Beckman Institute Open House 2013

Photo of a group of visitors to the Beckman Institute Open House

The Beckman Institute Open House is a biennial event, held in conjunction with the University of Illinois College of Engineering Open House. Our open house exhibits highlight the work taking place at one of the nation’s leading centers for interdisciplinary research. Schools, clubs, and other large groups are welcome.

WHERE: Beckman Institute, 405 North Mathews Avenue, Urbana, Illinois. The Beckman Institute is located on the University of Illinois campus at the intersection of Mathews and University Avenue. Metered parking is available in the parking deck across from the Institute on Mathews and Goodwin.

WHEN: Friday, March 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Watch our video Screenshot taken of this video

Atrium and 1st Floor Exhibits

A 3D Journey through Molecules of Life

Come and have a very close look at what living matter is made of, one atom at a time, in humans or plants or bacteria or viruses. A virtual 3D-journey about how life happens up close -- very close!

Attention in Real-World Tasks

This poster will describe some of the research conducted by the Lifelong Brain and Cognition Lab at the Beckman Institute's Illinois Simulator Lab, including driving and street crossing simulator studies.

Behavior Genetics and Drug Addiction

Try on goggles that simulate intoxication with alcohol and try to shoot baskets to illustrate the impairment. The exhibit will also have items on display that explain how we measure drug reward in animals.

Bathroom of the Future

Market studies have shown that the bathroom of the future will be socially connected, roomier, highly flexible, and attuned to your personal needs. Our team, consisting of industrial designers, bioengineers, and one mechanical engineer, is working to make the bathroom of the future a reality.

Chemical Imaging and Structures

Have your photo taken with an infrared camera.

A computer game approach for understanding speech in conversations

As participants play Minecraft and solve puzzles, we can observe their conversations. Our exhibit will include a demonstration of the game and discussion of what the results tell us about how people communicate information in conversations. One of the questions we are interested in is how people convey information when talking by emphasizing different words. For example, someone might say "Give me the RED one," and emphasize the word RED to contrast it with a different color. How does the talker indicate this in the way they pronounce the word RED?

The Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory

Established in 2011, the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory is the first center of its kind to investigate how nutrition affects learning and memory. Visit our booth and learn how scientists tackle questions about how food affects our brain.

Come see what computers can see

Come and visit our laboratory to see how our researchers provide computers with the ability to analyze and manipulate images and videos. Have a computer find your face. Check out examples of optical illusions, and talk with our researchers about their methods for face detection and tracking, face morphing, image smoothing, image segmentation and even systems that automatically inspect trains --all accomplished by programming computers with abilities to see.

Cost-Benefit Decision in Foraging

Animals as simple as the predatory sea-slug Pleurobranchaea make decisions basically like humans. That is, they add up their internal state (hunger), sensations (taste and pain), and memories to decide whether to approach or avoid objects in the environment. Researchers Nathaniel Ryckman, Kun Tian and Jeffrey Brown present a simulation based on studies of brain and behavior of the sea-slug in which autonomous agents reproduce the cost-benefit decisions of the animal's foraging strategies. Users can change different factors to see how they affect survival and reproduction.

Differential Roles of Dopamine D2 Receptor Isoforms in Alcohol Consumption and the Action of Other Addictive Drugs

Individual differences in dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) expression in the brain are thought to influence motivation and reinforcement for alcohol and other rewards. D2R exists in two isoforms, D2 long (D2L) and D2 short (D2S). The relative contributions of D2L versus D2S to consumption of alcohol and the actions of other abused drugs are not known. Genetic engineering was used to produce a line of knockout (KO) mice that lack D2L, but still express functional D2S (D2L KO mice). Using this genetically altered mouse model, we investigated the role of two D2R isoforms in alcohol drinking and in the action of other addictive drugs such as cocaine and morphine. These studies enhance our understanding of the neurobiological basis underlying alcohol-drinking behavior and may facilitate the development of novel therapeutic agents for alleviating heavy drinking.

Effects of an Electronic Health Record System in an Urgent/Convenient Care Clinic

Dan Morrow, PhD, in collaboration with Karen Dunn Lopez, PhD (UIC College of Nursing), and a group of graduate and undergraduate research assistants investigated a change from a hybrid electronic health record (EHR)/paper-based documentation to a meaningful use vendor-designed system (EPIC) on workflow, efficiency, and clinician workload in urgent/convenient care clinics in the Champaign-Urbana area. The project involved unstructured work observations, semi-structured interviews, time-motion, and surveys completed by doctors, nurses, and medical assistants pre- and post- implementation of the EPIC system. In this presentation, Dr. Morrow will show the workflow of the clinical visits and provide findings from the study.

The Ever Changing Brain

This exhibit will include activities to demonstrate the short-term plasticity of your brain.  

