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January 21, 2022

Professors share specialties at Momentum

By Olivia Spector | February 21, 2013

The Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal (HURJ) held Momentum: Ideas in Motion last night, which featured presentations by five faculty members on their research in the style of TED Talks.

“Momentum was founded to inspire more faculty-student interactions in an academic environment, and momentum is an intimate environment gives students the chance to see professors research first hand and learn more about different fields,” Co-President of HURJ  Maha Haqqani said.

The event featured presentations from Collin Broholm of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Walter Stephens of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, Jennifer Elisseeff of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Eric Sundquist of the Department of English and Richard Cone of the Department of Biophysics.

Professor Broholm, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, spoke about Collectivism in materials and beyond; his personal research focuses on condensed matter physics.  He emphasized the historical connection of physics, focusing on the Hall Effect.

In 1869, Hopkins graduate student Edwin Hall and Professor Henry A. Rowland were interested in electrons and materials.  They learned, in a time before much was known about quantum mechanics, that if you drive a current in a wire through a region where there’s a magnetic field there is a force acting on the wire.

Broholm explained that this discovery was very important because the behavior of current as it flows implies great importance about the current and the charge it carries.

“I’ve actually separated the north and south pole in these confides, and we’ve learned about the arrangement of these magnetic momentums. We believe that this is the first evidence for monopoles in quantum mechanics,” Broholm said, when speaking of his own research on magnetism.

Stephen’s topic was titled, “Ever wonder about the history of writing?” He outlined the two phases of the history of writing, explaining that since 1822 we have been in the scientific. Stephens’ interests, however, lie in the period prior to 1822, called the mythical phase.

He discussed how many of the myths told before 1822 about the history of writing came from religion, such as Moses and the Ten Commandments and the Egyptians.

Elisseef focused on how modern science and technology can transform humans, Humans 2.0. Her research focuses on how to harness stem cells and use them in adults by delivering and harnessing with a scaffold; just by using the physical scaffold cells undergo change.

She discussed the potential for her research to advance modern medicine because a scaffold can be used to promote cartilage development and help repair tissue that was destroyed. The former, for instance, could be used to cure a knee injury, which cannot be repaired on its own.  The latter could be used to help repair the tissue of, for example, a soldier injured in war.

Sundquist’s talk centered on the literature of the Holocaust. He addressed controversies of what constitutes such literature, questioning whether to include partially fictitious work.

Cone delved into the rise of the microbiome, describing it as the increasing awareness of the role that the protozoa play in creating what humans are.  He explained that all life has evolved from bacteria, and that 37 percent of our genes can be traced back to early bacteria.  He said there are many more bacterial cells in our bodies than human cells.

“Human health is dependent on bacteria in a way we are only beginning to understand,” Cone said.

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