Wash U Frontiers In Technology & Science

First Edition!

Saturday April 25, 2009


WU Frontiers is a series of 1-day conferences, consisting of talks by WU faculty that are targeted at non-specialists in the field, and accessible to researchers in Science, Engineering or Mathematics. Unlike most conferences, though, the object of these Frontiers talks is to introduce the audience to diverse areas of research, while focusing on unsolved problems and challenges. 

The speaker and the audience can both benefit from the interaction amongst different disciplines and from discussions with a variety of perspectives.  In this way, new connections throughout the WashU campus can be forged.  The focus will be on young and mid-career speakers with the goal of allowing researchers to meet one another in a setting that encourages open communication.


There will be six 25-minute talks, each followed by a 15-minute question & answer session.


Schedule         Registration           Speakers              Ground Rules


These conferences were inspired by the Kavli Frontiers of Science conferences, run in conjunction with the National Academy of Science.


Goals of Conference:     

1.      The audience will enjoy themselves.

2.     Talks will be informative.

3.     Discussion will be lively and interesting.

4.     Researchers on campus will meet one another in a forum that encourages dialogue.

5.     Serendipity will occur.


Location: 199, Cupples I            

Date:  Saturday April 25
Time:  9:40-4:10, followed by a reception in Room 200, Cupples I



9:40-10:10                        Assemble, Coffee

10:10-10:35  Talk 1           R. Pless                   10:35-10:50  Questions

10:50-11:15   Talk 2          C. Anderson            11:15-11:30   Questions

11:30-11:55                                  Coffee

11:55-12:20  Talk 3          L. Markson             12:20-12:35  Questions

12:35-1:40                        Lunch

1:40-2:05     Talk 4          K. Thoroughman     2:05-2:20     Questions

2:20-2:45       Talk 5          N. Saccone             2:45-3:00     Questions

3:00-3:30                                     Tea

3:30-3:55       Talk 6          R. Loomis                3:55-4:10     Questions

4:10–6:00                         Beer & Discussion




 All are welcome to attend, and registration is free. If you want to come, please email mccarthy@wustl.edu  by Thursday April 16th so that we know how many people to expect (and what quantity of refreshments to procure).



Sophia Hayes (hayes@wustl.edu) Dept. of Chemistry, Washington University

John E. McCarthy (mccarthy@wustl.edu) Dept. of Mathematics, Washington University





Carolyn Anderson, Radiology

Rich Loomis, Chemistry

Lori Markson, Psychology

Robert Pless, Computer Science

Nancy Lim Saccone, Genetics

Kurt Thoroughman, Biomedical Engineering



Ground Rules



Speakers’ Rules: 

Rather than a polished academic presentation, we are looking for a presentation at an introductory level, while illustrating some unsolved issues in your own research.  Instead of telling the audience what problems you have solved and what achievements have been made, the goal is to present challenging topics in your field (either short-term or long-term ones) that you are working on, and where you have encountered barriers.  Borrowing language from the Kavli Frontiers conferences, imagine you answer the following questions:


What are the major research problems and distinctive tools of your field?
What are the current limitations in advancing your field?
How might insight derived from other fields contribute to overcoming these limitations?



Audience Rules:

This conference is targeted at young faculty members (primarily at the Assistant and Associate Professor levels) to allow for “cross-fertilization” of research ideas amongst disciplines and researchers across the WashU campus. All attendees should participate actively in the discussion periods following talks, during which they learn from one another (in other words, from other scientists in different fields).  Furthermore, collaborative relationships can be effectively formed with researchers across campus in this manner.


Since young faculty are still at stages of their careers where they are being reviewed for promotion, it is vitally important that this conference be seen as an audience of peers—not of reviewers.  Aggressive challenges (or “grandstanding”) will be strongly discouraged.  Therefore, we will encourage a wholly open forum for discussion, without judgment or critical review.