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

May 28, 2015

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

K-State in the News

To Garden, or Not to Garden? Study Examines Urban Soil
05/19/15 Yahoo! News
City-grown vegetables are likely safe to eat, according to a new study that takes a look at the increasingly popular practice of urban gardening. Certain horticultural techniques could reduce the vegetable's uptake of contaminants, according to the research team, who examined just how the roots absorb the various chemicals. Tomatoes, collard greens and carrots were grown in the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Quality. "Fruiting vegetables, leafy vegetables and root vegetables all take up nutrients and accumulate contaminants differently and that's why we tested three different types of plants," says Ganga Hettiarachchi of Kansas State University.
Drenching Rains Green Pastures, Bode Well for Herd Expansion

05/23/15 Yahoo! News
Ranchers in Kansas and elsewhere in cattle country are still trying to rebuild herds that were decimated in the 2012 and 2013 droughts, when they sold off much of their livestock because of shriveled pastures and skyrocketing hay prices. But in the past month, ranchers have benefited from inches of rain: Parts of Oklahoma and Texas averaged between 400 and 500 percent of its normal rainfall, and central Kansas saw 125 percent of what's normal, according to MDA Weather Services agricultural meteorologist Don Keeney. "Nationally, range and pasture conditions are notably improved from last year and other recent periods of drought throughout the U.S.," Kansas State University Extension beef specialist Glynn Tonsor said, adding that it means beef cow herds will expand as planned.

Kansas State University Scientists Develop Vaccine For H5N1, H7N9 Avian Influenza Strains

05/24/15 International Business Times
Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a vaccine for two new strains of avian influenza that have been making their way across Asia, leaving hundreds of people dead and causing farmers to kill millions of animals, Science Daily reported. One virus, H5N1, which has a 60 percent mortality rate, has killed hundreds in southeast Asia and north Africa. The other strain, H7N9, has been spreading around China since 2013, according to the World Health Organization. The two viruses are especially dangerous because they are able to jump from animals to humans, and have proved deadly. So far, they have killed hundreds people and farmers have killed thousands of animals to prevent its spread.

Genes May Influence Leadership in the Workplace, Research Finds

05/19/15 EurekAlert!
The right genes may help you become an organization's next president or CEO. But the same genes may also hinder your leadership path, according to Kansas State University psychological sciences research. Wendong Li, assistant professor of psychological sciences, and collaborators have found a "mixed blessing" for workers who hold workplace leadership positions, from the formal leader of a CEO to an informal group leader.

Why Can't We Talk About How Much We Make?

05/22/15 Elle Magazine
This idea that we shouldn't disclose information about finances is so deeply ingrained that it has remained unchallenged for decades, with no one ever really championing an alternative way of thinking. Dr. Kristy L. Archuleta, who edits the Journal of Financial Therapy and is an Associate Professor of Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State University, believes that if we start to open up about money in our families and with our own children, "it will be more likely that people can talk about money more comfortably overall."

From our Peers

Land-Grant Institutions Help Motivate Children, Parents to Increase Calcium Intake

05/19/15 Bloomberg
Scientists from 11 land-grant institutions and Brigham Young University are working together to help parents motivate children to boost calcium intake to strengthen bones and prevent bone fractures from occurring later in life. The scientists are members of a multistate research project titled Motivating Parents of Preadolescents (9-13 years old) to Increase Calcium Intake (W-2003), which uses data from questionnaires to develop messages and graphics for educational materials.

African-Americans Who Attended Desegregated Schools Have Better Language Skills Years Later

05/21/15 Huffington Post
African-Americans who attended racially diverse schools have better cognitive abilities decades after graduation, according to a new study. The study, published around the time of the recent 61st anniversary of Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, surveyed African-Americans older than 50 who attended desegregated Baltimore schools and compares their cognitive abilities with a group that attended segregated schools. Researchers from Duke University, University of South Florida, University of Delaware and North Carolina State University didn't find a difference in the rate of cognitive decline, but they did find that those who attended desegregated schools performed slightly better on measures of language and perceptual speed.

Longer, Stronger: Study Reveals More Reasons to Take Your Vitamin E

05/22/15 Yahoo! News
Long established as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is important for the membrane that envelops your muscle cells, promoting proper healing from the natural tears that take place when you work out, according to a new study. ... What's more, overdoing vitamin E is not the same health concern that excess of other vitamins can be, according to a 2013 study from Oregon State University in the US. "Toxic levels of vitamin E in the body simply do not occur," says author Maret Traber of OSU, an internationally recognized expert on vitamin E. "Unlike some other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and D, it's not possible for toxic levels of vitamin E to accumulate in the liver or other tissues."

