Oct. 20: Architecture of the Muskoloskeletal System @ Firefly Tavern

WHERE: at Firefly Tavern! Location: 1304 E Market St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
WHEN: 6-7 pm 
Talk with Dr. Silvia Blemker about the marvelous complexity of the human muskoskeletal system over delicious dinner and beverages at the wonderful CVille Restaraunt, Firefly! 
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Firefly Restaurant

Dr. Blemker, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at UVA, researches the principles of muscle design and the beautiful “tuning” of each muscle for precise control and motion. Dr. Blemker’s Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology Lab utilizes intricate computational models to describe the architecture of muscles. Come and learn about the physics of the musculoskeletal system and innovative computational and experimental methods in treating musculoskeletal impairments.
Dr. Blemker 
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology Lab

Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology Lab

PAST EVENT: Sept. 22, 2015
Dr. Peirce-Cottler will speak about the development, mechanisms, and applications of 3D bioprinting technologies in bioresearch and medicine. As the Principal Investigator, Dr. Peirce-Cottler is leading the 3D bioprinter project after having recently acquired two new state-of-the-art three-dimensional bioprinters. Her lab is training scientists and bioengineers to “print” tissues that could eventually be used to treat patients with illnesses and injuries ranging from burns to diabetes, and heart, liver and kidney failure. See the printer in action on the group’s Youtube channel!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c0uIU6b1yI&feature=youtu.beShe is also the Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Ophthalmology, and Plastic Surgery, and a member of the Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) and Associate Director of the Cardiovascular Training Grant (CVTG)WHEN: SEPT. 22, 2015 @ 5-6 pm
WHERE: OPENGROUNDS (on the Corner, across Boylan’s)
[Click here for Map]

Please sign up for the event (so we can be prepared :)) 
*we may offer pizza for free/cheap price


A lab specialist loads material into a bioprinter. (Photo: Sanjay Suchak)

A lab specialist loads material into a bioprinter.
(Photo: Sanjay Suchak)

The 3DDiscovery by RegenHu

The 3DDiscovery by RegenHu




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Thursday, February 26, 7:00 pm                                                                 OpenGrounds, 1400 University Avenue Charlottesville, VA 22908-0317                    opengrounds.virginia.edu

Join UVA’s computer engineer and graduate student, Philip Asare, in exploring how emerging health monitoring systems (like your phone!) have the potential to transform personal and professional health management.


“Emerging health monitoring systems have the potential to transform the way we do health management. They have been labeled with the buzzwords “connected health”, “wireless health”, “mobile Health (mHealth)”, “personal health”, and associated with other trends like “big data.” The promise is great. Mobile technologies provide otherwise-unobtainable information about people in their natural environments. On the research side this allows us to understand human function outside the typical clinical/lab environment.

On the practice side, this can make healthcare more proactive, help individuals participate in the management of their care while reducing the need for costly clinical visits in the traditional system.

This talk will look at both sides of the issue, the promise and the potential pitfalls of these technologies, and raise a number of questions related to both. 

Mr. Philip Asare, graduate student in computer engineering at U.Va


Tell your friends and RSVP for our Facebook event. 


Communicating Science: a Particle Physicist’s Endeavor

Posted on November 5, 2014 by 

Thursday, November 20, 5:30  pm                                                                 OpenGrounds, 1400 University Avenue Charlottesville, VA 22908-0317                    opengrounds.virginia.edu

Ajinkya Kamat, a Phphysics_cern_particle_physics__2560x1600_knowledgehi.com.D. candidate at U.Va. specializing in Particle Physics, will be discussing the necessity and means of science outreach to broad public audiences.
“Research in many fields of fundamental sciences, like particle physics, doesn’t bear a fruit for years or decades. They cannot show a product, a technology, financial or health benefits as a result of their research. Hence, the importance of their research is not easily appreciated, beyond the appreciation as an amusing topic of pop science.  As scientists, who feel such an excitement and motivation to work in these research areas, we should take initiative in communnamedunicating about our research and its importance to public audiences. To keep advancing the science and technology research, it is essential that new students, researchers join the research community. It is possible only if we reach out to public audiences, the kids and share with them our excitement about science. We need to convey to them what it is in the “bigger picture” that motivates us to pursue our research. “
Mr. Kamat recently won third prize in the 3MT “Three Minute Thesis” competition at U.Va and is heavily involved not only in his own research but in the sharing of the wonders of the science to a broad community.
Read more about his research: http://people.virginia.edu/~ask4db/ and his blog on interesting research in the scientific sphere:
Also see his article here on a science policy conference.

Big Data: Predictive Crime Panel


Word Cloud "Big Data"Dr. Matthew Gerber, a Research Assistant Professor in the department of Systems and Information Engineering at U.Va, led a discussion on using big data from Twitter to predict (and prevent) crime in cities like Chicago.

