Our Changing Great Lakes Coasts; Combatting Plastic Pollution; Ultrasound for Assessing Atherosclerosis; Lessons from the Nobel Peace Prize

Explore the Unknown!   
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For June 30, 2021          
Hi WN@TL Fans,
Oceans and seas have their ebbs and flows twice a day, and the low tide reveals a playground of rocks and pools that the high tide conceals.  At places like St. Malo in France or Joggins in Nova Scotia, the water levels swivel 30 or 40 feet.  On top of all that, people who live and build on the oceanside are smart to plan for even higher levels stoked by storms out at sea driving a surge of water onto the coast. 
The Great Lakes have twice-a-day tides but they’re tiny tides of perhaps two inches at most.  Yet on a longer time frame, over months and years, the lake levels swell and recede.  As they do, the speed and patterns of erosion of the shore—and of the deposition and sculpting of the lake bottoms—likewise shift and drift.  Harbors silt in or are inundated, channels meander, beaches and cliffs erode, buildings slide from the brink into the drink.  Figure in changes in rainfall, in duration of ice cover, and in intensity of storms all projected by climate-change models, and you can see why communities along the Great Lakes have some Promethean projects ahead of them as they shift between a rock and a wet place.   
Tonight Adam Bechle of Wisconsin Sea Grant will describe the drivers and impacts of the fluctuating water-levels of the Great Lakes.
Description:  “Adapting to a Changing Great Lakes Coast”   Great Lakes water levels have been well above average for several years, with some lakes setting all-time record highs. These high water conditions, in combination with coastal storms, have caused flooding and erosion throughout the region. Under a changing climate, lake levels may reach even higher highs as well as lower lows. This talk will discuss the current high water conditions on the Great Lakes and the actions communities are taking to adapt to a changing coast.
Bio:  Adam Bechle is a coastal engineering specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant. In this role Adam helps Great Lakes communities build resilience to coastal hazards by communicating the latest hazard research and data, developing education and outreach products on best management practices, and providing local governments guidance to identify opportunities to better plan and prepare for coastal hazards. Adam holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison.
On July 7 Reid Van Lehn of the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering will speak on “New Recycling Technologies to Combat Plastic Pollution.”
Description:  Plastics are ubiquitous in all facets of everyday life. Globally, over 400 million metric tons of plastic are produced per year; over 35 million tons of plastic are consumed in the United States alone. These numbers are projected to increase, contributing to numerous long-term environmental challenges. Of particular note is the growing accumulation of discarded plastic waste in landfills and the environment. Despite public support for plastic recycling, the plastics industry has struggled to make recycling commercially competitive. As a result, only 2% of waste plastics is converted back to their original starting material via closed-loop recycling, while over 70% is diverted to landfills or leaks into the environment. There is thus an urgent need for new, economically viable technologies to recycle – or upcycle – plastic waste.
In this presentation, I will introduce the Center for the Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics (CUWP), which was recently established at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with funding from the Department of Energy. CUWP is developing new technologies designed for the near-term recycling of waste plastics. We are working in close collaboration with a range of scientists and engineers across 7 different universities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as 8 companies that produce, recycle, or consume plastics. I will particularly focus on a technology that we call Solvent-Targeted Recovery and Precipitation (STRAP), which was recently developed as a method to recycle plastic packaging materials. STRAP has been shown to recover nearly 100% of the components from a high-volume commercial plastic film provided by our industrial partners and is less expensive than purchasing the original plastic material. I will conclude my talk by highlighting several other promising plastic recycling technologies being developed in academic and industrial laboratories around the world.
Bio:  Reid Van Lehn is the Conway Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT under the supervision of Prof. Alfredo Alexander-Katz, then performed research as a NIH Ruth-Kirschstein postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Tom F. Miller III at Caltech. He joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2016, where his group develops and applies molecular simulation methods to characterize, predict, and engineer the physicochemical properties of soft materials. He was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science list in 2016 and has recently been recognized with the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, the UW-Madison Vilas Associate award, and an NSF CAREER award.

Links:   https://www.facebook.com/cuwp.engineering/
On July 14 Catherine Steffel will share her insights into “Assessing Atherosclerosis with Ultrasound: A Quantitative Approach.”

Description:  Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death worldwide. Throughout my PhD, I worked to improve the ways that doctors can non-invasively and inexpensively see the atherosclerotic plaques that cause some of these strokes and other harmful health events. The ultimate goal of this research is to give clinicians an inside look at which plaques are vulnerable, which will help doctors identify people who are more likely to have a stroke years before an adverse health event occurs. During this talk, I will be discussing the results of the ultrasound imaging studies I performed during my time as a PhD student in the Department of Medical Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bio:  Dr. Catherine Steffel has spent her entire academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving her bachelor’s degree in physics in 2014, her Master’s degree in medical physics in 2017, and her PhD in medical physics in January 2021. In addition to receiving prestigious grants from the National Institutes of Health, she has accepted over 20 honors and awards for her research and other work. In spring 2021, Catherine was named a UW-Madison Notable Graduate for founding the Research Showcase at the Wisconsin State Capitol — during the annual showcase, graduate students and postdocs share their research with Wisconsin State legislators, staffers, and the public. Though she started working as a University Relations Specialist in the Department of Biochemistry earlier this month, her time as a graduate student in the Department of Medical Physics will always be near and dear to her heart. When she isn’t reading or writing, Catherine can be found going on walks around Madison, cooking, watching post-apocalyptic TV shows, or looking for new hobbies to pursue.


• WISL Award for Communicating PhD Research to the Public: http://scifun.org/Thesis_Awards/steffel.html 
• Medical Physics in General: https://w3.aapm.org/medical_physicist/index.php