UCSB Materials Scientists and Local Science Educators Share Research with Community in First Annual Event
BY LEAH KURITZKY AND CHELSEA CATANIA
The debut event, “Our Material World,” hosted by the UCSB Materials Research Laboratory was held at Santa Barbara’s New Vic Theater on September 10. The event featured four speakers covering topics in materials science from entrepreneurship to science education. The event was emceed by the Department Chair of Materials at UCSB, Professor Tresa Pollock, who introduced a broad definition of materials science as the science of what things are made of. This definition was explained by way of examples throughout the evening, with lectures on hair care products, food preservation, exploring materials in the junior high classroom, and hypersonic flight.
The evening’s keynote lecture was delivered by Professor Craig Hawker of UCSB. He described the materials science of hair damage after treatments like dying and bleaching, which break chemical bonds inside of the hair, compromising its texture and strength. Hawker and his former student, Dr. Eric Pressly, have formulated a hair care product, Olaplex, which can heal hair damage by restoring its chemical structure. Additionally, Hawker stressed the importance of using simple chemistry that works at room temperature in air or water, which is also critical in medical and biological materials research.
The role of materials science in mitigating world hunger was discussed by Dr. James Rogers, a UCSB alumnus and CEO of Apeel Sciences, a local Santa Barbara company founded in 2012. The company repurposes nonedible parts of produce (stems, leaves, etc.) to make an invisible, tasteless coating that protects produce from water loss and oxidation, leading to longer shelf life for fruits and vegetables.
The use of materials science as a vehicle for inspiring “the playfulness” of experimentation, observation, and measurement in the classroom was described through a collage of photos and examples by Ms. Marilyn Garza, an 8th grade science educator at the Santa Barbara Junior High School. She uses materials to elucidate topics ranging from optics to microfabrication.
The final lecture given by Dr. David Poerschke [http://davidpoerschke.com] of UCSB took the audience into the future of materials science and its marriage with engineering to develop supersonic and hypersonic vehicles. These vehicles must withstand extremely high temperatures, which degrade or deform most materials and demand high tech innovations from materials scientists and engineers.
Our Material World will be a recurring event, held annually.
For more information: www.mrl.ucsb.edu/OMW