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

July 30, 2015

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

K-State in the News

The Dark Side of Urban Farming

07/21/15 Yahoo! News
“Washing hands thoroughly after gardening, covered pathways with woodchips or gravel, and keeping soil moist during dry and windy conditions to prevent dust generation are all effective preventative measures to ensure safe gardening,” said Ganga Hettiarachchi, a soil chemist at Kansas State University and lead author of the study. She also pointed out other ways to reduce plants’ uptake of heavy metals from the soil. Adding nutrients to the soil will make plants less likely to absorb toxins. For instance, she said, phosphorus—which is good for healthy root grown—will transform lead into a more stable, less toxic form.

Research Program Bridges Gap Between University, Growers
07/25/15 SF Gate
Some Kansas growers are carrying out experiments that they helped design, evaluating questions such as how different varieties, seeding rates, nutrients and other variables actually work in their own fields. About 20 farmers are involved the program, in a partnership with Kansas State University that began last season. Agricultural experts at the university help the farmers design test plots and research projects so the experiments yield usable data, not just simple observations or side-by-side trials that could be influenced by outside factors. So far, the studies have conducted on soybeans, sorghum and corn.
Growing a Better Strawberry is a Goal of Olathe Research Center
07/21/15 Kansas City Star
By this time every summer, local strawberries are a fond memory, fading into the distance as the summer heat and scouring winds bear down. Fresh berries are still available at the store, but they’re more often than not a shipping-friendly kind that comes from hundreds of miles away. Now researchers from Kansas State University are looking for a way to get around the berry-defeating heat that keeps Kansans from enjoying local strawberries all the way through summer and perhaps into the fall. “We’re hoping to accomplish growing a successful strawberry crop in Kansas and implementing it in other farms so that there can be more local strawberries,” said Kelly Gude, a K-State graduate student in horticulture and urban food systems. Gude is conducting the research at the K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Center in Olathe. 
The Great Plains' Invisible Water Crisis

07/24/15 Miami Herald
“I feel hopeful for California. If it starts raining and snowing, their problem may somewhat take care of itself until the next drought,” said Daniel Devlin, director of the Kansas Water Resources Institute at Kansas State University. “Our problem is going to be here rain or shine.”

5 Reasons Farmers Grow Thirsty Crops in Dry Climates

07/24/15 Charlotte Observer
Land owners have a lot of equity sunk into those irrigated fields, the value of which drops dramatically if farmers reduce or halt irrigation. Making matters worse, 35 percent to 40 percent of the land farmers use to grow crops in western Kansas is leased by absentee landowners, a trend that’s increasing because of the aging population of farmers, said Bill Golden, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University. “The owners live in New York, and they say this land is worth $200 when irrigated,” Golden said. “The landlord’s attitude is you all want to stop watering your crops that’s fine, but you still gotta pay me $200 an acre. So it’s kind of a vicious cycle.”

The Push Against Performance Reviews

07/24/15 The New Yorker
In 2013, psychologists at Kansas State University and other institutions studied how different kinds of people react to negative feedback. They invited more than two hundred employees of a university to rate how they felt about a recent performance evaluation, and asked questions meant to categorize the employees based on how they approach personal goals. The researchers figured that people who seek out learning opportunities would react better than those who avoid situations in which they might fail. This was true—but even the avid learners disliked performance reviews, they just disliked them less.

From Our Peers

Study: The Angelina Jolie Effect on Breast Cancer Screening

07/21/15 Bloomberg
"We put a questionnaire online within three days of Jolie's announcement, to see if the announcement influenced anyone's intention to get genetic testing," says Kami Kosenko, an associate professor of communication at NC State and lead author of a paper on the work. "We also wanted to see if there were any variables, such as whether people felt they identified with Jolie, that were associated with people who were influenced by Jolie's announcement."  

Researchers Boost Wireless Power Transfer With Magnetic Field Enhancement
07/23/15 Bloomberg
Research from North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University shows that passing wireless power transfer through a magnetic resonance field enhancer (MRFE) — which can be as simple as a copper loop — can boost the transfer efficiency by at least 100 percent as compared to transferring through air alone. MRFE use could potentially boost transfer efficiency by as much as 5,000 percent in some systems, experts say.
As Craft Beer Industry Grows, Iowa Farmers Are Noticing

07/26/15 Bloomberg
Diana Cochran, an assistant professor of horticulture at Iowa State University and fruit specialist at ISU Extension and Outreach, is studying the agricultural potential for a hops industry in this state. She began her research last fall in response to the high [number] of inquiries she was getting from farmers interested in learning about the crop.

Can Wooden Skyscrapers Revive US Timber Industry? Washington, Oregon, USDA Betting They Can Fuel Demand

07/24/15 International Business Times
Right now, DR Johnson Lumber Co. and Oregon State University are building a prototype CLT manufacturing plant nearby in Oregon.

