Nick Grossman, April 2, 2014

Grossman pic“The Future of Drones and Unmanned Systems”

In the last few decades, semi-autonomous killer machines have migrated from science fiction to a central role in real-world international relations.  The United States utilizes unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as “drones,” to strike targets both in and outside of military contexts.  Though the US is at the forefront of unmanned technology, all advanced militaries use robots to perform a variety of tasks. From surveillance to ordinance disposal, drones are used in the air, water, and on land.  With the US and other militaries’ increasing reliance on unmanned systems, the FAA endorsing commercial drones in 2015, and Google developing a self-driving car, the prevalence of robots is increasing exponentially.  As Grossman points out, technology often develops faster than humans’ understanding of it.

Nicholas Grossman is a lecturer in the political science department of the University of Iowa, where he teaches classes on terrorism and insurgency, national security policy, and 21st century technology and warfare.  He received a PhD in International Relations from the University of Maryland with a dissertation titled “Robotics and the Future of Asymmetric Warfare.”  Before coming to Iowa, he presented on preemptive warfare at the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, and on terrorism to the Applied Physics Laboratory.  As a technology enthusiast, Grossman finds developments in robotics to be both exciting and highly concerning.

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Filed under Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Technology, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Gregory Carmichael, March 27, 2014

carmichael pic“The Globalization of Air Pollution: Implications for Our Air, Water, and Food Quality”

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Gregory R. Carmichael, is the Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the University of Iowa.  He is internationally known for work on international air pollution concerns. Carmichael’s studies have led to greater understanding of problems related to the long range transport of pollutants within Asia and across the Pacific. Most recently his work has focused on the role of black carbon in the atmosphere and its dual role as an air pollutant and climate warming agent.

Gregory Carmichael is a member of the scientific steering committee for the UNEP Atmospheric Brown Clouds Asia project, where he has published recent papers on the important role of black carbon in the climate system. He also serves as chair for the Scientific Advisory Group for the World Meteorological Organization Global Atmospheric Watch Urban Meteorology and Environment project (GURME-WMO), which is focused on building global capacity to improve air quality forecasts and related services.

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Filed under Environmental Issues, Governance Issues, Health & Medicine, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Technology

Isabel Barbuzza, March 13, 2014

barbuzza pic“Lithium and the Green Car: Social and Environmental Changes in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia” 

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As energy hungry nations search for fossil-fuel alternatives, some look to lithium as a source for electricity. Bolivia’s salt desert, Salar de Uyuni, is 100 times the size of the famed Bonnevile Salt Flats of Utah and is estimated to hold as much as half of the world’s supply of lithium.  This has led some to refer to lithium as the “New Oil,” and subsequently Bolivia, the “New Saudi Arabia.”  However, many environmental groups believe lithium extraction is an unsustainable process that will produce irreparable damage to the environment and the Bolivian landscape.  As Barbuzza’s years of research will show, this story of landscape and salt is layered in both history and power.

Isabel Barbuzza is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa.  In addition, she directs the sculpture program in the Dimensional Practice Area. Barbuzza’s work has been exhibited internationally.  Her works can be seen in private and public collections around the world.  Barbuzza holds a BA and MFA from the University of California at Santa Barbara and her research involves narratives integrating social, geographical and ecological history across Latin America.

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Filed under Arts & Culture, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Technology

Philip Lutgendorf, March 13, 2014

Lutgendorf pic“Making Chai with a Fulbright”

Lutgendorf was in India during 2010-11 as a Fulbright-Hays Senior Overseas Research Fellow. His research topic was the popularization of tea drinking in India and its evolution into the country’s (invented) “national drink”-chai, a distinctive spiced tea. This topic necessarily touches on colonial era and post-Independence history, the rise of advertising, marketing, visual culture, changes in manufacturing, commerce, lifestyle, and eating habits.

Philip Lutgendorf is Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies and has taught in the University of Iowa’s Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature since 1985. His research on the Indian epic, Ramayana, has appeared as two books The Life of a Text (University of California Press, 1991), and Hanuman’s Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey (Oxford University Press, 2007).  He is presently translating the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas for the Murty Classical Library of India and Harvard University Press, and writing on the popularization of chai in 20th century India. He serves as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS).

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Robert Libra, February 27, 2014

5x7LibraStGeoserious“Fracking for Energy: Promises, Perils, Perceptions”

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The technology called Hydraulic Fracturing – often termed “Fracking” – refers to the high-pressure injection of water and other materials deep underground to break rock and release hydrocarbons. Fracking has led to a boom in the production of natural gas and oil, but has also raised a variety of concerns with respect to the environment, impacts on local communities, and contributions to climate change. In this talk Bob Libra will outline the dynamics of fracking, and the implications of increased practice both domestically and internationally.

Robert Libra is the State Geologist of Iowa, and has worked with the Iowa Geological Survey for over 30 years, including 10 years in his current position. His work has involved a wide range of geologic and water-related research, with a focus on groundwater resources. He is a Minnesota native with degrees in Geology from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and Indiana University.


Filed under Environmental Issues, Past Events, Technology

Jose Morcuende, February 20, 2014

6642039297_79bf1ac6c9_o“The Worldwide Impacts of the Ponseti International Association”

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Each year, 200,000 children worldwide are born with clubfoot, and about 80% of these children live in impoverished countries.  Without corrective treatment, these children face not only severe lifelong physical issues but may be cast aside and regarded as useless by their societies.

The legendary and revered Ignacio Ponseti, MD, was at the University of Iowa from 1941 to 2009. He transformed the treatment of clubfoot through his invention of a non-invasive, cost-effective procedure utilizing a series of casts and manipulation.

Jose Morcuende, MD, PhD, received his degrees from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. He arrived in Iowa City in 1991 to study with Dr. Ponseti. As President and Medical Director of the Ponseti International Association (PIA) Dr. Morcuende continues to advance the Ponseti Method worldwide.  He has visited more than 55 countries, helping to establish clinics, train personnel, and permanently improve the lives of thousands of children.

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Rene Genadry, MD, February 11, 2014

Genadry pic“Reflections on the Development of a Collaborative Program in Niger”

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Dr. Rene Genadry will share the process behind his proposal to develop a collaborative relationship with the Abdo Moumouni University School of Health Sciences through the International Programs at the UI. He will review a format of cooperation in the areas of pelvic floor disorders and urinary incontinence including obstetric fistula.  The challenges and the mutual benefits in the development of such a long-term relationship will be addressed, including the status of the program and a long-term vision for the future.

Genadry is a Professor of OB/Gyn and Urology at the UI Carver School of Medicine. He is a member of the International Obstetric Fistula Working Group of the UNFPA aiming at eradicating Obstetric Fistula and has co-directed a seminar on research priorities in Obstetric Fistula at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has collaborated with the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the International Organization for Women and Development.  He is the co-author of a “Women’s Guide to Urinary Incontinence” published at the Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Filed under Governance Issues, Health & Medicine, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events