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Research

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

October 8, 2015

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

K-State in the News

Panel of Agriculture and Rural Industry Experts Announced to Evaluate Outstanding Rural Leaders

09/29/15 Houston Chronicle
Farm Credit has identified 21 individuals to serve on the selection panel for Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives — a nationwide search to identify and honor 100 leaders who are changing the future of rural communities and agriculture for the better. The initiative is part of Farm Credit’s efforts to commemorate its upcoming centennial in July 2016. The selection panel includes experts on rural matters with diverse perspectives and skill sets, including some from Farm Credit and others from across agricultural and rural industries. ... The full selection panel includes: ... John Floros, College of Agriculture dean and director, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

Favorable Conditions Help Spawn Oak Leaf Itch Mite Boom

09/29/15 Washington Times
People in the Kansas City region may soon feel the bite as favorable weather and environmental conditions have led to a boom in the oak leaf itch mite population. According to horticulture agent Dennis Patton, The Kansas State Extension office reports that it has fielded its highest number of mite-related calls in 10 years. The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1P3NSZ4) reports that horticulture agent Dennis Patton has described the reproduction levels as hitting “epidemic proportions.”
“It’s just the year,” added Bob Bauernfeind, Kansas State University entomologist in Manhattan. “The mites were big in 2004 and 2005, and then there were nine years in between with not a peep about them.”

Are Those Gloves Clean? What to Know About the Hands Handling Your Food

10/05/15 Today.com
A recent blog post titled "Hold the Bacteria: Made to Order Disease," by medical anthropologist Sydney Ross Singer, says that while gloves are meant to prevent food contamination through dirty hands, clean gloves are often dirtied when workers put them on with unclean hands. ... Londa Nwadike, a food safety specialist at Kansas State University and the University of Missouri, agreed with the gist of Singer's post.
"Sometimes I feel like people think that gloves are what we'd say are a 'magic bullet' — once you have gloves on everything is fine," she said. "The gloves are only as clean as what's on the outside of the gloves. Workers still have to use good hand hygiene. You definitely have to wash your hands."

Healthy food initiative catching on in Kansas hospitals 

10/05/15 Kansas Health Institute
Hospitals aren't typically associated with fine dining. And even though hospitals are in the business of health care, the beverages and foods they offer — especially when the cafeteria is closed — often lean more toward junk food than healthy fare. But a group of Kansas hospitals is out to change that.
... Changes caused a slight drop in sales at first, but vending machine revenues quickly returned to their previous level. That reinforces dietitian Linda Yarrow’s view that, over time, people will come to appreciate having healthier food options. Yarrow is an assistant professor of nutrition at Kansas State University. “The public is becoming more and more aware, because they know that obesity and overweight is a problem,” Yarrow says. “Everybody can name somebody that’s got diabetes or high blood pressure. And I am seeing people becoming more interested in maybe what can I do as a preventive measure, instead of waiting until they’re diagnosed.”

China Slowdown May Squeeze Midwest Soybean Farmers

10/01/15 Harvest Public Media
The devalued Chinese yuan makes U.S. exports more expensive. There’s a lot of money at stake. American farmers are the world’s largest soybean exporters and China is by far the largest buyer. China buys other stuff from U.S. farmers too – wheat, corn, milo, cotton — but the value of soybean exports, about $14 billion last year, dwarfs all the others combined. If that market collapsed it would trigger a huge global decline in soy prices. But Jay O’Neil, an economist with the International Grains Program at Kansas State University, says he doesn’t think soybean exports are all that threatened by the Chinese economic downturn. “It scares me more regarding my 401(k) retirement program than it does about agricultural exports,” O’Neil said.

From Our Peers

Researchers Create First Entropy-Stabilized Complex Oxide Alloys

09/29/15 Bloomberg
Researchers from North Carolina State University and Duke University have created the first entropy-stabilized alloy that incorporates oxides — and demonstrated conclusively that the crystalline structure of the material can be determined by disorder at the atomic scale rather than chemical bonding.

