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Webinar: Lyceum Society March 2022 Meeting




for Members

Webinar: Lyceum Society March 2022 Meeting

Monday, March 7, 2022


Presented By


Social time and announcements: 11:30am - 11:45am

Initial Talk: 11:45am - 12:30pm

Speaker: Philip Apruzzese

Topic: The 2021 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Outline: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 was awarded jointly to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan "for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis."

This development is a precise new tool for molecular construction, has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener.

Benjamin List wondered whether an entire enzyme was required to obtain a catalyst. He tested whether an amino acid called proline—in all its simplicity—could catalyze a chemical reaction. It could. Proline has a nitrogen atom that can provide and accommodate electrons during chemical reactions.

David MacMillan worked with metal catalysts that were easily destroyed by moisture. He therefore started to wonder whether it was possible to develop a more durable type of catalyst. He designed some simple molecules that could create ions which proved to be excellent at asymmetric catalysis.

Bio: Philip W. Apruzzese graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ with a BE degree in Chemical Engineering, an MS degree in Technology Management, and a CHMM. He was employed in the pharmaceutical industry (Squibb, Beecham, Schering-Plough) for nearly 40 years, holding manufacturing operations, project, research pilot plant startup, and environmental compliance management positions. From 2010 to 2019 he was employed part-time as a Chemical Engineering/Environmental, health, and safety consultant in addition to working seasonally as a Level C Official for USA Cycling racing events.

Since relocating to the Seattle area he has begun volunteer work with several non-profit community Cycling/Recycling resources and advocacy organizations.

In April, 2015, he spoke on Tour de France cycling performance enhancements – Post Lance/Post Drugs, and in 2019 he presented on The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion batteries.

Main Presentation: 12:30pm - 2:15pm

Speaker: Chirag Kumar

Topic: Computational Tools against Infectious Disease

Outline: How can computers protect us from COVID-19? Is math the solution to ending infectious diseases? Computational models of disease spread are powerful tools that have matured in recent decades. While they can provide scientists and policymakers with the means for testing prevention and control strategies, these models often make simplifying assumptions, or require intractable complexity to be realistic describers of disease dynamics. Moreover, when there is so much unknown about how a disease spreads, how can we go about simulating it? There is often a significant disconnect between simulation and implementation.

With collaborators at Princeton University and the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, an international group, Chirag works on bridging this gap. He uses high-performance computing to improve assumptions in standard infection control measures and then implements those strategies in communities of need. He will discuss his recent work on developing tailored and community-specific COVID-19 testing strategies and his vision for how computational tools can become realistic and impactful descriptors of real-world processes.

Bio: Chirag Kumar is the Smith-Newton Scholar at Princeton University, where he is pursuing a concentration in Chemistry with minors in Applied & Computational Mathematics and Global Health & Health Policy. His research spans computational biochemistry, mathematical epidemiology, and complex systems.

He is interested in system organization and understanding how microscopic phenomena impact macroscopic observables. He has worked on reducing infant mortality with the World Health Organization and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on computational models to develop community-specific strategies to fight COVID-19 with the internationally based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, in Washington DC and other global regions, plus lab work at Princeton University on high-accuracy techniques for measuring protein concentration.

Before coming to Princeton, he developed the leading broad-scale machine learning model for predicting ocean temperatures and worked on interpretable machine learning models for ocean-atmosphere processes at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, with results published in one of the leading earth science journals.

He is passionate about using science to serve society and strives to ensure that his work is translated into actionable policies that help communities in need. He is an effective science communicator, frequently giving talks about his work to the general public, including a TEDx Talk.

An alumnus of the Junior Academy of the New York Academy of Sciences, he was one of ten students invited to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter event and discovered his passion for mathematical epidemiology after a brief introduction to—and a subsequent research position with—scientists from the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis at Yale University's School of Public Health through the NYAS Global Stem Alliance.

In his free time, Chirag enjoys playing the cello, hiking, and cooking.


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