Nieuwland Lecture Series


Lie Algebras, Vertex Operator Algebras, and Related Topics

A conference in honor of J. Lepowsky and R. Wilson

August 14-18, 2015
Hayes-Healy Center

For more information, including a list of invited speakers, registration, and the availability of travel support, visit the conference website. Priority in support will be given to graduate students, junior researchers, and underrepresented groups.

Kevin Struhl

David Wesley Gaiser Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Harvard Medical School

Kevin Struhl

"An epigenetic switch linking inflammation to cancer and the use of metformin as an anti-cancer drug"

April 20, 2015 — 4:30 p.m.
105 Jordan Hall of Science

Abstract: In an inducible model of breast cell transformation, a transient inflammatory signal can initiate an epigenetic switch from non-transformed to cancer cells.  This epigenetic switch is mediated by an inflammatory positive feedback loop involving the NF-kB and STAT3 transcription factors, Lin28B, IL6, microRNAs (Let-7, miR-181b, miR-21) and tumor suppressor genes (PTEN and CYLD).  The transformed cells contain a minority population of cancer stem cells (CSCs) that have an enhanced inflammatory loop that results in overproduction of IL6.  The CSCs and non-stem cancer cells within the transformed population are in a dynamic equilibrium that involves IL6 secretion and a transcriptional regulatory circuit that acts as a bistable switch and involves the miR-200 family, several other miRNAs, the Zeb repressors, the Klf4 activator, and polycomb complexes.  

The cancer stem cell hypothesis suggests that, unlike most cancer cells within a tumor, cancer stem cells resist chemotherapeutic drugs and can regenerate the various cell types in the tumor, thereby causing relapse of the disease.  Metformin, a standard drug for diabetes, inhibits cellular  transformation and selectively kills cancer stem cells. In mouse xenografts, the combination of metformin and standard chemotherapeutic agents
reduces tumor mass and effectively prevents relapse.  Metformin mediates anticancer effects by inhibiting the inflammatory pathway, possibly by blocking a signaling pathway the responds to metabolic conditions of high growth potential.

Biography: Kevin Struhl's research focuses on combining genetic, molecular, genomic, and evolutionary approaches to address fundamental questions about transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in yeast as well as elucidating the transcriptional regulatory circuits that mediate the process of cellular transformation and formation of cancer stem cells.

Nick Trefethen

Professor of Numerical Analysis
Mathematical Institute, Oxford University

Nick Trefethen, Niewuland Lecture Series speaker

"Discrete or Continuous?" (1.4MB PDF)

April 20, 2015 — 4:00 p.m.
101 Jordan Hall of Science

Abstract: As old as any issue in science and mathematics is the polarity between discrete and continuous.  The details change from century to century, but a synthesis still challenges us. This talk will comment on some of the long history and current state of interplay between these two ways of thinking.

Biography: Nick Trefethen is Professor of Numerical Analysis and head of the Numerical Analysis Group in the Mathematical Institute at Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.  He is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher, with about 100 journal publications in numerical analysis and applied mathematics, and has served as editor for many of the leading numerical analysis journals. He has lectured in about 20 countries and 30 American states, including invited lectures at both ICM and ICIAM congresses.

2nd Lake Michigan Workshop on Combinatorics and Graph Theory

March 7-8, 2015
127 Hayes-Healy Center

Mark Daniel Ward, Department of Statistics, Purdue University
"An Introduction to Analytic Combinatorics and Probability"

Dhruv Mubayi, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Methods in Extremal Set Theory"

There will be short talks by participants and a problem session. Additional information is available on the workshop website.

View the event flyer (692kb PDF).


Irish State of Mind

Mental Illness Awareness Week
October 5-11, 2014

Organized by the Notre Dame chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, events will be hosted each day to bring awareness and provide support for those affected by mental illness.

View the event poster (277 kb PDF).

Lewis Cantley

Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor and Director of the Cancer Center
Weill Cornell Medical College & New York Presbyterian Hospital

Lewis Cantley, Nieuwland Lecture

February 24: "Targeting PI(3)K for Cancer Treatment"
101 Jordan Hall of Science, 4:00 p.m.

February 25: "Cancer Metabolism"
283 Galvin Life Sciences Center

Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., is the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor and Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital.  Cantley obtained a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Cornell University in 1975.  Prior to taking the position at Weill Cornell, he taught and did research in biochemistry, physiology and cancer biology in Boston, most recently at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.  His laboratory discovered the PI 3-Kinase pathway that plays a critical role in insulin signaling and in cancers. 

