President's Colloquia

The spring 2019 colloquia are scheduled from 4-6 p.m. at Westwood, located at 500 McCormick Road, West Lafayette, IN 47906.

Upcoming Colloquia

Thursday, March 21, 2019

William C Oakes

“Community Engagement: Are We Really Making a Difference?”

William C. Oakes
150th Anniversary Professor
Professor of Engineering Education
Director, EPICS program

A hallmark of land-grant universities is engagement, and Purdue has been a leader in engagement through extension, industry and community partnerships. One of Purdue’s more visible programs in community-engaged learning is EPICS, which brings together students from across campus to develop designs that benefit local and global partners. This year, over 1,200 students have engaged with more than 57 different community organizations and partners on over 150 projects.

EPICS also has spread far beyond Purdue, to 53 others institutions globally and to over 100 high schools and middle schools in 17 states. William Oakes, director of EPICS, will share lessons learned for effective engagement to promote student learning and sustained impact in our communities. He also will share challenges past and current, balancing student learning, institutional structures and community impact. Oakes says he hopes to stimulate discussion about how Purdue, as a premier land-grant university, can do even more for our students and the world with the resources we already have.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Erica W. Carlson

“Fractal Views on Quantum Matter”

Erica W. Carlson
150th Anniversary Professor
Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Inside conventional materials like metals and semiconductors, electrons are evenly distributed — like liquid filling a container. But electrons inside many quantum materials act more like an exotic gumbo: nanoscale images show that the electrons form complex shapes with interesting textures on scales of multiple lengths.

Erica Carlson will discuss how understanding the formation of these patterns is vital to our understanding of electronic properties and to our eventual technological control of quantum matter. We have defined new paradigms for interpreting and understanding nanoscale electronic textures observed at the surface of these materials by employing theoretical tools from fractal mathematics and disordered statistical mechanics. This new conceptual framework has enabled the discovery of universal, fractal electronic textures across several types of quantum matter.

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Past Colloquia

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018

Vilas Pol

“The Quest for Safer Rechargeable Batteries”

Vilas Pol, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering

The ViPER (Vilas Pol Energy Research) laboratory focuses on the development of high-capacity electrode materials and their engineering for longer cycle life and improved safety. Considering the advantages and limitations of known synthesis techniques, a solventless, single-step processing technology has been developed to fabricate a variety of unique anode and cathode materials for Li-ion, Na-ion, K-ion and Li-S batteries.

Dr. Pol’s talk also will discuss how tailored spherical, solid, dense carbon-particle anodes could make Li-ion batteries safer by distributing current uniformly during charging, minimizing excess solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) formation and dendritic growth. He also will demonstrate ViPER’s recent efforts on structural, morphological, compositional and electrochemical properties of various fascinating electro-chemistries. Additionally, he will discuss ViPER’s determinations on the transformative science, engineering and technology.


Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018

Hong Wan

“Blockchain Basics: Myths and Opportunities”

Hong Wan, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering

A blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a dynamic list of records, secured against tampering and revision. The main hypothesis is that the blockchain establishes a system that creates distributed consensus in the digital online world. This provides a guarantee to participating entities that a digital event actually happened by creating an incorruptible record in a public ledger. It opens the door for developing an open and scalable digital economy from a centralized one.

Blockchain has caught most its attention from cryptocurrency — encrypted media for financial transactions. However, the technology goes far beyond this specific application. In her talk, Dr. Wan will give a brief introduction of the blockchain, how people misunderstand it, and the potential applications of the blockchain technology. She also will discuss the efforts in her lab to study and design blockchain systems. There will be time for questions and discussions.


Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018

David Whittinghill

“Virtual Reality’s Simulator Sickness Problem: Where We Are Today”

David Whittinghill, Associate Professor of Computer Graphics Technology and Computer and Information Technology

Simulator sickness is a phenomenon experienced in virtual reality applications that causes users to experience an intense sensation of vertigo and, in extreme cases, nausea. The simulator sickness problem is multidimensional and complex, having roots in technology, psychology and physiology. At present, a reliable, inexpensive and nonintrusive treatment has yet to be found. Despite the combined efforts of not only the research community but several of the largest technology companies in the world — who have a strong market incentive to be the first to market with a solution — a solution remains elusive.

In this talk, Dr. Whittinghill will discuss the science of simulator sickness in depth to help shed light on this stubborn usability problem. He will summarize and evaluate existing attempts to address the issue, as well as his own research, according to their respective strengths and weaknesses.


Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019

Randy W. Roberts

“Writing Lives”

Randy W. Roberts
150th Anniversary Professor
Distinguished Professor of History

Randy Roberts will discuss his career writing books about iconic Americans and events, ranging from heavyweight boxing champions Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Muhammad Ali, to basketball player Oscar Robertson, football coach Bear Bryant, baseball player Mickey Mantle, actor John Wayne, and the Alamo in myth and memory. The talk will address selecting a topic, developing an approach and the writing process. It is intended for anyone interested in sports, Hollywood, celebrity culture and reading biographies.

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If you have any questions, please contact Robin D. French at 765-494-9708 or


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