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Grit-X Talks

Watch it live starting at 10 a.m. EST on Saturday, October 14!

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Back by popular demand from our 50th Anniversary weekend, it’s Grit-X! Head to UMBC’s Black Box Theatre on Saturday, October 14, from 10 a.m. to noon, and be enlightened by some of the most intriguing alumni and faculty minds.

The full lineup of time slots, speakers, and topics is as follows:

SESSION 1: 10 — 10:30 a.m.

Welcome: Karl V. Steiner, Vice President for Research

Moderator: William LaCourse, Dean, College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, Chemical Engineering — Associate Professor, Duke School of Medicine

Next Generation Psychiatric Diagnostics and Therapeutics
Scientists at the cutting edge of neurobiology are beginning to unravel the causes of mental illness by studying the patterns of electrical activity within the brain. Kafui Dzirasa is one of these pioneers; he has a particular focus on building a “pacemaker for the brain” to treat diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Dzirasa’s work draws on new technologies that allow researchers to regulate brain activity and observe the consequences, in hopes of revealing the electrical pathways that underlie complex social behaviors.

Christine Mallinson — Professor, Language, Literacy, and Culture

The Social Life of Speech
Language is one of our most basic human characteristics—using language is something we all do, all the time, every day. But there isn’t just one linguistic code that we use. Rather, language is a nuanced, complex social tool, naturally evolving over time and changing for different circumstances. Research on the English language examines how various segments of society use words, usages, and pronunciations in ways that reflect the cultures and identities of their speakers. In Baltimore, the language we hear tells us about our history as a city and reflects the diversity of the people who live here.

Nilanjan Banerjee — Associate Professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

When What You Wear Understands You
How can cutting-edge research on textile sensors and wearable radar sensors help us recognize gestures, monitor sleep fragmentation, and diagnose sleep disorders? The Banerjee lab has developed and applied sensors to users with upper extremity mobility impairments, adults suffering from insomnia and restless leg syndrome, and kids with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, with the intent to begin answering that question.


SESSION 2: 10:45 — 11:15 a.m.

Moderator: Scott Casper, Dean, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Sean Pang ’09, English, and M.A. ’11, Teaching — English Teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools

The Fortune of Misfortunes: Finding Passion and What to Do With It
It has been said that the purpose of education is to find your passion. But how? More importantly, what do you do once you’ve found it? Sean Pang, the Washington Post’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, will focus on the lengthy journey of finding his passion despite the obstacles he faced, including financial challenges at home, recent health problems, and discrimination based on his Asian heritage and immigrant status. Peng will instill in the audience the importance of not only having hope, but also spreading it so others can find the silver lining in even their darkest times.

Gymama Slaughter — Associate Professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

The Art of Powering Implantable Electronics
The number of smart implantable devices is on the rise, especially as we approach the ramping up of the “internet of things.” A key challenge for implantable electronic devices has been keeping these devices properly and conveniently powered. Current battery technologies are sealed within these devices, thereby forcing the surgical replacement of the device once the battery is depleted. We need an inconspicuous means of powering implantable electronics with imperceptible methods that moves us toward new innovative solutions to the power challenge in implantable devices. A lightweight bio-solution that leverages the biochemical energy from human biological fluids is a step forward for powering these smart implantable technologies.

Kate Brown — Professor, History

The Great Chernobyl Mystery: How Ignorance Became Policy and Politics
U.N. websites say that 33 people died from the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe and 6,000 children got cancer. Is that the extent of the damage? Working through newly disclosed Soviet health archives, historian Kate Brown discovered that Soviet doctors reported a public health disaster in the Chernobyl-contaminated territories in the late 1980s. What happened to that story? Brown explores international archives to show how that news of radiation-related health problems disappeared from the scientific consensus.


SESSION 3: 11:30 a.m. — 12 p.m.

Moderator: Keith J. Bowman, Dean, College of Engineering and Information Technology

Corey Fleischer ’08, Mechanical Engineering — Co-Founder and General Manager, The Foundery

Building Founders the Old Fashioned Way
Makerspaces are the newest tool fueling the next generation of entrepreneurs and product developers. The makerspace community provides opportunities to grow synergies among engineers, software developers and artists, leveraging their varied skill sets as they work alongside each other. Inside, product developers can operate advanced computer-controlled tools to create industrial grade prototypes without waiting on turn-around from outside suppliers. Iterative design cycles are reduced from months to hours, so inventors can quickly reach viable solutions.

T. Jane Turner — Professor, Physics & Director, Center for Space Science and Technology

Here Be Dragons: Investigating Black Holes in Galaxy Nuclei
Astronomers have discovered that every galaxy has a huge black hole at its core, millions to billions of times the mass of our Sun. In most galaxies, these black holes are only revealed by their gravitational influence. However, in a few percent of galaxies gas and dust are actively falling on to the central black hole, resulting in large amounts of radiation being produced from close to the event horizon. Turner will discuss what we can learn by studying these exotic systems.

Doug Hamby — Associate Professor, Dance & Director, Linehan Artist Scholars Program

Making Dance: Let the Body Show the Way
How does a dance take shape? Often it begins with dancers experimenting with simple gestures of the arms and body, followed by the choreographer sculpting the dancers’ creative experiments in space and time. Choreographer Doug Hamby will demonstrate the process of creating a new dance work with a group of three dancers, with the goal of building a short dance of dynamic interaction and complexity right before the audience’s eyes.

Register today!