CSE Public Lecture

Curiosity Drives Progress Lecture Series: Sustainability and the Environment

New this year, the College of Science and Engineering is modifying its annual public lecture format and introducing the “Curiosity Drives Progress Lecture Series.” The series will focus on showcasing CSE's top faculty in short, TED-style lightning talks around key research areas. Our next lecture will spotlight faculty members presenting their research related to "Sustainability and the Environment."

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
6 p.m.—Doors open
6:30 p.m.—TED-style talks featuring faculty members
7:45 p.m.—Reception (light refreshments provided)
Coffman Memorial Union, Theater
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities campus


The lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served on the day of the event.

About the talks

“Stuck in the Muck: Our Household Chemical Footprint Revealed in Sediment Cores”
Presented by Bill Arnold, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Joseph T. and Rose S. Ling Professor, Associate Department Head, Depart of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering

While many studies on the presence and fate of household chemicals in the environment, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, have been performed over the past 15 years, these chemicals have been in use for decades. Sediment cores provide information about historical use and processing of these contaminants. Information about past use provides insight into potential long-term impacts on aquatic systems. Additionally, the patterns reveal how water treatment and consumer usage have changed over time and may provide guidelines for more sustainable chemical usage and design.


“An Ocean of Sustainable Carbon: A Future of Novel Materials from Biomass”
Presented by Paul Dauenhauer, Associate Professor, DuPont Young Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

The public’s growing interest in plastic waste in the ocean speaks to the broader issues related to the sourcing, recycling, and end-of-life options for everyday materials.  Carbon-based materials are integral to the modern, healthy lifestyle that includes wrap for protecting food, clothing to keep us warm and dry, and building materials and coatings for affordable, safe housing.  New materials produced from biomass provide breakthrough capabilities such as soaps that function in hard water, plastic containers that biodegrade and/or compost, or rubbers that stay rubbery in cold conditions.  Made from sugars obtained from corn or non-food lignocellulosic biomass such as trees and grasses, these new materials exhibit lower environmental impact and can be manufactured in the rural United States via new cost-competitive production technologies invented at the University of Minnesota.  


"Tribally Directed Collaborative Research on Wild Rice"
Crystal Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences

Wild rice (Ojibwe: manoomin, Dakota: psiη; Zizania palustris), Minnesota’s beloved state grain, is central to the culture and diet of many Native people throughout the Great Lakes region.  Sulfate entering our lakes and streams poses a major threat, but it is just one factor affecting the well-being of this sacred plant and its environment. Native people who have lived with manoomin / psiη / wild rice for generations understand this intimately, but Tribal views and resource rights have not been adequately incorporated into its preservation and management. My talk will describe a truly collaborative approach that prioritizes Tribal values and knowledge.  We are building trusting partnerships that enable us to discover together the complex interactions among hydrology, geochemistry, ecology, and humans that impact manoomin / psiη / wild rice waters.