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

August 20, 2015

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

K-State in the News

Researchers Work on Possible Diesel Replacement

08/16/15 Huffington Post
Researchers from Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska are modifying an oilseed for use as a potential diesel replacement. Their work on Camelina sativa is focused on lowering its viscosity — essentially, its resistance to flowing. Plant oils typically have a high enough viscosity that they build up in engines, limiting their use as petroleum product replacement, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. But researchers may have solved the viscosity problem, said Tim Durrett, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Kansas State University, who is working on the project with experts from Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

HVAC Products Attack Airborne Bacteria Responsible For Pathogenic Contaminants Such As Legionnaires' Disease

08/17/15 Yahoo! Finance
RGF Environmental Group, headquartered in Riviera Beach, said a recent study conducted by Kansas State University shows a 99%+ kill rate of legionella when treated by RGF's Pan Saver. 

5 Things We Learned From the 'Point of No Return' Climate Solutions AMA

08/14/15 Houston Chronicle (via Rolling Stone)
"I would also add that 'awareness' is a key step forward. Talk about these issues with friends and families," said Kansas State University grasslands ecologist Dr. Jesse Nippert, adding, "Engagement with others also has more relevance when it's local – notice/record 'small things' in your community like changes in plant phenology (first flower, leaf drop), first freeze/thaw dates, rainfall amounts, etc….[C]itizen science has been a HUGE movement and source of invaluable data recording climate change."

Controlling Unwanted Bermuda and Zoysia Grasses
08/13/15 Kansas City Star
Researchers at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with colleagues at Iowa State University and Texas Tech University, have discovered a novel fatigue syndrome affecting feedlot cattle. The syndrome is similar to one affecting the swine industry.
Beef Cattle Institute Collaborates with Merck Animal Health to Produce Educational Modules

08/11/15 AgWeb
The Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) at Kansas State University, in conjunction with Merck Animal Health, has released the first module in the CreatingConnections Educational Series, which features industry experts who share insights and proven techniques to help ensure low-stress cattle handling. This module, now available at CreatingConnections, focuses on acclimation—specifically how to best help cattle adjust and thrive in a new environment, which is critical to the health and well being of an animal.

From Our Peers

Elastic Drug Delivery Technology Releases Drugs When Stretched

08/11/15 Bloomberg
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a drug delivery technology that consists of an elastic patch that can be applied to the skin and will release drugs whenever the patch is stretched. For example, if applied to the elbow, the patch would release a drug when the elbow bends and stretches the patch.   

When Fruit Flies Get Sick, Their Offspring Become More Diverse
08/14/15 Bloomberg
New research from North Carolina State University and Reed College shows that when fruit flies are attacked by parasites or bacteria they respond by producing offspring with greater genetic variability. This extra genetic variability may give the offspring an increased chance of survival when faced with the same pathogens. These findings demonstrate that parents may purposefully alter the genotypes of their offspring.
Scientists Create a Healthier Peanut

08/12/15 Yahoo! Health
If you’ve been puzzling over ways to get more oleic acid into your body, the USDA has just come through. In a joint venture with Oklahoma State University, the agency has released a brand-new peanut that’s said to boast a richer flavor, health benefits, and resistance to crop disease, Modern Farmer reports. The new legume, a type of Spanish peanut, is called OLé and is the result of a sophisticated “pedigree methodology” that tapped into an “advanced breeding line” to create a peanut that would be more resistant to Sclerotinia blight and pod rot.

Here’s What Actually Gets Terrorists To Tell The Truth — And It’s Not Torture

08/16/15 BuzzFeed News
Since 2010, the HIG [High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group] has also backed researchers working to transform the science of interrogation. The effort has been coordinated by Christian Meissner, a psychologist at Iowa State University in Ames, who empathically rejects what he calls the “anxiety model” of interrogation.

Toxic Algae Is Contaminating Our Water Supply

08/15/15 Business Insider
To date, no testing for cyanobacteria is mandated in the United States at either the state or federal level, nor is the reporting of cyanobacteria illness outbreaks required. Worldwide, based on information from the World Health Organization (WHO), routine monitoring or screening programs are few and far between. But researchers at Oregon State University and the University of North Carolina say changes in the climate and land use, as well as the increasing toxicity of the bacteria, may force health officials to take a closer look at the issue. In January, the researchers published a paper outlining the cyanobacteria problem. The research was backed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation.

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.

Highlight from this week's Funding Connection:
The National Science Foundation issued an announcement concerning Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water (INFEWS) specifically requesting research on fertilizer use/production and on nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in the environment.  The detection, separation, and reclamation/recycling of these elements in and from complex aqueous environments is also of interest.

Check out this week's new funding opportunities.

RSCAD Trending Topics

U.S. Scientists Speak Out About The Need For Fetal Tissue In Research

The furor on Capitol Hill over Planned Parenthood has stoked a debate about the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research, but U.S. scientists have been using such cells for decades to develop vaccines and seek treatments for a host of ailments, from vision loss to cancer and AIDS. Anti-abortion activists triggered the uproar by releasing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials that raised questions of whether the organization was profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has denied making any profit and said it charges fees solely to cover its costs. University laboratories that buy such cells strongly defend their research, saying tissue that would otherwise be thrown out has played a vital role in lifesaving medical advances and holds great potential for further breakthroughs.

Video Fallout

The videos have, however, drawn attention to a reality many researchers don't much talk about: they depend on fetal tissue for many studies, and much of this fetal tissue comes from suppliers that obtain it from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Now, some prominent researchers and research organizations are speaking out about why these studies matter, and are calling for those who care about biomedical research to defend Planned Parenthood.

Montmartre vs. M.F.A.

Today’s graduate art students share with the Montmartre artists a longing to be in a serious art community that’s less alienating than society at large, as well as a desire for some kind of cushion against the ruling art world. The hope of serious attention — from collectors buying art, dealers and curators organizing exhibitions, influential critics, and even conversations with peers — has been, self-expression notwithstanding, the prime motivator of modern artists, especially younger ones. For many of them, mustering out of graduate school means exiting a world of continual art conversation and entering one where no one knowledgeable is paid to look at, and comment on, their work.

Greek Bailout Set to Free Up Research Funds

When the banks closed in Greece at the start of July, Vassilis Gorgoulis, a cancer researcher at the University of Athens, was poised to start experiments that journal referees had requested for a high-profile paper. To his horror, he was unable to buy the items he needed because money could no longer be sent out of the country. “I was lucky,” he says. “My collaborators at the University of Manchester ordered them for me and sent me the kits I needed.” Greek scientists who do not have collaborators abroad are finding it even harder to carry on doing experiments. The constraints on the flow of capital come on top of massive budget and salary cuts in the five years since Greece’s debt crisis began. And they are accompanied by a stultifying increase in bureaucracy because all public spending in the country has come under intense scrutiny (see Nature 517, 127–128; 2015).

What Wikipedia Edits Can Tell Us About the Politicization of Science

Likens and University at Buffalo ecologist Adam Wilson find that “global warming” and “evolution” get way more edits than entries on other scientific issues. That’s presumably in part because on these contentious topics, science doubters are constantly trying to get their point of view through, even as other Wikipedia editors steadily push back. But the research also showed that the “acid rain” entry got more edits, and had more words changed, than entries on scientific topics that either are not controversial at all, or haven’t been controversial in an extremely long time (in one case, hundreds of years): “heliocentrism,” “general relativity,” “continental drift,” and the “standard model” in physics.