Cantley was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001.  Among his other awards are the ASBMB Avanti Award for Lipid Research in 1998, the Heinrich Weiland Preis for Lipid Research in 2000, the Caledonian Prize from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2002, the 2005 Pezcoller Foundation–AACR International Award for Cancer Research, the 2009 Rolf Luft Award for Diabetes and Endocrinology Research from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, the 2011 Pasrow Prize for Cancer Research and the 2013 Breakthrough in Life Sciences Prize.

View the event poster.


Joe Gray

Gordon Moore Endowed Chair
Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Director, OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine
Associate Director for Translational Research, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
Oregon Health Sciences University

October 28: "A Systems Biology View of Breast Cancer"

October 29: "From Genome to Structure: Spatial Systems Biology of Cancer"

October 30: "Impact of Technology on Science"

127 Nieuwland Science Hall, 4:00 p.m.

View Prof. Gray's webpage

John Pijanowski

Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Wally Cordes Center for Teaching and Faculty Support Services
University of Arkansas

"The Moral Mind in Action: Research Ethics"

June 27, 2013 — 4:00 p.m.
322 Jordan Hall of Science

Prof. Pijanowski’s research focuses on how people translate moral thinking into moral action. He is currently leading a National Science Foundation-funded effort to develop ethics curriculum and teaching guides for future scientists across the United States.

While much of ethics training for scientists focuses on learning the rules of ethical research, there is little education on how to behave more ethically. Building moral habits is critical for realizing moral courage in moments of crisis. Even when thoughtful deliberation leads to a moral solution to the dilemma before them, people tend to be better at knowing what is right, than they are at doing what is right. Ethical dilemmas bring a wide range of social, cultural and cognitive obstacles to bear on a person’s value system, and it is in those times that their moral habits are most influential in revealing character. In this presentation, we will discuss the current state of ethics education for researchers, and the evolving science of moral education. Participants will learn about breaking down independent elements of how students might approach a moral problem, strategies for approaching difficult decisions, and the critical role of failure in developing more reliable moral habits.

David Milstein

Israel Matz Professorial Chair of Organic Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

David Milstein

April 29:"Discovery of Environmentally Benign Catalytic Reactions for Synthesis" (968 kb PDF)

April 30: "Metal-complex Chemistry and a New Approach Towards Water Splitting" (968 kb PDF)

May 1: "Pincer Complexes: Bond Activation, Catalysis and Unusual Structures"(968 kb PDF)

123 Nieuwland Science Hall, 4:00 p.m.

David Milstein received his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1976 with Prof. J. Blum. He carried out postdoctoral work at Colorado State University, where together with his advisor, John Stille, he discovered the Stille Reaction. In 1979 he joined the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware, where he became a group leader in the homogeneous catalysis area. In 1987 he accepted a professorial appointment at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where he was head of the Department of Organic Chemistry from 1996-2005. In 2000 he became head of the Kimmel Center for Molecular Design. He has been the Israel Matz Professor of Organic Chemistry since 1996.

His research interests focus on the development of fundamental organometallic chemistry, particularly the activation of strong bonds, and its application to the design and implementation of new environmentally benign processes catalyzed by transitionmetal complexes.

Milstein has received the Kolthoff Prize by Technion (2002), the Israel Chemical Society Prize (2006), the Miller Professorship, UC Berkeley (2006); the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry (2007); the RSC Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Award (2010); the Humboldt Senior Award (2011); and the Israel Prize (2012, Israel’s highest honor). He was elected to the German National Academy of Sciences-Leopoldina (2006) and to the Israel National Academy of Sciences and Humanities (2012).

George Crabtree

Director, Joint Center for Energy Storage Research
Argonne National Laboratory
University of Chicago

George Crabtree

"Beyond Lithium-Ion Batteries" (1.25MB PDF)

April 10, 2013 — 2:30 p.m.
202 Nieuwland Science Hall

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) develops concepts and technologies for portable electricity storage for transportation and stationary electric storage for the electricity grid. Electrified transportation replaces foreign oil with a host of domestic electricity sources such as gas, nuclear, wind and solar, and utility-scale electric storage enables the grid to bridge the peaks and valleys of variable wind and solar generation and of consumer demand. JCESR looks beyond Li-ion technology to new materials and phenomena to achieve the factor of five increases in performance needed to realize these transformational societal outcomes.

