University Communications Staff

Evan Lerner

Science News Officer

Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Computing, Engineering, Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response, Mathematics, Penn Science Café, Physics, Psychology, Science, Technology, Weiss Tech House


 By Madeleine Stone  @themadstoneNone of us would be alive if sperm cells didn’t know how to swim, or if the cilia in our lungs couldn’t prevent fluid buildup. But we know very little about the dynamics of so-called “living fluids,” those containing cells, microorganisms or other biological structures.
Each of the six departments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science features a senior design class, where students team up to put their skills to the test, picking a real-world problem and solving it with a new piece of technology.
Motor oil contains chemical additives that extend how long engines can run without failing, but despite decades of widespread use, how such additives actually work has remained a mystery. Engineers from the lab of Robert Carpick, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, have teamed up with researchers at ExxonMobil to tackle this question.
The pistons in your car engine rub up against their cylinder walls thousands of times a minute; without lubrication in the form of motor oil, they and other parts of the engine would quickly wear away, causing engine failure.
Commonplace as they are, windows are an important piece of technology. Beyond architectural aesthetics, a building’s ecological footprint depends heavily on how its internal light and heat are managed. With this in mind, researchers from around the world are trying to make windows “smarter” by tailoring their properties to be more responsive and finely tuned to changing needs.
The field of metamaterials is all about making structures that have physical properties that aren’t found in nature. Predicting what kinds of structures would have those traits is one challenge; physically fabricating them is quite another, as they often require precise arrangement of constituent materials on the smallest scales.
When it comes to understanding speech, the world’s top tech companies are still playing catch-up with children. 
Three University of Pennsylvania faculty members are among this year’s Sloan Research Fellowship recipients.
Last week, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif., Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson participated in a panel titled, “Scientists Communicating Challenging Issues.” There, she gave advice for breaking the deadlock around scientific issues, such as global climate change.
By Madeleine Stone  @themadstone Collaboration across scientific disciplines can lead to groundbreaking innovation. But, just as it takes a special type of scholar to cross academic boundaries, it takes a special type of building to make interdisciplinary alliances possible.