The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

The Millennium Cafe

Emma Van Burns and Spencer Szczesny (Penn State)

When: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:00am - January 16, 2018 - 11:00am
Where: 3rd Floor Commons at The Millennium Science Complex

“Beautiful Figures for Beautiful Data:  Please Don’t use Default Settings”

Emma Van Burns  |  Lear Group


Charts and graphs are crucial tools for communicating scientific data. Unfortunately, it's easy to make charts with awkward, confusing, or otherwise ineffective design choices.  In this talk, I’ll review simple design concepts that can make the difference between mediocrity and an effective, compelling, and inspiring visual aid.


“Breaking the Mechanobiology Barrier:  How Cells Respond to Mechanical Stimuli in the Native Tissue Environment”

Spencer Szczesny  |  Biomedical Engineering


Over the last decade there has been a growing interest in the importance of mechanical stimuli on cell behavior. Passive physical properties (i.e., alignment, stiffness) and actively applied mechanical stimuli (i.e., stretch, fluid shear stress) modulate fundamental aspects of cell function.  However, most mechanobiology studies investigate isolated cells on artificial substrates, which lack the complicated 3D structure and composition of the cellular “niche” found within the native tissue. Using tendons as a model system, I will discuss my efforts to measure tissue mechanics at the cellular length scale and understand the cell response to mechanical stimuli during tendon degeneration and development.  The goals of this work are to identify the causes of tendon pathology, discover novel therapeutic options, and direct the design of biomaterials that can recapitulate the behavior of native tissue.


The Millennium Café is held every Tuesday @ 10:00 in the 3rd floor Café Commons of the Millennium Science Complex.  Stop by for freshly brewed science & coffee.