Penn State Harrisburg 2021 Research Showcase

October 7-8, 2021
Mukund S. Kulkarni Theatre



Please join us for our inaugural two-day research showcase, highlighting research accomplishments of Penn State Harrisburg faculty, staff, and students. Multiple panel presentations are planned and you can attend all of the sessions in person or virtually.

Dr. Sylvia Earle
Sylvia Earle - Kip Evans/Mission Blue 

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Sylvia Earle as the keynote speaker for the 2021 Research Showcase, in partnership with the PA Recycling Markets Center and the PA Department of Environmental Protection. Dr. Earle is President and Chairman of Mission Blue and a National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence. She is called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and the New York Times, “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, and “First Hero for the Planet” by Time Magazine. She is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer with a lifetime of experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and non-profit organizations.



Thursday, October 7, 2021
7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

  • Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing
  • Digital Connectivity in Ground Vehicles
  • Keynote: Dr. Sylvia Earle on Microplastics and the Built Environment
  • Disparities in STEM Education 
  • Autism Across the Lifespan

Friday, October 8, 2021
7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Business and Industry Innovation
  • Data Science in Health and Public Affairs
  • Data in the Driver’s Seat: Using Research to Address Substance Use Disorder Stigma in PA
  • Navigating Multi-Sector Collaboration
  • Exercise, Genetics, and Health


Full Agenda

Keynote: Dr. Sylvia Earle
Microplastics and the Built Environment: Impacts and Interactions

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Dr. Sylvia Earle
Dr. Sylvia Earle
Photo by Todd Brown         

Dr. Sylvia Earle is the President and Chairman of Mission Blue, an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, Founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER), Chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and former Chief Scientist of NOAA.

Author of more than 225 publications and leader of more than 100 expeditions with over 7,500 hours underwater, Dr. Earle is a graduate of Florida State University with M.A. and PhD. degrees from Duke University and 32 honorary degrees. Her research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems and development of technology for access to the deep sea.

She is the subject of the Emmy® Award Winning Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, and the recipient of more than 100 national and international honors and awards including being named Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet, a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, 2014 UNEP Champion of the Earth, Glamour Magazine’s 2014 Woman of the Year, member of the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, and winner of the 2009 TED Prize, the Walter Cronkite Award, the 1996 Explorers Club Medal, the Royal Geographic Society 2011 Patron’s Medal, and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal.

Introduction by Patrick McDonnell, Secretary, PA Department of Environmental Protection 

patrick mcdonnell
Patrick McDonnell
Secretary, PA Department
of Environmental Protection

Patrick McDonnell has served as the Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection since being nominated by Governor Tom Wolf in 2016. Patrick's career with DEP spans several decades, beginning in 1998.

Prior to becoming Secretary, McDonnell served as the department's director of policy. He also ran the State Energy Office, coordinating renewable energy and energy efficiency issues. McDonnell previously served as DEP's Deputy Secretary for Administration, overseeing the agency's budget, human resource and information technology programs. In addition, he spent over three years as executive policy manager for former Public Utility Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer, focusing on electric, natural gas and water issues.  

A native of Philadelphia, Secretary McDonnell received his Master's degree in Political Science from Lehigh University and his Bachelor's degree from DeSales University. He lives in Harrisburg with his wife Colleen and their four children.

Who Should Attend

  • Business and industry innovation leaders
  • Health care practitioners and researchers
  • State, local, and federal government officials
  • Community and economic development leaders
  • Penn State Harrisburg faculty, staff, and students
  • Faculty from other campuses and institutions



Funded and organized by the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, Penn State Harrisburg, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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