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Upcoming Events

2020 SACNAS Midwest Regional Meeting

2020 SACNAS Midwest Regional Meeting Science and Equity: Allyship and Inclusion in STEM and Beyond

Virtual Meeting, October 2 – 4, 2020

Register here

This year’s theme is Science and Equity: Allyship and Inclusion in STEM and Beyond

In light of what is happening in the country and the re-emboldened social justice movement focusing on justice for Black lives, we are focusing the Regional Meeting on anti-racism in STEM and how to be better allies (as Latinx and Indigenous folks) to our Black colleagues.

The goal of our first day is to examine our identities and reflect on how intersectionality impacts our lives and the lives of others. Our first keynote talk by Raven Baxter MS, advocate for media representation in science as Raven the Science Maven and the founder of STEMbassy.  

On the second day we will be addressing problems facing Black communities and understanding how to build an equitable environment, both in STEM and outside the university. We hope to have talks on how stereotyping and discrimination impact both diversity in workplace and mass incarceration, and how to build equity through changes in policy and transformative justice.

The third and final day we will be talking about inclusive science research and communicating our science to the general public. Dr. Ashley Smart PhD, the associate director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and a senior editor at Undark magazine will close out the meeting with his keynote talk.

Negative Emissions Science

Scialog Conference 2020, Virtual Conference

November 5-8, 2020

Westward Look Resort, Tucson, Arizona


The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and in the oceans is a pressing challenge that requires rapid de-carbonization of the global economy. Negative emissions technologies, which remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans for the purposes of sequestration or potential utilization, most likely will be needed to augment other mitigation strategies. The underlying science needed to make negative emissions technologies globally scalable still requires major scientific breakthroughs. Such breakthroughs in Negative Emissions Science (NES) almost certainly will result from multidisciplinary input, including from chemistry, physics, materials science, biology, engineering, and geophysics. This Scialog will challenge early-career scientists in these and related fields to explore together how to advance fundamental science in the design of novel approaches for rapidly removing and utilizing or sequestering greenhouse gases.

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3rd Annual Water Conference

December 1 - 2, 2020, Virtual Conference

We are excited to announce the 3rd Annual Water Conference, taking place December 1-2

Do you have research to share? You can now submit your abstract and join us as we bring leaders and experts together from cutting edge fields to discuss topics such as:

  • PFAs in Water: Occurrences & Treatment
  • Food-Energy-Water Nexus
  • Big Data & AI for Operations and Cybersecurity
  • Climate Impacts on Water and Water Utilities
  • Emerging Treatment Technologies
  • Policy and Regulatory Impacts on Water Innovation
  • Alliance for Water Innovation
  • Modeling and Analysis Tools
  • De-centralized Water treatment: Challenges & Opportunities
  • Secondary Revenue Stream Opportunities

We look forward to you joining us at the 3rd Annual Water Conference!

AAAS 2021 Annual Meeting

February 8 - 11, 2021


To ensure the safety of program participants, volunteers, and AAAS staff, the 2021 Annual Meeting will convene entirely online.


Scientific session and career workshop formats have been modified to accommodate virtual viewing, and the following video provides an overview of those updates. The submission deadline continues to be July 14, 2020.


Meeting theme: Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems


Research topics which may be addressed include:

Toxins and pollution remediation

Artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, and human-machine interface applications

Modeling—traditional methods to quantum computing Weathering extreme climate and geological changes


Genetic engineering challenges

Social ecosystems

Systems of interaction and community-building both in-person and virtually

Invasive species



Past Events

April 24, 2020

Evanston, IL

This past January, Northwestern, Argonne, and the University of Illinois proposed an AI for Sustainability center planning grant to the National Science Foundation.  The proposal process created a series of ideas that we would like to pursue regardless of the proposal outcome. Central to those is to roadmap research needs in AI for Sustainability.

To this end, Bill Miller and Jennifer Dunn organized a half-day workshop on April 24 to begin the roadmapping process, and was co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience and the Northwestern-Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering. 

The workshop attracted over 60 participants and featured Simge  Küçükyavuz, Luís Amaral, and Aaron Packman as speakers in addition to Raj Sankaran and Prasanna Balaprakash of Argonne.  Matt Turk of the University of Illinois also contributed a talk.  Niraj Swami of The Nature Conservancy served as the keynote speaker.  The workshop resulted in a synthesis of research needs and questions in topic areas including data needs, advances in AI to advance sustainability research, integrating human-based domain expertise into AI approaches, building trust with stakeholders, and communicating results to policy makers.  We expect there will be follow on workshops to address several of these topics as CESR and NAISE collaborate towards developing a roadmap for AI for Sustainability.  A two-page summary of the workshop is in the CESR library.

