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Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities, and Discovery (RSCAD) News

May 21, 2015

The weekly RSCAD newsletter provides the latest research news, funding opportunities and academic trends.

K-State in the News

Study: Spring Heat Poses Greater Danger to Wheat Yields

05/13/15 Huffington Post 
Spring heat poses a greater danger to winter wheat crops than early freezes in the fall, according to a new Kansas State University study that highlights the need develop more heat-tolerant varieties as climate change increases global temperatures.

Why You Can Never Remember People's Names: Brain Struggles to Retain Random Information - Especially If We're Not Interested in the Person

05/15/15 Daily Mail 
Alternatively, if a person isn't interested in people they're talking to, or knows they won't meet them again, they are less likely to store the information because it has little use to them. "As a result, people who enjoy making new relationships are tuned in and focused and barely feel as if their memory is being used or tested," explained the video. This was spotted by Kansas State University's Richard Harris, professor of psychology. He found that it's not necessarily a brain's ability that determines how well a person can remember names, but rather their level of interest. "Some people, perhaps those who are more socially aware, are just more interested in people, more interested in relationships," Professor Harris said. "They would be more motivated to remember somebody's name."

Do You Believe in Pure Evil? Researchers Say Our Views Can Decide Whether We Back the Death Penalty for Criminals

05/15/15 Daily Mail
"We found that as people's beliefs in pure evil increased, they were more likely to support sentences like life in prison without parole and even the death penalty," said Donald Saucier of Kansas State University.

Funds for Water Conservation Shrink, But Will Be Focused on Great Plains

05/14/15 Miami Herald
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday that it will direct $6.5 million in federal funds to the Great Plains region to help farmers and ranchers conserve water in the Ogallala Aquifer. The enormous underground aquifer supplies water to eight states from South Dakota to Texas, but it is quickly being drained. Seventy percent of the Ogallala’s water will be gone within 50 years if nothing is done, according to a Kansas State University study.

Gardening in a Polluted Paradise: Is it Safe?

05/15/15 Science Daily
Researchers at Kansas State University have looked into how vegetables take up different soil contaminants. They also considered how different gardening practices could reduce this uptake. They found that, in the majority of examples, eating vegetables grown in the contaminated soils studied was safe.

Expect to Pay More for Beef as Past Droughts Hit Home and Tastes Change
05/12/15 ArcaMax
In time the increased supply of cows should stabilize beef prices at the grocery counter, said Glynn Tonsor, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University. But he noted that cattle, unlike fast-growing chickens or pigs, require about three years to breed and fatten for slaughter. Just as in humans, it takes nine months for a pregnant bovine to deliver a healthy calf. "We're probably a year and a half away from any notable reductions in beef prices," Tonsor predicted.

From our Peers

Horrific Hygiene on Flights Revealed *Gulps*

05/18/15 MSN.com
Although cabins are cleaned by airlines, findings by the Auburn University in Alabama, USA, revealed that disease-causing bacteria can survive for up to a week inside plane cabins, on surfaces such as tray tables, seat pockets, armrests and window blinds.

Why Kindness Is Contagious, According To Science

05/18/15 Huffington Post 
New research published in the journal Biological Psychiatry aimed to find out what moral elevation actually looks like in the brain and body. Researchers measured the brain activity and heart rates of 104 college students while they watched videos depicting either heroic acts of kindness or humorous situations. When the students were viewing the heroic acts, activity in both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system peaked — an unusual combination that suggests both a fight-or-flight response and a calming, self-soothing response. When they were watching the amusing videos, there was no activation in either system. “This is a really uncommon pattern, where you see both of these systems recruited for one emotion,” Dr. Sarina Saturn, a psychologist at Oregon State University and one of the authors of the study, told the Greater Good Science Center.

Iowa State University Research Park Aims to Increase Size

05/17/15 Houston Chronicle 
To recruit entrepreneurs, investors and highly educated workers who are increasingly drawn to jobs in city centers, suburban research parks like Iowa State's are adding amenities and denser developments in an effort to create a more urban atmosphere.

Why We Accept ‘Dad Bod’ on Rich Men

05/13/15 Time Magazine 
Much has been said about Clemson University student Mackenzie Pearson’s seemingly innocuous article in which she claims to identify a whole new relationship trend in which young women are into a certain type of man — those with a “Dad Bod” — because those guys won’t make them look bad when they have their picture taken on the beach.

