June 4-5, 2024 | 101 Davis Hall, UB North Campus | Buffalo, NY

About the Symposium

This annual symposium is held in honor of the late Erich Bloch, former director of the National Science Foundation and vice president of IBM who helped endow the Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI) at the University at Buffalo. The inaugural symposium in 2017 helped launch MDI, and since then has brought together academic, business, and community leaders with a focus on materials, technological innovation, and their impact on society.

Materials Innovation: From Molecules to Neighborhoods

This year's theme is Materials Innovation: From Molecules to Neighborhoods. The urgency in addressing grand challenges in energy, health, and the environment demands innovative solutions and adaptive strategies for a sustainable, resilient future. As we move close to surpassing critical thresholds, hastening a tipping point for planetary health, advances in materials science will play an important role in revitalizing and reinforcing planetary boundaries. However, materials innovation must take place in conjunction with advances across all aspects of human, technological, and physical systems for holistic and enduring impacts. 

This year’s symposium will delve into these interconnected issues, with speakers examining transformative approaches unfolding across diverse sectors. The common theme across these examples is the role of AI in driving these innovations. We will conclude the symposium by exploring AI’s potential to enable transformative solutions, and acknowledging both the unprecedented opportunities that it affords as well as its limitations.

Group of attendees from previous year's event standing outside.

Agenda

Tuesday, June 4 | 101 Davis Hall | North Campus

Time
Topic
Speaker(s)
8:00 a.m.  Registration
 
8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductions

From Molecules to Neighborhoods: Krishna Rajan; SUNY Distinguished Professor and Erich Bloch Chair, Department of Materials Design and Innovation; University at Buffalo

 

Symposium Opening Remarks: Robin Schulze; Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; University at Buffalo

9:00 - 9:40 a.m.
The Techniques of Sociotechnical Creativity
Thanassis Rikakis; Dean, Iovine & Young Academy; University of Southern California
  Session I: Benign by Design
Session Chair: Edward Snell; Director, NSF STC BioXFEL; Senior Scientist, CEO of Hauptman-Woodward Medical Institute; Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo
9:50 - 10:30 a.m.

The Law of Unintended Consequences, Public Health Dentistry, and Engineering
Marcello Araujo; Dean, School of Dental Medicine, University at Buffalo 
10:30 - 10:45 a.m.
----------Break----------
 
10:45 - 11:20 a.m. Apple Smarter Chemistry + PFAS Phaseout Commitment
Arthur Fong; Technical Leader, Environmental Technologies; Apple, Inc.
11:20 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Panel

Prathima Nalam (Panel Chair); Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

 

Ali McPherson; Director Investor Environmental Health Network; Clean Production Action

 

Seval Yildirim; Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, University at Buffalo

 

Eloise Bihar; Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. ----------Lunch----------
Boxed lunch will be provided
1:00 - 1:45 p.m. Panel Continued

Prathima Nalam (Panel Chair); Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

 

Ali McPherson; Director Investor Environmental Health Network; Clean Production Action

 

Seval Yildirim; Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, University at Buffalo

 

Eloise Bihar; Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

  Session II: Creating an Inclusive Knowledge Economy

Session Chair: Fei Yao; Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo
1:55 - 2:30p.m.
Emerging Technologies, Unbalanced Labor Market Power, and the Unpredictable Future of Work 
Joanne McLaughlin; Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University at Buffalo
2:30 - 3:50 p.m.

Panel

Erik Einarsson (Panel Chair); Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

 

K. Venkatesh Prasad; Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Center for Automotive Research

 

Kim Lloyd; Director of Special Projects; Fuzehub

 

Seval Yildirim; Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, University at Buffalo

 

Thanassis Rikakis; Dean, Iovine & Young Academy; University of Southern California

 

Scott Broderick; Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

3:50 - 4:10 p.m. ----------Break----------  
  Session III: Student Jamboree

Session Chair: Scott Broderick; Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

 

4:10 - 5 p.m. Student Presentations
Presentations by graduate students from the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Poster Session and Reception (Salvadore Lounge, Davis Hall)  

Wednesday, June 5 | 101 Davis Hall | North Campus

Time
Topic
Speaker(s)
8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Welcome
Kemper Lewis; Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University at Buffalo
  Session IV: Materials Driven Innovation

Session Chair: Quanxi Jia; SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

9:10 - 9:50 a.m. Data-Driven Innovation of Semiconductor Materials for Advanced Technology Nodes
Ajey Jacobs; Director, Advanced Electronics, Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California
9:50 - 10:30 a.m. The Electric Vehicle Transition: A Call to Materials Innovation
K. Venkatesh Prasad; Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Center for Automotive Research
10:30 - 10:45 a.m. ----------Break----------
 
10:45 - 12:00 p.m. Panel

Wei Chen (Panel Chair); Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

 

K.K. Sankaran; Washington University, St. Louis

 

Mark O’Neil; Founder and CEO, Innovation Impact Partners, Inc.

 

Dennis Elsenbeck; Head, Energy and Sustainability; Energy Consultant Services, Philips Lytle

 

Eric Osei-Agyemang; Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. ----------Lunch---------- Boxed lunch will be provided
  Session V: Small Data for Big Discoveries
Session Chair: Olga Wodo; Associate Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo
1:10 - 1:45 p.m. Adapting Chatgpt to Specialized Domains through Expert Fine Tuning and In-Context Learning 
Rohini Srihari; Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; University at Buffalo
1:45 - 2:20 p.m. AI, Science, and All That
Bruce Pitman; Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer; Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation; University at Buffalo
2:20 - 3:45 p.m. Panel

Kris Reyes (Panel Chair); Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, University at Buffalo

 

Christophe Nicolle; Professor, Computer Science and Reasoning Systems; University of Bourgogne, France

 

Frank Alexander; Director, AI Research and Strategic Development; Argonne National Laboratories

3:45 - 4:00 p.m. Concluding Comments
Krishna Rajan; SUNY Distinguished Professor and Erich Bloch Chair, Department of Materials Design and Innovation; University at Buffalo 

About Erich Bloch

photo of Erich Bloch.

Erich Bloch (January 9, 1925 – November 25, 2016) was a German-born American electrical engineer and administrator. He was involved with developing IBM’s first transistorized supercomputer, 7030 Stretch, and mainframe computer, System/360. He served as director of the National Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990.

Bloch, the son of a Jewish businessman and housewife, lost his parents in the Holocaust, survived the war in a refugee camp in Switzerland and immigrated in 1948 to the United States. He studied electrical engineering at ETH Zurich and received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Buffalo.

Bloch joined IBM after graduating in 1952. He was engineering manager of IBM’s STRETCH supercomputer system and director of several research sites during his career. In June 1984, Ronald Reagan nominated Bloch to succeed Edward Alan Knapp as director of the National Science Foundation. The same year, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. In 1985, Bloch was awarded one of the first National Medals of Technology and Innovation along with Bob O. Evans and Fred Brooks for their work on the IBM System/360.

After stepping down as director of the National Science Foundation, Bloch joined the Council on Competitiveness as its first distinguished fellow. The IEEE Computer Society awarded him the Computer Pioneer Award in 1993 for high speed computing. In 2002, the National Science Board honored Bloch with the Vannevar Bush Award. He was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2004 “for engineering management of the IBM Stretch supercomputer, and of the Solid Logic Technology used in the IBM System/360, which revolutionized the computer industry.”

In 2014, Bloch donated $1.5 million to the University at Buffalo to establish the Erich Bloch Endowed Chair for the new Department of Materials Design and Innovation.