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Well, imagine that: podcast highlights visions from Science 2034 Live

July 16, 2015
NIU mechanical engineering professor Federico Sciammarella was among the panelists at Science 2034 Live.

NIU mechanical engineering professor Federico Sciammarella (left)
was among the panelists at Science 2034 Live.

A podcast of the Science Coalition’s “Science 2034 Live,” which featured NIU mechanical engineering professor Federico Sciammarella on its panel of six visionary scientists, is now available.

Gathered June 24 in Washington, D.C., the federally funded researchers shared their prognostications of what science will make possible in the next 20 years as they discussed their own work and what they hope it will bring.

Meanwhile, members of the standing-room-only crowd walked away with the realization that “the future just might be amazing.”

“It was a great experience to be a part of such a distinguished group of researchers. It is clear that Congress recognizes the importance of basic research and its impact on the economy,” Sciammarella said.

“Science 2034 did a great job of orchestrating a consistent message with real programs like ours here at NIU that make a difference. We will continue to support advanced manufacturing to make the region stronger.”

Moderated by Adam Belmar, a former host of “Polioptics” on Sirius XM’s POTUS Channel, the discussion covered a broad range of topics, from the role that scientific collaboration and multidisciplinary, multi-investigator centers play in solving our biggest problems to what motivates these researchers to go to work each day, and from the importance of federal funding for scientific research to the transformative impact that disruptive technologies will have on society and the way of life for future generations.

Other researchers on the panel were Matthew Tirrell of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Lab; Angela Pannier of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Ken Hanson of Florida State University; Leen Kawas of M3 Biotechnology and Washington State University; and Justin Crepp of the University of Notre Dame.

Greetings from 2034 postcardSo, what are some of the “big things” coming in their fields in next 20 years?

  • Nanoparticles that that circulate in the bloodstream to detect dangerous atherosclerosis before it leads to heart attack and death, prolonging and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, as well as reducing medical costs;
  • Advanced 3-D manufacturing technologies that enable products to be better, stronger, lighter and faster, putting the United States back on the map for production of value-added products;
  • Oral DNA vaccines that are easy to store, transport and administer that will prevent millions of deaths each year across the globe and, in the case of a pandemic, the oral DNA technology enable a truly rapid response strategy to be developed;
  • Next-generation solar cells that are flexible, transparent, more efficient and less expensive, dramatically changing the way buildings are designed and energy is consumed;
  • A treatment for Alzheimer’s disease based on a new class of regenerative drugs that restore lost function and prevent further deterioration; and
  • Discovering life elsewhere in the universe.
Federico Sciammarella

Federico Sciammarella

The event even earned a shout-out from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who addressed a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space and Competitiveness.

“A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining some of our nation’s brightest minds at a panel discussion by the Science Coalition. We looked ahead to the year 2034 and imagined some of the exciting discoveries that could be possible based on federal investment into basic research,” Peters told the committee.

“One panelist was working to develop a new class of genitive drugs that would provide effective treatment for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Her work was supported by the NIH. Another was working to develop safer, quicker produce of vaccines and pill form, enabling us to keep pace with the multiplying infectious disease threats. Her work has been supported by both NASA and the NSF,” Peters added. “These examples are just the small part of the long history of critical federal government support for research and development.”