Chemistry’s Jean-Luc Ayitou Hosts First STEAMing Dialogue Meeting

If the sun disappeared, the Earth would go dark, temperatures would fall to -100 degrees, ocean surfaces would freeze, and the atmosphere would collapse. It would be difficult to survive.

The crucial role of the sun as a source of energy and life will be the topic of conversation at the first Illinois Tech science café for the community on Saturday, June 23 from 10 a.m.–noon at Roberts Temple, C.O.G.I.C. (4021 S. State Street). Jean-Luc Ayitou, assistant professor of chemistry, will host the cafe, dubbed “STEAMing (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Dialogue.” Ayitou also will speak on “What Does the Sun Mean to Humans?” and Aman Sandu, assistant professor, Institute for Food Safety and Health, will speak on “Sun, Drought, and Agriculture.” Admission is free. A discussion will follow the talks. Snacks will be served. All are welcome to attend. Please RSVP to

Ayitou developed the new science cafés with Alicia Bunton, director of community affairs, to give Illinois Tech’s neighbors a chance to have a scientific discussion with university faculty and to inspire future scientists. There will be another café on Saturday, August 4.

In January, Ayitou received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, which honors early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. Ayitou and his research team explore new crystalline materials that can be used to harvest and transform solar energy into solar electricity. Fundamentally, the AJA lab is creating new chemical compounds that have the property to absorb light. The impetus of their research work is to use these compounds to amplify the energy of light particles or photons.

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