School of Science and Engineering

The Harrington STEM Lectures

The School of Science and Engineering hosts this series of lectures on major topics of current scientific interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). These lectures, each designed for a general scientific audience, are given by recognized scholars from around the country. The public is cordially invited to these lectures at no charge.  

John Harrington was the founding dean of the SUNY New Paltz School of Science & Engineering. This lecture series honors his years of dedication to science, education and collaboration across the STEM disciplines.

For further information, including sponsorship opportunities, please email or call 845-257-3784.

Spring 2021 Virtual Harrington STEM Lecture Series 

Location:  Virtual - click on the title of the lecture for the Webex link 
Time: 5:00 p.m. followed by Q & A

February 16 
Heather Russell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics, University of Richmond 
Reconfiguring Graph Colorings

A reconfiguration system provides a convenient mathematical framework for studying the structure of the solution set to a given problem. In such a system, the set of solutions is equipped with a reconfiguration rule allowing one to iteratively transition between solutions. In this talk, we will explore properties of reconfiguration systems for graph colorings which can be used to model a variety of scheduling problems. Our investigation will focus on connectivity properties of these systems. We will also demonstrate software our research group at the University of Richmond has developed to aid in visualization and conjecture testing. No prior knowledge of graphs is necessary. The talk will begin with the definition of a graph and provide lots of examples along the way!

March 9
Jeff Reidenauer, Ph.D.  
Chief, Marine Minerals Division, Bureau of Ocean Energy
Management Offshore Critical Minerals: What are They and Why Should I Care?

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) within the U.S. Department of Interior has jurisdiction over marine mineral development on the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). There has been renewed, recent interest in seabed minerals that are critical to the national economy and defense. Critical minerals are minerals with supply chains that are vulnerable to disruption. Currently, the U.S. has designated 35 minerals as critical. For 31 of the 35 critical minerals, the U.S. imports more than half of its annual consumption. The U.S. has no domestic production for 14 of the critical minerals and is completely dependent on imports to supply its demand. Critical minerals are essential to the production of high-tech equipment in a wide variety of sectors including energy production, national defense, battery technology, information technology, and health care. There are three primary types of offshore mineral deposits that contain potential commercial concentrations of critical minerals; polymetallic nodules, ferromanganese crusts, and seafloor massive sulfides. These deposits contain several of the designated critical minerals such as manganese, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth elements. Marine mineral deposits containing potential critical minerals occur on the OCS with even higher levels for resources offshore the U.S. Pacific territories. Portions of the seabed in international waters, especially in the central Pacific Ocean, also contain a high potential for critical minerals and may be developed by other nations in the next few years.

April 6
Toby Cumberbatch, Ph.D.
Professor of Electrical Engineering, Cooper Union
Engineering for the Middle of Nowhere 

Humankind is on the verge of extinction—our life support system, the earth, is no longer able to accommodate current human activity. To ensure future supplies of water, food and energy, radical changes in infrastructure and lifestyle are required. Engineering solutions must do more with less, use what’s at hand and live with the land. First year, first semester engineering students exposed to intractable, open-ended problems, set in resource constrained environments think beyond accepted practice. They learn to design accessible, functional, naturally driven human support systems and comprehend that purely technical solutions are no longer available. Their answers automatically incorporate minimalism, sustainability and social justice; they match function, materials and manufacture to climate, culture and place of use; they look to equity.     

Click here to view past Harrington STEM Lectures.