UChicago experts to give TED-style talks on the latest breakthroughs in molecular science

What if we could cure cancer with a pill that tricks the immune system and prevents the disease from spreading? What if sensors could provide new data to help solve global concerns relating to energy, water and food? What if we could create entirely new generations of biomedical, electrical, information storage and mechanical devices that could transform entire industries and vastly improve our quality of life?


These questions and more will be answered by University of Chicago experts during “Future Science: Small Scale, Big Impact,” the next installment of the UChicago Discovery Series, a public speaker series that highlights the groundbreaking work of UChicago scientists, scholars and engineers.

The April 6 event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Performance Hall at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and is free and open to the public. Advanced registration is requested to help gauge attendance for the event.

The event speakers are all members of the UChicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering. They will give short talks, followed by questions from the audience, that will discuss how immuno-engineering might hold the key to curing cancer and other health threats; how global challenges in energy, water and agriculture can be tackled through new nanoscale-devices and sensors; and how cutting edge approaches to molecular engineering can lead to new generations of computing, electronics, biomedical and mechanical devices.

“The emphasis of the Institute for Molecular Engineering is on problem solving, as opposed to reinforcing traditional disciplines, and a breadth of vision that translates science into practical solutions for the benefit of society,” said Matthew Tirrell, Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering and deputy laboratory director for science at Argonne National Laboratory, who will moderate the discussion.

“The IME has the potential to have a huge impact,” said Tirrell. “For example, the possibility of new biological sensors based on quantum phenomena, the possibility of creating new materials based on the delicate understanding of molecules, and practical applications of immunology that could lead to new treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases like Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Together with partners at Argonne, IME scientists are tackling some of the world’s most intractable problems in human health, environment and energy, and their work promises to enhance society and redefine industries—from micro-electronics and computing to manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

Speakers will include David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor and deputy director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering; Supratik Guha, professor in Molecular Engineering and director of the Nanosciences and Technology Division at Argonne; Paul Nealey, the Dougan Professor in Molecular Engineering; and Melody Swartz, the William B. Ogden Professor in Molecular Engineering.

Doors open at 5:15 p.m. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Logan Center, at the corner of Drexel Avenue and 60th Street, and is free after 4 p.m. Café Logan will be open.

The event is supported by Argonne, the IME, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Office of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories.