Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities, and Discovery (RSCAD) News
July 9, 2015
The weekly RSCAD newsletter provides the latest research news, funding opportunities and academic trends.
K-State in the News
Market concerns about the quantity and quality of the U.S. winter wheat crop being harvested and the dry conditions in other wheat-producing nations have sparked an unexpected run up in recent weeks to wheat prices. Normally, the flood of new grain coming in at harvest time drives down crop prices, and with prices already low when the harvest began, farmers in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas were worried. That hasn't happened this year, though, and wheat prices have actually risen since mid-June, said Dan O'Brien, an extension specialist in grain markets at Kansas State University. This is welcome news for those farmers still bringing in their crops.
The age-old debate between nature and nurture has entered the workplace, and the bad news is that you can no longer blame your laziness on the genes your parents gave you. The good news? You might instead blame it on your boss. New research from Kansas State University shows that employee proactivity is determined not by genetics or the environment alone, but rather by the interaction between the two. That means you may have innate tendencies when it comes to seizing the initiative, but your environment is also responsible for how eager you might be to tackle projects at work — giving employers a leading role in bringing out their team’s proactivity. Wendong Li, assistant professor of psychological sciences at Kansas State University, discovered this by examining a nationwide database of identical and fraternal twins. Identical twins share 100 percent of their genes, while fraternal twins on average share only half their genes. By comparing sets of twins — both identical and fraternal — Li was able to compare the similarities and differences between them.
So, why are more people clamoring for fireworks than ever before? Displays are definitely more elaborate and pushing more limits, but a recent study by a pair of professors at Kansas State University, Dr. Richard Harris and Dr. Mary E. Cain, illustrates that there are psychological reasons why we love things that go boom. 07/01/15 The Medical News
A federal program that helps feed hungry children in the summer is not being used as well as it should be in Kansas — and that concerns a Kansas State University nutritionist. "There has been a lot of concern because the summer food service program, a well-accepted program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just isn't getting the launch that it should be having for the number of hungry kids we know are around the country," said Sandy Procter, assistant professor of human nutrition and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program coordinator. "We are especially concerned for Kansas because we rank as one of the lowest states when it comes to providing summer meals."
07/06/15 Kansas City Star
Two billion people around the world regularly eat insects, but that doesn’t mean many Americans will, said John Ruberson, the head of the entomology department at Kansas State University. “People go out of their way to eat shrimp, but those are really like the cockroaches of the ocean,” Ruberson said. “It seems we still have this aversion to eating insects.”
07/06/15 Consumer Affairs
There has always been some trans fat in food because small amounts form naturally in meat and dairy products. The natural form is not the issue. Instead, the new regulation is aimed at the artificial trans fats that the food industry has used for decades to keep food from going bad and add to a product's shelf life, both in the supermarket and in consumers' pantries. "If you take oils naturally found in nature, especially the ones that have a lot of unsaturated fats, they are unstable in food products and get rancid," said Fadi Aramouni, professor of food processing and food product development at Kansas State University. "Years ago, the food industry developed a process to hydrogenate these fats.”
From Our Peers
Dong Pyou Han, a former Iowa State University researcher charged with falsifying HIV vaccine research, says that his troubles all started as an accident. Quickly, it became a multimillion-dollar research fraud scheme that landed him in prison.
"Regardless of how much or how little food production has contributed to the problem, we need to rethink how we use antibiotics across society," said Matthew Koci, a poultry science expert at North Carolina State University.
07/02/15 Huffington Post
Culturally, we value male leadership above female. The disparity is evidenced by research out of North Carolina State University. In the study, an online college class was divided into four discussion groups. Those groups were split evenly between two course instructors. One instructor was male while the other was female. The two professors told his or her correct gender to one group and the opposite to the other. At the end of the course, students submitted final evaluations of their instructors. The results showed that students rated the professors they thought were male much higher than the professors believed to be female, regardless of the professor's actual gender.
07/02/15 Yahoo! News
"Human engineers tend to build things that are stiff so they can be controlled easily," study co-author Ross Hatton, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, said in a statement. "But nature makes things just strong enough not to break, and then flexible enough to do a wide range of tasks. That's why we can learn a lot from animals that will inspire the next generations of robotics."
Domestic cats might be determined hunters, but they stick mostly to residential areas instead of venturing into parks and protected areas where coyotes roam. That's the key finding from a North Carolina State University analysis of more than 2,100 sites - the first large-scale study of free-ranging cats in the U.S. published in the Journal of Mammalogy.
“Despite having canine crown heights that were more than twice those of the lion, Smilodondidn’t require twice as much time to develop its canines,” said Aleksander Wysocki, a graduate student at Clemson University and lead author on the paper.
New Funding Opportunities
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RSCAD Trending Topics
For nearly all disciplines today, team science is the rule. These teams have grown increasingly large, including consortia that lead to hundreds of authors being named on a single study. Yet scientific papers, when assigning credit, still use a simple formula: a list. For the primary authors on these papers, who garner renown for a study, such a system can work out just fine. But other scientists, many possessing vital talents, have found themselves lost in a sea of co-authors, their contributions obscured and mysterious to tenure committees. It’s a growing problem, one that defies simple fixes.China is spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually in an effort to become a leader in biomedical research, building scores of laboratories and training thousands of scientists. But the rush to the front ranks of science may come at a price: Some experts worry that medical researchers in China are stepping over ethical boundaries long accepted in the West. UN-Habitat, the UN's agency for sustainable urban development, has a program to improve public space in developing world cities. It helps build new parks, squares, sports fields, and sidewalks, and promotes the value of public space to local people. Recently, it's used Minecraft to engage young people.
Like many residents of this picturesque island town on the edge of Acadia National Park, Zach Soares had trouble keeping his house warm, going through five cords of wood in the winter. So he jumped at an offer last year for free energy improvements through a class project at the College of the Atlantic, where he works. As a result, Mr. Soares ended up burning about a cord less of wood — typically about a $200 savings — this winter and was so satisfied with the results that he now plans to insulate a drafty 1880s farmhouse he is buying. The program that upgraded Mr. Soares’s home here on Mount Desert Island, as well as those of a handful of other college employees, was, at root, an academic exercise: It required students to research, collaborate, calculate, market and execute, part of the College of the Atlantic’s innovative, project-based approach to education.
Herbaria in North America are withering away. Collections of preserved plant specimens that have been accumulating for a century or more are being closed and consolidated as tight budgets and competition for space put pressure on universities to direct resources to facilities such as labs.
The University of California at San Diego has sued the University of Southern California and a researcher it lured away, accusing them of conspiring to take federal funding and research data from the San Diego campus, the Los Angeles Times reports. At the center of the lawsuit is Paul Aisen, the lead researcher on a prominent project to study Alzheimer’s disease. He left San Diego last month to lead a new Alzheimer’s institute at USC. The lawsuit alleges that he and eight colleagues who also left San Diego conspired to transfer the project, funded by the National Institute on Aging, to USC.
Once financial concerns have been covered by their parents, children have more latitude to study less pragmatic things in school. Kim Weeden, a sociologist at Cornell, looked at National Center for Education Statistics data for me after I asked her about this phenomenon, and her analysis revealed that, yes, the amount of money a college student’s parents make does correlate with what that person studies. Kids from lower-income families tend toward “useful” majors, such as computer science, math, and physics. Those whose parents make more money flock to history, English, and performing arts.