Kate Marvel, NASA GISS & Columbia University

Earth and Planetary Sciences seminar speaker, March 6th, 2020

Understanding Climate Change Past, Present, and Future: New Methods for Signal Detection and Attribution

How is climate change affecting aspects of the Earth system beyond global average temperature? And what can we expect in the future? Currently, the detection of a human fingerprint on many variables is complicated by several factors: methodological uncertainties, large internal variability, errors in the computer models used to estimate natural climate variability and future climate trajectories, and fundamentally unresolved science questions.  In this talk, I’ll explain how new methods can help to identify clear signals amidst the noise.  I’ll begin in the past, using tree-ring reconstructions of last-millennium hydroclimate to show that humans were very likely influencing global drought risk as early as the first half of the twentieth century.  Moving to the present, I’ll show how improved fingerprinting techniques reveal a detectable human influence on global and regional precipitation patterns.  I’ll end with a cautionary tale for the future, showing that estimates of future warming or “equilibrium climate sensitivity” inferred from recent observations are likely biased low,  because the cloud changes we've experienced are not necessarily predictive or reflective of the cloud changes expected in the future.  This means that conclusions inferred from past and present data cannot be simply extended to the future, but this improved understanding can help to narrow uncertainties in future climate projections.  

Dr. Kate Marvel is an Associate Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University where she studies Earth’s climate system, forcings, and feedbacks. Her work is particularly adept at fingerprinting the causes of observed climatic change, and exploring the implications of these changes for the future. Kate is one of the world’s pre-eminent climate communicators – with regular pop-sci contributions to Scientific American, a much viewed and lauded TED main stage talk, and a massive social media following. She holds a B.A. in physics and astronomy from U.C. Berkeley  and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge where she was a Gates Scholar and member of Trinity College. Prior to joining NASA GISS, Kate was a Postdoctoral Science Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

 Please e-mail if you have any questions.

Dr. Wendy Shaw, Physical Sciences Division Director at PNNL

LEAP Center seminar speaker, March 5th, 2020

Using an Outer Coordination sphere with molecular catalysts to enhance small molecule conversions

Enzymes are capable of shuttling gases, protons and electrons with great speed and precision.  Enzymes are also capable of very specifically controlling the local environment around the catalytic active site.  Using the large range of functional groups available with the 20 naturally occurring amino acids, and the structural control of the protein architecture, precise placement of hydrophobic or hydrophilic groups is achieved which control the enzyme active site hydrophobicity, charge, steric accessibility and electronic character. Furthermore, enzymes are dynamic molecules that can control the desired environment by a subtle or significant change in structure.  The superior rates and specificity of enzymes as compared to homogeneous catalysts demonstrate that the outer coordination sphere is as essential as the active site for efficient function.

Our program focuses on trying to capture these desirable enzymatic traits in homogeneous catalysts.  Dynamics, active site environment and proton channels are the features of the OCS that are the focus of these studies.  We are developing redox active catalysts which oxidize and produce H2 and also thermal catalysts for CO2 reduction.  Our initial work in this area has focused on incorporating small peptides around the active site of functional molecular complexes to explore how the local environment can influence catalytic rates. Amino acids and peptides enhance activity, and importantly, provide a scaffold upon which a more complex outer coordination sphere can be designed and added. Our most current studies focus on creating artificial enzymes by immobilizing our complexes within a stable protein. We use a combination of computational and experimental approaches to understand the interactions controlling these complex systems. Combining these approaches allows us to explore and develop a mechanistic understanding of the role of the scaffold in both enzymes and molecular catalysts, allowing us to capture the essential features into homogeneous catalysts, with the potential of enhancing the rates, selectivity and specificity of the catalyst.

Chris Rahn, PhD , J. Lee Everett Professor and Associate Dean for Innovation, Penn State

Seminar speaker on March 2, 2020

Battery Systems Engineering Enabling Mobility and Grid Independence

Batteries enable mobile and un-plugged electronics with applications ranging from cell phones to solar homes. Batteries are being widely adopted to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of hybrid and electric vehicles, including electric aircraft. Cost and life of the energy storage system, however, are concerns that limit the desirability of battery powered devices. This seminar introduces the electrochemistry, dynamic modeling, and controls associated with the emerging field of battery systems engineering. The governing partial differential equations are derived, simplified, discretized, and reduced in order to develop efficient and accurate models that include important aging and thermal effects. Model-based state of charge and state of health algorithms are derived that predict the remaining charge and capacity evolution of a battery pack, respectively. Dynamic current limiters and thermal management algorithms are shown to maximize power and minimize degradation. New research directions in active safety and multifunctional battery systems are described.

Alaina Harkness, Executive Director of Current

Seminar speaker, December 20th, 2019

Alaina Harkness, the new Executive Director at Current, brings a background in economic development.  She was previously at the MacArthur Foundation, where she was involved in providing early financial support for the Array of Things project.  Alaina has been at Current since September 2019 and is still working to connect with potential partners.  Alaina would like to meet and develop collaborations with NU faculty doing research broadly related to water.  

SUSPIRE Workshop

SUSPIRE workshop was held July 16th and 17th, 2019, on Northwestern's Chicago campus.  This workshop was organized by Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago, Illinois CURES, and many other partners with support from the National Science Foundation.

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