The goal of predictive analytics is to use historical data to forecast future outcomes. Weather forecasting is a classic predictive analytics task that, among other things, uses past measurements of temperature to forecast future temperature levels. More recently, police departments have been using past crime trends to forecast future crime trends.

iGEM Synthetic Biology Night: Implications for Modern Society Interdisciplinary Panel

WedNesday, September 24, 5:00 PM, OpenGrounds Studio

On September 24th, OpenGrounds held one of the first live panel collaborations between individuals representing biology, law, ethics, and the public in an exploration of synthetic biology and its implications for modern society. This event was part of the monthly Science Straight Up series, a “science cafe” event that brings science into public spaces in a relaxed and approachable manner.

Organized by U.Va’s undergraduate iGEM team (which competes annually in an international synthetic biology competition), the panel featured Dr. Keith Kozminksi, a molecular cell biologist; Margo Bagley, a professor of law; and Dr. John Arras, a professor of bioethics at U.Va.

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Read more about it here: https://opengroundsuva.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/opengrounds-hosts-igem-panel-collaboration/

Trusting your gut reaction: Host and Bacterial Recognition

Thursday, June 26, 7:30 PM, C’ville Coffee

Emily Billings photo

Image of Laura Gonyar at lab bench

Our bodies contain about 10X more bacterial cells than human cells, and we are in constant communication and interaction with these resident microbes. Our immune system must be able to distinguish self from non-self and friend from foe. Without this distinction, we run the risk of attacking ourselves or being susceptible to dangerous infections. Just as our immune systems have learned to identify harmful bacteria that have breached our defenses, invading bacteria have also learned to recognize desired locations within the human body and can modify the expression of traits essential for causing disease in their hosts. These traits that make certain bacterial species dangerous to us can be disadvantageous when outside the human body.  Consequently, many bacteria have evolved to only express these traits when inside the human body. Please join us for a discussion on the consequences of this dual recognition during infection.

With U.Va. graduate researchers Laura Gonyar and Emily Billings, U.Va. Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology

Two genders, one genome: The Biology of Sexual Conflict.


head shot of scientist Bob Cox

Sexual reproduction is an inherently cooperative venture, but it also sets the stage for intense evolutionary conflicts that arise because males and females share the same genome, but differ dramatically in their reproductive interests. Come celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday and Valentine’s Day with a conversation on Darwin’s theory of sexual selection through the modern lens of sexual conflict theory.

With Bob Cox, assistant professor in the U.Va. Department of Biology
Learn more about Bob Cox and his research

What the heck is a Higgs boson anyway?



Science Magazine called its discovery “the scientific breakthrough of the year,” but just what is a Higgs boson? Join us to learn about this mysterious elementary particle, why it’s such a big deal, and what it means for our understanding of how the universe works.

With Bob Hirosky, professor of Physics at U.Va.

Learn more about Bob Hirosky and his research

When Einstein Was Wrong


wolf160-1Talk with Stu Wolf, professor of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering about quantum information, the counter-intuitive aspects of quantum mechanics, and what all this means for the future of technology.

With Stuart Wolf, professor in the U.Va. Materials Science and Engineering and Physics departments and Director of the University of Virginia Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research (nanoSTAR ).
Learn more about Stuart Wolf and his research

Wild Weather


head shot of Jerry Stenger

Join scientist Jerry Stenger to  discuss some aspects of the severe weather we experience here.  Virginia is situated in the right part of the country to receive a wide variety of severe, unpredictable, and often deadly weather.  Moreover, in this area, the nearby mountains add their own complications to the story.

With Jerry Stenger, Director of the Virginia Climatology Office and research scientist in the U.Va. Department of Environmental Sciences
Learn more about the Office of Climatology

Tropical Forests and Climate Change


Headshot of Deborah Lawrence

How are tropical forests and climate change linked?  U.Va. Environmental Sciences professor Deborah Lawrence discusses the long history of forest clearing and how it has affected the earth’s atmosphere over the past 8,000 years.  Forests are important for taking up carbon, but growth and productivity limit how much they can hold.  Come learn about the science behind tropical forests, carbon, and our atmosphere, and why it matters.

With Deborah Lawrence, Professor, U.Va. Department of Environmental Sciences
Learn more about Professor Lawrence and her research

Nanotechnology: how small science will impact your life and the world around you


Head shot of Lisa Friedersdorf

What happens when we control and manipulate matter at the atomic or molecular level–on the order of a billionth of a meter? Scientists have discovered new carbon based nanomaterials with amazing properties, stronger and more conductive than anything previously known. Even common materials behave differently at this scale and can have entirely new properties. For example, at the nanoscale, gold can appear red! Come learn what is special about the nanoscale and how nanotechnology is changing electronics, alternative energy, medicine, and other applications.