Consolidation in Seed Industry Could Pressure DuPont Pioneer

05/24/15 USA Today
A merger proposed by Monsanto Co. with its Swiss rival, Syngenta AG, would create an agricultural giant that could have the heft to upend the seed industry and its few remaining players, including DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, Iowa. ... "When we're talking about the Big Two here, it would put Pioneer somewhat at a disadvantage. But the bigger concern is probably going to be for agriculture as a whole," said Chad Hart, an associate professor of economics at Iowa State University. "I think U.S. and world regulators will be looking at this very closely, especially given that it has to deal with agriculture and food production."

New Auburn Lab Dedicated to Radio Tracking Used By Retailers

05/22/15 Washington Times
From modest beginnings, Auburn University launched into the forefront of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Major companies such as Amazon, Target, Avery Dennison and VF Corporation now sponsor RFID research at AU. On Wednesday, business officials from some of America’s top companies joined Auburn students, faculty and staff to cut the ribbon on the university’s new RFID lab. The 13,000-square-foot lab is located on East Glenn Avenue, in the former Bruno’s grocery store.

New Antibody Insecticide Targets Malaria Mosquito

05/20/15 EurekAlert!
Malaria is a cruel and disabling disease that targets victims of all ages. Even now, it is estimated to kill one child every minute. Recent progress in halting the spread of the disease has hinged on the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and spraying programmes that target the insect that spreads the disease, the African malaria mosquito (Anopheles gambiae). However, the insects are fighting back, developing resistance to insecticides such as pyrethroid that control their numbers, forcing Brian Foy and Jacob Meyers from Colorado State University to think of alternative control strategies. Wondering if they could defeat the mosquitoes by developing a new insecticide, the duo decided to try to make blood meals toxic for mosquitoes. They decided to test whether antibodies targeted at a key component of the malaria mosquito's nervous system could be fed to the insects in a blood meal to kill them. The scientists publish their discovery that these antibodies are toxic and kill malaria mosquitoes in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

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

As They Slice NSF’s Budget, House Republicans Seek to Expose Research Misconduct

Among many controversial provisions in a bill to set policy for the National Science Foundation, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives has proposed that the NSF start publicly naming any scientists it finds guilty of research misconduct. The so-called Competes Act reauthorization, which faces a floor vote on Wednesday, is getting generally panned by university researchers and their advocates. But the idea to name names may be one of the more-popular suggestions.

Doubts About Study of Gay Canvassers Rattle the Field

He was a graduate student who seemingly had it all: drive, a big idea and the financial backing to pay for a sprawling study to test it. In 2012, as same-sex marriage advocates were working to build support in California, Michael LaCour, a political science researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, asked a critical question: Can canvassers with a personal stake in an issue — in this case, gay men and women — actually sway voters’ opinions in a lasting way? (See another story on this topic here.

American Innovation Lies on Weak Foundation

The iPhone in your pocket has more computing power than the Voyager spacecraft that left the solar system two years ago. High-tech cancer drugs are being approved every month. A few years into the future, Google’s Calico project promises to extend our life span. It’s easy, indeed, to be excited about the scientific and technological prowess of American companies. ... But talk to a scientist in a research lab almost anywhere and you are likely to hear that the edifice of American innovation rests on an increasingly rickety foundation.

Bullish on 2040

Economists tend to be overly optimistic about growth and prosperity, while education experts tend toward unjustified pessimism. There’s no question that more and more people are arguing that, even if American higher education has had a golden age, by 2040 it will be long gone. What will the future really look like?

Gene Scientists' Quest for Cadaver Tissue Faces Ethical Hurdles

It’s one of the toughest conversations imaginable: approaching a grieving family in a hospital and asking for permission to take dozens of tissues for research from a loved one who has died unexpectedly. During the last five years, that has been the task of "tissue requesters" operating on behalf of the Genotype-­Tissue Expression (GTEx) project, a $100-million effort organized by the National Institutes of Health. With the research — the first wave of which was published this month — scientists hope to illuminate the roles played by DNA variants in regulating the expression of genes. The researchers want to know how gene expression works in different parts of the same person’s body, and also in similar tissues across multiple individuals.

How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged By Public Universities

In the pursuit of prestige, revenue, and rankings, more public universities have turned to dangling merit-based scholarships to attract more out-of-state students, according to a report by the New America Foundation released earlier this week. The result: shortchanging both poor students, who are less likely to receive such aid, and students in the states the universities are funded to serve. Public colleges once devoted the biggest chunk of their financial aid money, some 34%, to students in the bottom income quartile, giving just 16% to the wealthiest students, the report says. That has now shifted dramatically: Financial aid at public colleges now goes equally to the top and bottom quartile of students, with wealthy students receiving 23% of financial aid. The poorest students now receive only 25%.

Temple Professor Charged With Selling Trade Secrets to China

The head of Temple University’s physics department has been charged with giving sensitive information about U.S. technology to China. Xioaxing Xi, a U.S. citizen who is a native of China, was charged with four counts of wire fraud, according to federal prosecutors. He allegedly sought “lucrative and prestigious appointments” in China in exchange for the information.