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

December 10, 2015

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

Announcements from the Office of the Vice President for Research

First quarter award results are in!

K-State faculty submitted a record number of proposals during fiscal year (FY) 2015. First quarter FY2016 (July 1–September 30, 2015) activity shows that this effort is resulting in positive outcomes: Faculty garnered 382 awards totaling $36,694,579 during this period, which is an increase over first-quarter FY2015 figures (243 awards for $27,689,191). A full report will be posted soon; we’ll share the link next week. Congratulations to the many researchers who contributed to this success! Please contact Paul Lowe at plowe@ksu.edu or 2-6804 if you have questions.

K-State in the News

Monsanto Takes Action to Fight Climate Change with Carbon Neutral Crop Production Program

12/01/15 Bloomberg
"This program is a critical step in the agriculture's overall effort to mitigate climate change," said Dr. Chuck Rice, Distinguished Professor, Kansas State University and an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. "The recent IPCC report indicated that agriculture is a significant pathway to mitigating greenhouse gases. Similar to other formalized carbon offset and renewable energy credit programs, organizations have started to invest in verified offsets originating from agricultural activities. Agriculture can be a positive force in the fight against climate change, and it's important to see Monsanto stepping forward in this way."

Novel Pestivirus Affecting Swine Discovered by Researchers

12/02/15 Science Daily
Researchers at Kansas State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have discovered a virus that's been a real pest for pigs and hope the diagnostic tests they've developed to detect the virus are a step toward understanding the disease. The researchers identified the virus as a member of the aptly name pestivirus family. A sample submitted to the lab by a veterinarian in North Carolina came from a swine herd where uncontrollable shaking, or intention tremors, was observed and resulted in the death of nearly 700 pigs.

Method for Higher Purity in Wheat Flour Developed

12/03/15 Science Daily
Kansas State University researchers have developed a new testing method to help millers assure wheat flour purity that will meet baking industry standards and consumers' expectations. The test introduces sophisticated molecular methods that focus on high endosperm purity in flour extracted from wheat kernels.

Kansas Seeks Bigger Piece of Growing Pet Food Market

12/05/15 Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas is well-known for producing beef and wheat to feed humans, but some see an opportunity to take the lead in the growing pet food market. Greg Aldrich, a research associate professor of grain science and industry at Kansas State University, has been developing its pet food programs since 2011, with an emphasis on innovation. This year the students helped develop a new gummy treat, similar to the Swedish Fish and Gummy Bears humans enjoy, and hosted about 200 people in the pet food industry at a Petfood Innovation Workshop in late October.

From Our Peers

Study: Kids From High Socioeconomic Background More Likely to Rely on Parental Help as Young Adults

12/01/15 Bloomberg
Research from North Carolina State University finds that more than 40 percent of young adults no longer live with their parents, but still receive at least some financial support from mom and dad — and this is particularly true for grown children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. The bad news for college students is that attending a four-year educational institution makes them more likely to rely on parental financial support - but the good news is that attending college also makes them more likely to become completely independent over time.

Scientists Have Developed A Way to Create Diamonds Without High Heat or Pressure

12/02/15 Yahoo!
A third phase of carbon has been discovered, and from it researchers have been able to produce diamonds at room temperature and standard pressure. Its real-world existence is thought to be rare though, found only at the core of some planets. Researchers at North Carolina State University made the discovery, and call it "Q-Carbon."

Researchers Detail How To Control Shape, Structure of DNA and RNA

11/11/15 Bloomberg
Researchers at North Carolina State University have used computational modelling to shed light on precisely how charged gold nanoparticles influence the structure of DNA and RNA — which may lead to new techniques for manipulating these genetic materials.

Photonic 'Sintering' May Create New Solar, Electronics Manufacturing Technologies

12/01/15 Science Daily
Engineers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental breakthrough in understanding the physics of photonic "sintering," which could lead to many new advances in solar cells, flexible electronics, various types of sensors and other high-tech products printed onto something as simple as a sheet of paper or plastic. Sintering is the fusing of nanoparticles to form a solid, functional thin-film that can be used for many purposes, and the process could have considerable value for new technologies.

Breakthrough Imaging Tool Maps Cells' Composition in 3-D

12/07/15 Science Daily
A one-of-a-kind instrument built at Colorado State University lets scientists map cellular composition in three dimensions at the nanoscale, allowing researchers to watch how cells respond to new medications at the most minute level ever observed. The new mass-spectral imaging system is the first of its kind in the world, and its applications are just beginning to surface, said Carmen Menoni, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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 Department of Commerce seeks projects that strengthen the public’s and/or K-12 students’ environmental literacy to enable informed decision-making necessary for community resilience to extreme weather events and other environmental hazards. Projects should focus on geographic awareness and an understanding of Earth systems and the threats and vulnerabilities that are associated with a community’s location.

RSCAD Trending Topics

For Researchers, Risk Is a Vanishing Luxury

A basic mission of the American research university is eroding, Dr. Ness now says in her latest book, The Creativity Crisis. The U.S. government chose universities as the home for high-risk research after World War II, due to their tolerance for science that might fail or produce elusive returns. Since then, though, the American scientific system has evolved to where, at almost every level — university hiring and promotion; publishing; the awarding of government grants — predictability is prized over boldness. Just as it’s become more difficult to express provocative or risky views on campuses, the research conducted there has grown more conservative. It’s a trend that began decades ago, as universities came to rely on, and shape, federal grants from agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, which provide a majority of the country’s research dollars. The flat financing of the past decade has only made it worse.

Researchers Observe Effects of Art on the Brain

When it comes to art, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but some scientists now are looking for it in bursts of brain waves. Seeking a biological basis for our response to art, researchers from the University of Houston recorded the electrical brain activity from 431 gallery visitors last year as they explored an exhibit of works by conceptual artist Dario Robleto at the Menil Collection, near downtown Houston. In the low-voltage sizzle of so much neural buzz, the scientists are trying to find how our brains mix sensory impressions of color, texture and shape with memory, meaning, and emotion into an aesthetic judgment of artworks that, at their best, can be both universal and intensely personal. “This is about emotion, about brain patterns, about individuality,” said university computer engineer Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, who is conducting the research funded by the National Science Foundation. “We don’t know the neural basis for art. The hope is that there will be a common element.”

Grants Resource Center Funding Competitiveness Conference, February 17-20, 2016

This event provides an exclusive forum for research and sponsored program officers, senior administrators and faculty to connect with funders, area experts and colleagues from across the country. The conference features numerous targeted sessions with federal agency and private foundation program officers, structured networking events, and private consultations with program officers.  It is open to both GRC members and non-members. The February 2016 conference will be held at the Sofitel Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Early bird conference registration rates are available through January 31, 2016.

Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2014

The Survey of Earned Doctorates, the data source for this report, is an annual census of individuals who receive research doctoral degrees from accredited U.S. academic institutions. The survey is sponsored by six federal agencies: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Education. These data are reported in several publications from NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The most comprehensive and widely cited publication is this report, Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities. This report calls attention to important trends in doctoral education, organized into themes highlighting important questions about doctorate recipients. 

Lab Staple Agar Hit by Seaweed Shortage

Microbiology’s most important reagent is in short supply, with potential consequences for research, public health and clinical labs around the world. Agar — the seaweed-derived, gelatinous substance that biologists use to culture microbes — is experiencing a global downturn, marine biologists, agar producers and industry analysts told Nature. “There’s not enough seaweed for everyone, so basically we are now reducing our production,” says Pedro Sanchez, deputy managing director of Industrias Roko in Polígono de Silvota, Spain, which processes seaweed to make some 40% of the world’s agar.