Army Research Laboratory scientist to kick off fall lecture series

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Penn State Lehigh Valley will host four diverse speakers on four separate occasions this fall as part of its annual Faculty Invitational Lecture Series. Topics include an overview of the Army Research Laboratory, the historic treatment of people with disabilities, gap junctions in cell membranes, and the effects of ambient air on in vitro fertilization. All events are free and open to the public.

The first lecture, presented by Christopher Wolfe, will be an “Overview of Applied Physics Research at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory” from 1-2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 in Room 302 at Penn State Lehigh Valley, located at 2809 Saucon Valley Road in Center Valley.

Wolfe is a research scientist at the Army Research Laboratory, which is the United States Army’s premier laboratory for basic and applied scientific research. The laboratory's main mission is to discover, innovate and transition science and technology to support our troops and ensure dominant land power. Wolfe’s presentation will focus on vehicle and personnel protection technologies and include such topics as electromagnetic armor, battlefield signature exploitation, and directed energy protection. In addition, Wolfe will bring a fully demilitarized RPG (a type of rocket-propelled anti-tank weapon) and a few interesting show-and-tell items for demonstration.

Born in Jackson, Michigan, and raised in Bangor, Wolfe graduated from Kutztown University in 2005. During his undergraduate study, he completed summer research at both Bucknell and Princeton Universities, and he was a 2005 recipient of the C.R. Chambliss Academic Achievement award. Wolfe earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Lehigh University in 2007 and 2010, respectively. While at Lehigh, he received the Mihoko Yoshida Research Initiation award and was a 2007 GAANN fellow. Following completion of his doctoral dissertation in atomic, molecular and optical physics titled “Collisional Transfer of Population and Orientation in NaK,” Wolfe began work at the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Initially a postdoctoral researcher, Wolfe became a civilian research physicist with the Army Research Laboratory in December 2013.

Other featured lectures in the series include:

James W. Conroy
Disabilities Rights: The New Jim Crow

12:15-1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6 in Room 302

Conroy will discuss the historic treatment of people with disabilities and the movement to gain respect and rightful roles for those with disabilities in society. Conroy’s work is centered on the tragedies and triumphs that unfolded at Pennsylvania's Pennhurst State School and Hospital. Landmark rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court set national precedents at Pennhurst, now regarded as the epicenter for the modern disability rights movement. A reminder of the dangers of classifying people as "the other," Pennhurst's closure in 1987 was a model for deinstitutionalization efforts across the world.

Matthias Falk
Gap Junctions: Biosynthesis, Structure and Function

1-2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 in Room 302

Falk’s presentation will give an overview of gap junction function and will clarify molecular and cellular signals that regulate channel assembly and degradation that he and his staff have discovered. Gap junctions are one of four principle types of cell-cell adhesions. They consist of large assemblies of channels that cross the plasma membranes of adjacent cells and allow cells to communicate directly with each other. Gap junction mediated cell-cell communication is crucial for multi-cellular organisms, regulating all aspects of cellular functions such as the regulation of heart beat, insulin secretion, and the contraction of the uterus during labor.

Kathryn Worrilow
Bench to Business to Bedside: The Identification of a Problem, the Absence of a Solution and the Innovation of a Product Towards Improved Patient Care — An Unexpected Journey for A Reproductive Physiologist!

12:15-1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3 in Room 302

Worrilow will focus on her 10-year study on ambient air and its effects on in vitro fertilization (IVF). Until recently, little information has been available about the environmental influence of ambient air within the IVF laboratory. Worrilow and her team found that a significant, yet delicate, balance exists between the changing organic chemistry of the laboratory’s ambient air and the effect it exerts on embryogenesis, implantation and conception. This led to the creation of a proprietary air purification system designed to protect the growth of the human embryo. Her unique path from reproductive physiology to business to patient care will be discussed.

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Dennille Schuler

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Last Updated September 09, 2015