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May 10th, 2012

Brown University posts videos from Materials Genome Town Meeting

Published on May 10th, 2012 | By: Eileen De Guire

The theme of the second session of the Brown University town meeting on the Materials Genome Initiative was “Materials for energy storage.” The speaker from industry was A123’s principal scientist, Antoni Gozdz, and MIT’s Gerbrand Ceder presented an academic perspective. Ceder was the first to coin the term “materials genome.” Yue Qi, research scientist from General Motors moderated the session. Credit: Brown University; YouTube.

At the end of March, Brown University held a town meeting, which they called “Industry/University Collaborations and the Materials Genome Initiative.” Just this week they uploaded videos of the sessions, which are linked below. The videos are in the range of 30-75 minutes.

The March 29 event was comprised of a plenary address, five topical sessions and a closing panel discussion. Each topical session featured a speaker from industry and one from academia. Each session also had a discussion leader, so presumably, this was intended to be an open conversation about the challenges and progress-to-date on genomic approaches to materials development.

In the opening remarks, Clyde Briant, vice president of research at Brown, says the idea for the conference grew out of a conversation he had with Cyrus Wadia last fall. Brown’s dean of the school of engineering, Larry Larson, succinctly put the MGI into context, saying, “Materials are at the heart of the modern industrial economy.”

Larson shared that meeting the speakers and talking with them, left him “struck by the real breadth of intellectual disciplines that forms the core of materials science,” and specifically mentioned chemistry, physics, energy storage and metallurgy. The five topical sessions reflected the diversity of disciplines that the MGI seeks to corral and the applications that will benefit. They were (with links to video):

Data management and distribution
Materials for energy storage
Materials design for aerospace applications
Materials design for biomedical applications
Materials design for automotive applications

The theme of the panel discussion was “Program Agency Visions for the MGI” and was led by Cyrus Wadia from the White House’s OSTP. Panelists included Julie Christodoulou from the Office of Naval Research and Martin Dunn from the National Science Foundation.

Christodoulou was recently appointed a co-deputy chair of the interagency subcommittee, the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee for the Materials Genome Initiative by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. According to an ONR press release, the other co-deputy chairs are Charles Ward from the Air Force Research Laboratory and Ian Robertson of the National Science Foundation. Wadia is the subcommittee’s chairman.

About half of the speakers gave Brown their slide decks, and they can be viewed through links here. I took a peek at Gerbrand Ceder‘s presentation (pdf), and it provides a good overview of a genome approach to materials development and what the goals and capabilities of the approach are (or just watch the video above). Halfway through he leads his audience through the example of finding new cathode materials for Li-ion batteries, which he cleverly introduces as “Volta meets Schrödinger: Li-ion Batteries.”


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