Going Green: Microalgae As a Feedstuff for Grower Steers

07/21/15 Science Daily
Harnessing the adaptive power of algae is a relatively new research field. Engineers across the country have developed algal biofuels, food additives and skincare products. Livestock scientists see its potential as a sustainable, high-energy feedstuff as well as a protein supplement. Amongst those scientists are Dr. Megan Van Emon, Assistant Professor at Montana State University, Dr. Daniel Loy, Professor of Animal Science at Iowa State University and Dr. Stephanie Hansen, Assistant Professor at Iowa State University. Their paper, "Determining the preference, in vitro digestibility, in situ disappearance, and grower period performance of steers fed a novel algae meal derived from heterotrophic microalgae," is featured in June's issue of the Journal of Animal Science.

Insulin Resistance Increases Risk For Alzheimer's Disease, Study Finds

07/27/15 Science Daily
The fact that obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers is well known. But a new Iowa State University study adds to the growing evidence that memory loss should also be a top concern.

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.

One highlight from this week's Funding Connection:
National Science Foundation seeks Engineering Research Center proposals that integrate research and education with technological innovation to achieve significant science and technology outcomes through 10 years of NSF support. Workforce development and industry participation are key features of these centers.

Check out this week's new funding opportunities.

RSCAD Trending Topics

Humanities for All

For academics, the information in books designed for general consumption can be too basic. On the other hand, academic books aren't exactly appealing to the general public. A new grant program at the National Endowment for the Humanities hopes to bridge that gap. The first recipients of the Public Scholars program are being announced today, in an attempt to present more research in the humanities to the general public. Professors who do serious scholarship are receiving grants to help them on book projects intended for more than just academics.

Researchers Open Repository for ‘Dark Data’

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are leading an effort to create a one-stop shop for data sets that would otherwise be lost to the public after the papers they were produced for are published. The goal of the project, called DataBridge, is to expand the life cycle of so-called dark data, said Arcot Rajasekar, the lead principal investigator on the project and a professor in the School of Information and Library Science at Chapel Hill. It will serve as an archive for data sets and metadata, and will group them into clusters of information to make relevant data easier to find.

Boom in Academic Poaching Is Fueled by Visions of Economic Development

Sean J. Morrison, professor of pediatrics: $10 million. James P. Allison, professor of immunology: $10 million. Nancy A. Jenkins and Neal G. Copeland, deans of cancer biology and genetics: $7.5 million each. Such are the hefty recruiting packages that lured four researchers — along with their labs and staffs — to Texas. They’ve joined 80 other leading cancer researchers who have moved to Texas’ universities and institutes over the past five years thanks to a $250-million state-aided spending spree on science superstars. It’s part of a strategy to make Texas a clear leader in studying cancer — to attack one of humanity’s most devastating diseases and, hopefully, to bolster the state’s economy in the process. Key goals include creating jobs and raising the quality of Texas’ research universities, said Wayne R. Roberts, chief executive officer of the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, a state-chartered agency known as Cprit.

Society Asks NIH to Act Now to Lessen Biomed Scientist Glut

The authors of a new report urging changes in training the U.S. biomedical workforce say they were motivated by a desire for “less talk, more action.” But their prescription for how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should deal with a glut of young scientists demonstrates why the problem has been so hard to solve.

The Genesis Engine

The technique is revolutionary, and like all revolutions, it's perilous. Crispr goes well beyond anything the Asilomar conference discussed. It could at last allow genetics researchers to conjure everything anyone has ever worried they would—designer babies, invasive mutants, species-specific bioweapons, and a dozen other apocalyptic sci-fi tropes. It brings with it all-new rules for the practice of research in the life sciences. But no one knows what the rules are—or who will be the first to break them.

The Importance of Writing Skills in Tech-Related Fields 

How is it that students interested in careers in technology don’t understand that writing skills are a crucial part of their future success? What’s more, in my life as a writing coach, I’ve noticed that this aversion sometimes extends well past the undergraduate years and into the master’s and Ph.D. levels. In an effort to underscore the importance of effective writing skills, I interviewed three professionals at the top of their tech games. I asked them each to reflect on their own writing, on the importance of writing well, and on the role of effective communication skills in their fields. All three of them agreed: Writing skills not only matter in a tech career, they matter a lot. They are important both in routine day-to-day tasks at a tech company and in terms of the big picture – like the ability to sell an idea in order to get funding.

Researchers Retract Study Claiming Marriages Fail More Often When Wife Falls Ill

A study that suggested marriages are more likely to fail when the wife falls ill — than if she is healthy — has been retracted this week due to a coding error in the research.