The NESM 2015 Fall meeting was held on October 8th at Saint-Gobain’s Northboro Research and Development Center. Saint-Gobain personnel provided a fascinating tour of the 350-year-old company’s facility, which develops and tests new high-performance building materials for sustainable environments.
After a wonderful introduction to the history of Saint-Gobain, NESM President Jennifer Ross announced the Fall Symposium at the Whitehead Institute on December 3rd, and encouraged abstract submissions for 6-minute “lightning talks”. She also reminded the audience that nominations are open for several positions on the NESM board.
The first presentation was “Active Contraction of Microtubule Networks” by Peter Foster, a graduate student with Dan Needleman in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Peter addressed how collective behaviors of cytoskeletal polymers can lead to interactions over length scales many times the sizes of the polymers themselves. He showed how imaging complex mixtures of microtubules and their associated proteins in frog egg extracts reveal unexpected time-dependent spontaneous contraction.
Next Kathy Aidala, Associate Professor of Physics at Mount Holyoke College, discussed the various ways her lab utilizes Atomic Force Microscopy to learn about the magnetic and conductive properties of semiconductors and quantum dots as well as the viscoelastic and poroelastic properties of biofilms grown on AFM tips. Dr. Aidala also stressed that having complete control over the code that controls her instrument has been a major factor in the versatility of her instrument and in her ability to address a variety of scientific questions.
Thank you to Saint Gobain for hosting the meeting!