Lisa Friedersdorf is the President and Owner of AdviSci, a consulting firm specializing in nanotechnology and materials science.  Currently, she serves as Senior Scientist and Senior Policy Analyst at the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office and is the Program Manager of the Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives.  She is a Visiting Scholar in the U.Va. Department of Materials Science and Engineering and faculty advisor to the Nano and Emerging Technologies (NExT) Club at U.Va.

Read more about about the National Nanotechnology Initiative

Enemies without, enemies within: vaccines and the microbial world


Three scientists looking at growth on a petri dish.
Ian Glomski, right, with members of his research team.

The immune system is an amazingly complex and effective adaptation that typically maintains health, but can sometimes run awry. It is a double-edged sword; without it we would be overrun with viruses, parasites, and bacteria, yet on rare occasions it can run amok and kill us. The objectives of the discussion will be to shed light on how the immune system protects us from infectious diseases, how some microbes manage to thwart it, and on occasion how the immune system can become a danger.

With Ian Glomski, Assistant Professor, U.Va. Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology
Read more about Professor Glomski and his research


Lighting the Future: Luminescence for Fun and Profit

Professor Jim Demas holding a vessel filled with blue-glowing solution
Self-portrait by Professor Jim Demas

Luminescence, or the emission of light, is all around us although in many cases we are unaware of it. We wear it, we watch it, we play with it. Our world would be a darker and much less interesting place without it. Much modern medical diagnostics and our understanding of biological systems is built on it, and without it the human genome project might never have been realized. U.Va. Chemistry professor Jim Demas will illuminate some aspects of this fascinating topic!

This month’s Science Straight Up is hosted in part by the U.Va. chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, a co-ed chemistry fraternity, in honor of National Chemistry Week.


How Secure Are Our Borders?

head shot of Sarah Kucenas

In our lives, borders exist everywhere around us and delineate important boundaries like those of countries. One important human behavior at these borders is that of immigration. Immigration not only adds to the heterogeneity of our communities, but also can be a way that new ideas and ways of living are introduced. Interestingly, these land borders aren’t the only ones that are essential to our every day life. In fact, there are borders within our own nervous systems that we’re just beginning to appreciate and we are finding these internal borders possess a very selective immigration policy that has implications in human development and disease.

With Sarah Kucenas, Assistant Professor of Biology at U.Va.
Learn more about Sarah and her research

Complex Molecules in the Universe



Chemistry is not confined to the earth, or even to the solar system.  Astronomers peering with increasingly powerful telescopes have found molecules in giant clouds of gas and dust among stars in many galaxies in the universe.  Most of these molecules are organic in nature, which means that they contain the element carbon and are often involved with living organisms, at least on earth.  So-called “interstellar clouds” are not only home to many molecules, they are the birthplaces of stars and planets, so that the molecules detected there may indeed eventually be present in the initial stages of planets such as our own.

With Eric Herbst, Commonwealth Professor, U.Va. Departments of Chemistry, Astronomy, and Physics

Learn more about Eric Herbst and his research

Darwin, death, and disease



Darwin was interested in almost everything in natural history except infectious disease. The subsequent neglect of evolution  by medical researchers, as well as societal fear of the “e-word”, continues to distort our effort to combat infectious disease.

With Janis Antonovics, Lewis and Clark Professor, U.Va Department of Biology

Learn more about Janis Antonovics and his research

Nutrition – An International Perspective


photo of scientist Bill Petri

Why does the nutritional state of the mother predestine her child to the same condition?  Why is it not possible to prevent or treat poor nutrition?  Why is nutrition the number one child health problem in the world?  There are no answers to these questions (!), but the journey to understanding will be the topic of Science Straight Up on March 13th.  Bill Petri, chief of infectious diseases and international health at UVA will relate his investigations on this topic, with a focus on malnutrition in infants in the Indian subcontinent.

Learn more about Bill Petri and his research

A special event in celebration of Humanities Week and in collaboration with the U.Va. Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures:

When Science and Culture Collide


Image of Nicola Bulled

Clashes between biomedicine and culture have been observed throughout history. In colonial Africa, people fled to escape sleeping sickness eradication teams rumored to be vampires for their standard diagnostic procedure of inserting needles into lymph nodes in the neck. In northern Nigeria, campaigns to eradicate polio were abandoned due to widespread concerns that the vaccine was a western plot aimed at sterilizing Muslim women and infecting children with HIV. In southern Africa, men resist medical male circumcision services for HIV prevention for reasons that include cultural traditions. In South Africa, protestors flung human feces at the international airport to voice their dissatisfaction with Gates Foundation’s eco-friendly toilets. In the US, parents have increasingly opted out of neonatal circumcision, childhood vaccination schedules, and the HPV vaccine for fear of potential side effects and insinuations of immorality. These acts of resistance reveal the constant power struggles that exist between the objective rationalization of science and the subjective experience of everyday life.

With Nicola Bulled, Water and Health in Limpopo Innovations Fellow, U.Va. Center for Global Health

Learn more about Nicola Bulled and her research