Human-Computer Interaction

We will introduce and show several of our live demos on intelligent human computer interaction, including face tracking and avatar playing, and age and gender recognition. Visitors are welcome to try out our demos on themselves.

Imaging Technology Group, Visualization (Viz) Lab

We will showcase some of our most popular imaging technologies, high-speed videography and 3D scanning, as well as image results of real work being done in the Vis Lab. We will be giving demonstrations on how this technology works.

Imaging the Brain

Visit this exhibit for an interactive demonstration of the optical imaging methods used in the Cognitive Neuroimgaing Lab. The demonstration includes a look at the Event Related Optical Signal (EROS) and its use in studying changes in brain activity and cognition.

The Intonation Station

Intonation is the music of speech. It can turn a declaration into a denial, an inquiry into an inquest, and generally change the meaning of a phrase without changing a single word. Intonation is vital in all forms of speech communication, in all languages, and can reveal chapters about a speaker's linguistic history. But what exactly is intonation and how do we exploit it to convey meaning in speech? At this interactive exhibit, you will see how linguists and engineers investigate intonation using acoustic signal processing and how computer systems can automatically track intonation for human-computer dialogue.

Language and Brain Lab

As you read these words (or hear them being read to you!), your brain is engaged in the amazingly complex task of understanding language. Come see how researchers measure electrical signals from the brain using non-invasive EEG techniques, in order to explore this fascinating process of language comprehension.

Light as the ultimate measure

Watch videos of quantitative light imaging to illustrate that we can use light to measure and obtain quantitative information of different objects from biological cells to semiconductor materials. We will measure the thickness of your hair using the interference pattern.

Marine Biology Lab

See clownfish, the fish that are capable of changing their sex, and the stars of popular films, including "Finding Nemo."

Memory Systems Lab

The Memory Systems Lab uses converging cognitive neuroscience methods to study the nature and the organization in the brain of human learning and memory. We conduct neuropsychological studies of patients with memory disorders, together with functional neuroimaging, human electrophysiological, and eye tracking studies, as well as computational modeling of memory. Stop by our exhibit to learn more about what we study.

Network for Neuro-Cultures—SATURDAY ONLY 10 am -2 pm

What do the cognitive sciences, language and literature have in common? In this exhibit from the Network for Neuro-Cultures, come and see a blend of research methods and a sample study on brain-language interaction. The Network for Neuro-Cultures is a transdisciplinary graduate training program that fosters conversations between humanists, social scientists, and neuroscientists. We are funded by an INTERSECT grant from the Graduate College at the University of Illinois.

Neural Mechanisms Underlying Emotion-Cognition Interactions in Healthy and Clinical Groups

Complex dynamic behavior involves reciprocal influences between emotion and cognition. On the one hand, emotion is a double-edged sword that may affect various aspects of our cognition and behavior, by enhancing or hindering them and exerting both transient and long-term influences. On the other hand, emotion processing is also susceptible to cognitive influences, typically exerted in the form of emotion regulation. Noteworthy, both of these reciprocal influences are subjective to individual differences that may affect the way we perceive, experience, and eventually remember emotional experiences, or respond to emotionally challenging situations. Understanding these relationships is critical, as unbalanced emotion-cognition interactions may lead to devastating effects, such as those observed in mood and anxiety disorders. Recently, it has become apparent that findings cures for these disorders depends on understanding the brain mechanisms that are responsible for such dramatic changes in the ways emotion interfaces with cognition.

Novel Environmentally Benign Sensors, Imaging Agents, and Nanomaterials and Their Environmental, Biotechnological and Pharmaceutical Applications

One of the most important discoveries in the last decade is that DNA and RNA are not only materials for genetic information storage and transfer, but also antibody analogues for recognition of a diverse range of analytes and catalysts for a variety of biological reactions. They were called functional DNAs, including aptamers, DNAzymes, and aptazymes. Our group is interested in exploring the interaction between the functional DNAs and common nanoscale components and translates our knowledge to provide a general platform for selective detection of contaminants in food processing, decontamination of microbial in healthcare, and development of targeted drug delivery system for possible clinical anticancer applications.

Reframing Justice in the New Carbon Economy

The planet is experiencing global warming and climate change. The United Nations (UN), through the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Conference of Parties (COP) meetings of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is tasked with developing global solutions to avert climate change extinction of humanity. This exhibit provides information on the new carbon economy. The exhibit also provides provisional results from research informed by the theories of the eminent American political scientist Nancy Fraser, on the likely impact of the new carbon economy on the have-nots that also share our planet.

The Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Group

Stop by and check out atomic-scale images of the world at the nanoscale! Learn how we can see atoms with scanning tunneling microscopy, how our work has impacted electronics today, and how it could shape the future. We will also demonstrate nano-graffiti where we draw on a silicon surface by removing hydrogen atoms.

Take a new look at yourself (Imaging at Illinois)

Imagine having your picture taken and printed using a mosaic of pictures. We will take a picture of you and then using a "keyword" of your choosing, compose the picture of you with images that represent your keyword.

