March Franklinton Friday

March 17, 2019
Presenters talking to the audience

What In Incredible amout of "Energy" during our March Franklinton Friday!!

By: Maria Bergman, Student Assistant for the STEAM Factory

On March 8th, The STEAM Factory opened its doors for this month’s Energy-related Franklinton Friday. There were about 250 attendees here to join in on conversations, be curious, and have a fun evening in science. There was plenty of food set up, presenters had tables ready with information and activities for the public to explore new avenues of science. Leonard Sparks, the Chief Educator at COSI had a table set up with photovoltaic (solar) powered bugs which moved when exposed to different spectrums of light. Jordan Clark, an Assistant Professor in Civil, Environmental & Geodetic Engineering had a table detailing smart, healthy, energy-efficient homes, and the interaction between indoor air quality and energy consumption in the homes of the future. Katherine O’Brien from the Museum of Biological Diversity and the department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology had a table on Plants- nature’s powerhouse. Each micro-lecturer also had tables set up with interactive displays and details of their research.

The first micro-lecture was by Ruike Zhao, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her topic was on magnetic-actuated baby jellyfish made up of soft materials that moved by electrical currents in the water. Her work is to control magnetic fields to alter movement. Along with assistance from her grad students, she also had a table on the origami kite they designed to harvest wind energy.

Parker Evans was the next presenter, he is a Ph.D Candidate in Translational Plant Science. His research focuses on the languages of energy: translating electronic signals to biological messages. He studies the pathway movement that electrons take from mechanical towards biological sensors. His research is to discover how the electromagnetic force “yells” at biology with electrons for the advancement of biological research in both plants and humans.

Caitlin Rublee, an MD and MPH in the Department of Emergency Medicine had a table and presented on climate change and health. The environment impacts general health, so where you live matters. Caitlin told us about how the rising frequency and level of natural disasters such as air pollution, wildfires, and hurricanes are leading to increasing numbers of hospital visits. She told us a couple ideas she had to make hospitals more sustainable and lower their environmental impacts.

Katie Walton an Assistant Professor in Psychology presented on using participatory action research to find “energized” solutions to pressing health problems. Katie works to gain support and involvement in panels with people who are directly affected by the issue at hand, or their family members and friends. We care about things which we have experience with, and as such the best way to increase research involvement is to give people a voice at each stage of research. This will help reduce the disconnect between patients and providers.

The last presenter was Ashley Keesling, a graduate student in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology who told us about non-photosynthetic plants. Moreover, how they get their energy: spoiler- they steal it! These parasitic plants don’t discriminate of where the source of their energy. They receive their food upon fungi such as beech drops which are found on the roots of American Beech trees.

There was plenty of time throughout the evening to enjoy and explore the presenter’s activities and discussion tables, ask questions, play games, and create crafts. Make sure to mark your calendars for next month’s Franklinton Friday on April 12th for another enjoyable evening of entertainment and science!