pit conventional and alternative agriculture against each other becomes complicated when those two systems co-exist in rural neighborhoods. This talk considers the ways that local and global food systems overlap in Iowa, and how their interactions can contribute to a healthier local food system. 


The History and Future of Automated Driving (December 2017)
Dan McGehee, Associate Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering

This talk will discuss the history of automation in vehicles. While the Google car steals many headlines, some parts of driving have been automated for decades. How these technologies have matured over the years paint an interesting story—one that the University of Iowa has been part of for 25 years.






Freshwater Mussels to the Rescue? (February 2018)
Craig Just, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

In Iowa’s 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 Iowa’s 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 Iowa’s nitrogen pollution dilemmas.


Metabolism: What it is and How to Keep that Youthful Bounce (March 2018)
Charles Brenner, Professor, Biochemistry

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. We’ll also address best practices in healthy aging and current hot topics in metabolism and aging research."


Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Robotics, and Jobs! (April 2018)
Karim Abdel-Malek, Professor, Biomedical 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.


Opioid Ideas Lab: Join the Conversation (May 2018)
Chris Buresh, Clinical Professor, Emergency Medicine

University of Iowa researchers, scholars, students, and community members are invited and encouraged to participate in an evening of brief presentations from campus researchers and small group discussions relating to the opioid crisis, how it affects you, and how we can work together to make a difference.