Researchers Disguise Drugs As Platelets to Target Cancer
09/29/15 Bloomberg
Researchers have for the first time developed a technique that coats anticancer drugs in membranes made from a patient's own platelets, allowing the drugs to last longer in the body and attack both primary cancer tumors and the circulating tumor cells that can cause a cancer to metastasize. The work was tested successfully in an animal model.
"There are two key advantages to using platelet membranes to coat anticancer drugs," says Zhen Gu, corresponding author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "First, the surface of cancer cells has an affinity for platelets - they stick to each other. Second, because the platelets come from the patient's own body, the drug carriers aren't identified as foreign objects, so last longer in the bloodstream."
'Narcos' Netflix Release Helping Streaming Service Expand To Latin America

09/29/15 International Business Times
Two hundred countries by 2017 — that’s Netflix’s stated goal for global expansion, and last month it unveiled its secret weapon: "Narcos," a crime drama told in both English and Spanish and designed to appeal to audiences in the U.S. and across Latin America. ... “It’s like colonization,” said Dr. Danny Shipka, assistant professor at Oklahoma State University School of Media and Strategic Communications. “Netflix is trying to colonize the world before anyone else does.”

Big Gulp: Feeding Strategy of Blue Whales Revealed

10/02/15 Yahoo!
"The whales are much more actively assessing their environment and taking advantage of prey in ways that were unknown before, to maximize energy gain," added ecologist Ari Friedlaender of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute. 

Possible Ancestor to Black Death Discovered in Fossilized Flea

09/29/15 New York Post
A microscopic discovery may soon offer a peak into prehistoric pestilence– a possible ancestor of the Black Death has been discovered on a fossilized flea. The flea, who bit it about 20 million years ago, was preserved in amber, and the bacteria in question was found on the flea’s proboscis, researchers at Oregon State University said Monday. Further inspection by scientists revealed that the bacterial fossils are the same size and shape of modern plague bacteria.

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 Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence seeks proposals in four areas to help researchers compete for National Institute of Health funds: Bridging Grants offering interim support to submit a revised NIH application, Partnership Awards initiating translational projects, Developmental Awards providing funding and mentoring for new investigators, and Posdoctoral Awards facilitating a one-year research project or transition to early investigator status. 
Check out this week's new funding opportunities. 

RSCAD Trending Topics

NIH Invests $85 Million for BRAIN Initiative Research

The National Institutes of Health announced its second wave of grants to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, bringing the NIH investment to $85 million in fiscal year 2015. Sixty-seven new awards, totaling more than $38 million, will go to 131 investigators working at 125 institutions in the United States and eight other countries. These awards expand NIH’s efforts to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in action. Projects include proposals to develop soft self-driving electrodes, ultrasound methods for measuring brain activity and the use of deep brain stimulation to treat traumatic brain injuries.

Immigrants Play Increasing Role in U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce

From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the U.S. rose from 21.6 million to 29 million. An important factor in that increase: over the same time period, the number of immigrant scientists and engineers went from 3.4 million to 5.2 million. Immigrants went from making up 16 percent of the science and engineering workforce to 18 percent, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). In 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available, 63 percent of U.S. immigrant scientists and engineers were naturalized citizens, while 22 percent were permanent residents and 15 percent were temporary visa holders.

Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald Share Nobel in Physics for Work on Neutrinos

Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur B. McDonald of Queen’s University in Ontario were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for discovering that the enigmatic subatomic particles known as neutrinos have mass. Their experiments rewrote the balance sheet of the universe. Neutrinos were once thought to be massless, but decades of study have led astronomers to conclude that their collective weight in the cosmos is about equal to the collective weight of stars.

India Unveils Climate-Change Pledge Ahead of Global Talks

India says that it will produce 40% of its energy from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030, and will reduce the intensity of its carbon dioxide emissions by roughly one-third. The country’s highly anticipated announcement on 2 October comes ahead of United Nations talks in Paris this December, at which nations hope to reach an updated agreement to fight climate change.

‘I Got Nobody’: Scholars of Gun Violence Describe Their Lonely Battles

The painful and predictable pattern has started all over again. A mass shooting at a college campus — this time, Umpqua Community College, in Oregon — followed by various accounts of the victims’ violent end and speculation about the shooter’s motive. Then the public and political debate, or what passes for debate, on a topic that seems to divide the country so deeply. Most of the news-media focus is on the studied pronouncements of political candidates, but what about the voices of those who actually study the causes of — and possible solutions to — gun violence? Are they frustrated at the tenor of the public debate or the lack of political will to change policy? 

Scientists Create World’s Largest Catalog of Human Genomic Variation

An international team of scientists from the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium has created the world’s largest catalog of genomic differences among humans, providing researchers with powerful clues to help them establish why some people are susceptible to various diseases. While most differences in peoples’ genomes — called variants — are harmless, some are beneficial, while others contribute to diseases and conditions, ranging from cognitive disabilities to susceptibilities to cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other disorders. Understanding how genomic variants contribute to disease may help clinicians develop improved diagnostics and treatments, in addition to new methods of prevention.