Oregon State Robot Walks Something Like the Walk
05/23/15 Washington Times
Traditional bipedal robots take steps fairly slowly and deliberately, with “knees” that are permanently bent. Such robots easily could be tripped. Also, the stiff motion requires a lot of energy, which limits how long a bipedal robot can operate. But the researchers behind a new walking robot designed and built at Oregon State University say their robot is both more efficient and mobile than any that’s come before it, because its design is based on a study of the motion of humans and ground-running birds.
Natural Sunscreen That Works From the Inside Out?
05/15/15 CBS News 
Just as humans need protection from the harmful effects of sun exposure, so do animals. Yet even though animals in the wild spend their entire lives outdoors, they seem to fend off ultraviolet radiation. How do they do it? Researchers asked this question in a recent study that yielded interesting results: they found that some animal species seem to produce their own sunscreen. ... "For many years, it was thought that small-molecule sunscreens like gadusol are only produced by microorganisms," the study's lead author, Taifo Mahmud, a professor at Oregon State University, told CBS News. "Therefore, their finding in fish and marine animals was believed to be of dietary or symbiont origin. In this study, we found for the first time that fish can actually synthesize gadusol."

New Funding Opportunities

The Funding Connection

The Funding Connection is a weekly publication of Research & Sponsored Programs. For more information about individual programs and for applications, please e-mail research@k-state.edu or call 785 532-6195.

Check out this week's new funding opportunities.

RSCAD Trending Topics

Where Is Avian Flu Hiding?
It was still winter in Minnesota when state officials first heard about turkeys on a large farm that seemed to be a bit off. Some of the birds were unusually quiet, drank and ate little and seemed to have trouble moving. Within two weeks of exhibiting this odd behavior they were dying. The cause, laboratory tests soon confirmed, was H5N2, a mixed-origin avian flu that had never been seen in the U.S. before this year.
Adjunct Teaching: For Love of the Lecture

Non-tenure-track teaching positions, often called 'instructor' or 'lecturer', can offer freedom and flexibility, but often provide much-lower pay — salaries frequently start on a par with graduate-student stipends. For those who want to keep a hand in science, but not entirely at the bench, these roles offer a chance to hone teaching skills and work directly with undergraduate science students. They can also come with a hefty dose of advising and counselling responsibilities. Some instructors maintain limited research programmes; for others, research is out of reach. Early-career scientists who are considering this route should understand that it is not generally realistic or sustainable as a long-term option or for those who want to engage in substantial research. 

What It Takes to Lift Families Out of Poverty

Eighteen years ago, Dean Karlan was a fresh, bright-eyed graduate student in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He wanted to answer what seemed like a simple question: "Does global aid work?" Karlan says. He was reading a bunch of studies on the topic. But none of them actually answered the question. "We were tearing our hair out reading these papers because it was frustrating," he says. "[We] never really felt like the papers were really satisfactory." 

2 Key Problems for Fracking Research: Not Enough Disclosure, Not Enough Financing

Several Pennsylvania State University researchers contributed to a recent research project that linked hydraulic fracturing to drinking-water contamination. A Syracuse University scientist in a different study of the oil-recovery technique came to the opposite conclusion. A common thread between the two studies came to light this week, however: Both were brought into question by failures to fully disclose the outside financial interests that could have had an interest in swaying their conclusions.

Colleges Strive to Meet Demand for a More Hands-On Education

Soon, all undergraduates at Georgia will be required to pursue similar academic paths. The university announced last month that, as early as the fall of 2016, every incoming freshman will be required to participate in a hands-on learning experience in order to graduate. A growing number of large institutions are embracing experiential learning to enhance their students' education. In his executive budget, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York dictated that the City and State Universities of New York should develop some kind of experiential-learning plan by June 1, 2016. Georgia is one of the largest public universities to make such opportunities compulsory for all students. Experiential learning is a broader term for what George D. Kuh, an emeritus professor at Indiana University at Bloomington and director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, has called "high-impact practices." He cites such experiences as study abroad, undergraduate research, service learning, and senior capstone projects — all of which require students to apply their classroom learning to the world outside. Research shows that such experiences greatly improve students’ learning and progress through college, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

M.F.A. Exodus

Seven students, making up the entire first-year class in the visual arts master of fine arts program at the University of Southern California, issued an open letter saying that they were quitting. While students drop out of graduate and professional programs all the time, and the program is a small one, losing an entire class of students is unusual — and attracted immediate attention.

The Challenge of the First-Generation Student

Tae-Hyun Sakong would love to be able to tell his parents why he decided to major in neuroscience, and what it was like to help his biology professor probe a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The Trinity University undergraduate also wishes he could tell them about the anxiety and depression that overwhelm him when he compares himself with classmates who attended elite prep schools and spend spring breaks in Cancun. But his parents, who never went to college, speak little English, and he speaks his native Korean at a grade-school level. "I would kill to be able to explain to them what I do," he says.