Use It or Lose It: Engagement for Lifelong Cognitive Health (Saturday only Room 1434 too.)

Research in our lab explores pathways to lifelong cognitive health. The theme of our exhibit is engagement -- the way in which we invest ourselves in activities with our time and attention. We showcase two projects: (1) the Senior Odyssey project, in which older adults participate in team-based creative problem solving, and (2) the Lifelong Lifewide Literacy project, in which we explore how adults engage attention as they read in different sorts of media to build their cognitive capacities.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging—Room 1215

Come and get a demonstration of our mock MRI machines (no magnets) and interact in some live imaging games.

Lisa Frank — Senior Beckman Fellow—Room 1237

Lisa will be demonstrating her interest in the intersection of art and technology using her 3D photography shown in a head-mounted displayed virtual world.

Language Learning by a Humanoid Robot—Room 1510

Live demonstration of various learned behaviors of Bert, our humanoid robot at 11 am and 2 pm each day.

Neural Interfaces: Control Your World—Room 1005

Fly a quadcopter just by using neural signals from your arm muscles! Learn about the amazing things that can be done by using the electrical signals generated by your brain.

Basement Exhibits

Light/Laser, X-Ray, and Electron Microscopy—B604/B606 & Atrium

The Beckman Microscopy Suite, just off the main elevator bay in the basement of the Beckman building, will be demonstrating fluorescence and laser scanning confocal microscopy, micro- and bio-micro- x-ray computed tomography (CT), and high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (SEM; the microscope used in the Bugscope K-12 outreach program). Please stop by!

14.1T Inova Microimaging Scanner—Room B660

Visiting 14.1T (141000 Gauss) Inova 600 microimaging system you will see a super high magnetic field MRI scanner which is one of only seven such magnets in operation in the world. The instrument is capable of performing MR imaging and local microspectroscopic measurements with an imaging resolution up to 10 microns. You will get fascinating noninvasive MRI inside into a wide variety of alive subjects ranging from ants, caterpillars, sticklebacks and frogs to mice brain microstructure.

Looking inside the body using positrons, gamma radiation, and X-rays—Room B668

Visit recently opened NSF-funded state-of-the-art Molecular Imaging Laboratory equipped with a triple modality (PET/SPECT/CT) non-invasive imaging system. We will demonstrate the operating principles of nuclear imaging, and how new imaging agents are synthesized in our radiochemistry laboratory and used in preclinical studies. You will even get a chance to see some of our imaged animal specimen.

3rd Floor Exhibits

Personalized Imaging—Room 3520

Have you ever wondered what your eardrum looks like at the micron scale? In the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory we have developed an advanced imaging tool that allows physicians and patients to see exactly that. Using an optical imaging technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT), we have the capability to image through the eardrum to observe what may lie behind it. Come see the new tool we are providing physicians with to help diagnose and fight ear infections!

Cuttlefish: The Chameleon of the Sea—Room 3524

Friday, March 8: 9:30 and 11:30 am, 1:30 and 3:30 pm.
Saturday, March 9: 9:30 and 11:30 am, 1:30, and 3 pm.

Cuttlefish are interesting marine animals from the same biological class as squid, octopus, and nautilus. Cuttlefish are commonly referred to as the chameleon of the sea because of their ability to dynamically change their skin color, pattern, and texture at will. They are able to do so because of the many layers of skin cells that can be individually controlled directly by their brain to produce any variety of color shade or complex pattern to camouflage the cuttlefish when hiding or hunting. Very social creatures, cuttlefish also utilize their dynamic, unique skin cells to communicate with one another, especially during mating season. Oddly enough, cuttlefish are actually colorblind but they are able to perceive the lights polarization, which enhances their perception of contrast. Our group is studying these amazing creatures to better understand how the cuttlefish perceive and respond to their environment by assessing their response to different patterns, images, and light stimulation durations and polarization states.

Autonomous Materials Systems Research Group—Rooms 3712-3734-3736

Our research group studies materials that display autonomy -- the ability of a material to adapt to its environment without human intervention. These "smart materials" are inspired by nature and give rise to an exciting array of new technologies. Imagine smartphone cases that contain tiny capsules of glue to patch up any cracks you create by accidentally dropping your phone. Fighter jets with cooling channels hidden inside the wings to combat heat during supersonic flight. Plastics that suddenly change color when they are internally damaged and should be replaced. Batteries that can shut themselves down the moment they enter dangerous operating conditions that might otherwise lead to a fire.

At our exhibit, you will be able to talk with us about our research, take a tour of our main research laboratory, and participate in hands-on demos fit for all ages. First, stop by our booth in the atrium to hear an overview of our research and participate in a handful of demos. Next, come to our research laboratory on the 3rd floor so you can take a tour of the lab and participate in a larger array of demonstrations.