JCESR will leave three legacies: a library of fundamental scientific knowledge of materials and phenomena needed for next-generation batteries, demonstration of battery prototypes suitable for scale up to manufacturing for transportation and the grid, and a new end-to-end integrated operational paradigm for battery research and development spanning discovery research, design, and demonstration.

JCESR is a recently funded Department of Energy research center (battery hub) with a $125 million overall budget.



Kevin Lannon

Assistant Professor in Department of Physics at the University of Notre Dame


"The Higgs Boson: Beyond the Headlines" (1.09MB PDF)

Jordan Hall of Science, Room 105, 7:00 p.m.
September 6, 2012

On July 4, headlines around the world heralded a major breakthrough coming out of the CMS and ATLAS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at the CERN lab in Geneva, Switzerland. The search for the elusive Higgs boson—known as the God Particle in the popular media—had yielded the discovery of a new particle. Although the headlines clearly capture the importance of this discovery, looking deeper raises many questions:

  • What is the Higgs boson, and what role does it play in our understanding of the universe?
  • Does this discovery really bring to a close more than three decades of Higgs hunting, or does it point in the direction of something entirely new and perhaps unexpected?
  • Are there any hints about where science will be headed next?

Join us as we go beyond the headlines, taking a closer look at the Higgs discovery and also the various ways Notre Dame researchers have contributed to this effort.

Roderick J.A. Little, Ph.D.

Richard D. Remington Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics, Professor in the Department of Statistics and Research Professor in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Associate Director for Research & Methodology and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Census Bureau

"Much More Than Bean Counting: Why You Should Become a Statistician" (293kb PDF)

127 Hayes-Healy Center, 9:00 a.m.
April 18, 2012

Susan Hackwood

Executive Director of California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) and Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of California, Riverside. First woman dean of a major research university in the United States.

"Science, Values and Public Policy" (259kb PDF)

217 DeBartolo Hall, 9:00 a.m.
April 18, 2012

In this lecture, we will look at current and emerging issues using examples such as stem cell research, green cremation, cell phone use in prisons, smart meters, environmental and energy systems. We will also look at emerging technologies rapidly changing the world, for better or for worse. Policy in these areas will be needed and already pose difficulties to define, explain and even keep up, so asking an expert is not enough — clear communication, trust and accountability are paramount to science advising to policy makers and their staff.

Currently, Hackwood is a Fellow of the IEEE and the AAAS, holds seven patents and is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at UC Riverside. Her research interests  include science and technology policy, innovation mechanisms, distributed asynchronous and cellular robotic systems.

Fr. Jose G. Funes, S.J.

Director, Vatican Observatory

"Why Science and Faith Matter to Each Other"   (1.86MB PDF)

Carey Auditorium, Hesburgh Library, 7:00 p.m.
February 15, 2012

Born in Córdoba, Argentina, Fr. Funes joined the Jesuit order in 1985 and was ordained Catholic priest in 1995. In 2000, he became a staff astronomer of Vatican Observatory Research Group, and was appointed associate astronomer of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. In 2006, he was appointed director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Benedict XVI. He is a member ex-officio of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Fr. Funes specializes in extragalactic astronomy. His field of research includes the kinematics and dynamics of disk galaxies, the star formation in the local universe, and the relationship between gravitational interaction and galactic activity.


Richard Green

LBT Director

"The Large Binocular Telescope: A New Era in Astronomy and Engineering" (3.79MB PDF)

Carey Auditorium, Hesburgh Library, 7:00 p.m.
March 29, 2011

The Large Binocular Telescope is a marvel of precision engineering with massive scale. With its two 8.4 meter (27.6 foot) diameter primary mirrors on a common mount, it is the largest optical telescope in the world.

The primary mirrors are actively controlled at a slow rate to maintain their perfect figures, while the secondary mirrors change shape 1000 times a second to compensate for the blur of the atmosphere. The instrument
complement includes pairs of optimized 36 megapixel CCD cameras, high-throughput optical spectographs, and unique multi-object infrared spectographs.

Two additional instruments will combine the light coherently from the two sides to create images ten times sharper than those from Hubble Space Telescope. Scientific discovery has been underway since 2008 in fields ranging from stellar archeology in nearby galaxies to star formation in the distant universe. Notre Dame astronomers have played a leading role as scientific investigators with this unique facility.