Public invited to become fans of research at Blue-White Science Expo

The Penn State Blue-White Science Expo will be held from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, in the HUB. The expo is free to attend, and a complete schedule and registration form for tickets is available at Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Blue-White Weekend attendees and the general public are invited to the Penn State Blue-White Science Expo, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22, in the HUB. The expo offers the community a chance to show their support for research while learning about the newest work from 17 of Penn State’s research faculty.

A complete schedule and registration form for tickets is available at

The expo will give the local community, students and alumni the chance not only to get first-hand insights into the research being conducted at Penn State, but also to get an idea of how this research impacts their lives.

“Science has given us fantastic abilities to grow more food, cure more diseases, communicate more broadly, power more people,” said expo presenter Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State. “But in a noisy world, sometimes people don’t hear this clearly. Ultimately, people pay scientists to learn, and to make that knowledge useful, which surely includes communicating widely.”

Speakers include Huanyu Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Professor in Engineering, who was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” in January. Cheng will discuss a project currently under development: dissolvable “tattoo” medical sensors, which he hopes can be rolled out to healthcare industry at a low cost.

“I think it is important to disseminate my work with the public, and it is more important to obtain feedback and possible inspiration from the public so that I can work on important issues that are crucial to them as well,” Cheng said.

The expo will highlight speakers from a diverse array of disciplines, including art history, biology, earth sciences, sociology and acoustics. The talks are grouped into five themes that mirror the five thematic research priorities for 2016-2020: Transforming Education, Enhancing Health, Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources, Advancing the Arts and Humanities, and Driving Digital Innovation.

Among the speakers in the Arts and Humanities theme is Carla Mulford, professor of English, who said she loves researching a historical figure whose career has resonance with our lives today.

“People today know that Benjamin Franklin was an entrepreneur and philanthropist, but few have a rich sense of Franklin's humble beginnings, before he became a great political theorist, scientist and progressive social thinker. I think if more people would learn about how hard Franklin worked, they might believe it possible that, one day, they might make similar contributions to society,” Mulford said.

Three education-related presentations will discuss innovations in our understanding of scientific achievement gaps, as well as in conveying scientific knowledge. Expo audience members can choose to experience a data sonification and animation created by Mark Ballora, associate professor of music technology in the School of Music and School of Theatre.

"Traditionally, scientists study visualizations of data, which is informative up to a point,” he said. “By representing scientific data as musical sound as well as animations — that is, through sonification as well as through visualization — we open the door to new learning experiences and new insights. If a generation of students is raised to regard science as something that is listened to as well as looked at, we could have a broadened research climate a few decades from now.”

“As educators, we are training a new generation of researchers and citizens who will navigate ever-increasing technological challenges and opportunities,” noted Eric Ford, professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. "As scientists, we are motivated both by curiosity to expand the frontiers of knowledge and push the limits of technology."

Ford will discuss the science of astroinformatics as it relates to the search for Earth-sized planets. Ford said his work is exciting because by discovering rocky planets around other stars, "we are providing context for addressing fundamental questions about whether Earth and our solar system are common or extraordinary." 

The Blue-White Science Expo is hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Last Updated April 19, 2017