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Research

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

February 11, 2016

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

Announcements from the Office of the Vice President for Research

Notes From the Desk of the iVPR

One month into the role as iVPR, and the dust is finally getting blown off the suitcase. I visited our federal delegation members and staff with President Schulz and other campus leaders to discuss prospects for NBAF, explore partnerships with several key stakeholders, and build a good rapport with the undersecretary of DHS. I felt a bit like Mr. Smith sometimes. There continues to be excitement on the Hill and in Washington for the critical national laboratory under construction here. On the same trip, I was able to co-lead a workshop on leadership development for chemists and physicists that was sponsored by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the American Chemical Society, and the American Physical Society.

I have also been working with KSU Research Foundation and KSU Innovation Center leaders to identify opportunities to improve our technology transfer operations and engage corporate partners in helping K-State researchers bring their inventions to the people of Kansas.  We have a ready quiver of exciting technologies and ideas looking for a path to market.  

Thank you to all our campus members whom I have met so far to hear about research accomplishments and challenges. I remain confident that K-State continues to make a difference through its land-grant mission of research and extension, with a talent base that I would put up against any aspirational peer.

The ink is barely dry on the 2016 federal spending bill (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6268/10), and already the gloves are coming off for the 2017 bill (see Trending Topics, below). VP Biden is promoting a “cancer moonshot” infusion of funding into NIH. Nevertheless, this bright and shining news comes with its own political challenges. So I say, stay vigilant, all you Jefferson Smiths in Washington, and stay true to your values to support funding for research (apologies to Frank Capra).

— Peter

Registration Reminder

We are pleased to be hosting a National Endowment for the Humanities Regional Application-Writing Workshop on March 9. Find more information and register to attend

Three-Minute Thesis

This blazing competition is next week! Preliminary heats are Feb. 16, and finals are at 7:00 p.m. Feb. 17. Find out more (such as who is competing from your department or college!)

National Institutes of Health Training Module

“NIH Policy: Enhancing Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency” is available here

Seeking Undergrad RSCAD

Crossing Borders: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Scholarship seeks to encourage interdisciplinary research among undergraduate students at Kansas State University. The journal accepts work in a variety of formats, including case studies, reports, book reviews, field notes, and articles. Encourage your students to publish their work!

New Funding Opportunities

NSF INFEWS submitters  or interested partiesNSF 16-523 invites proposals that seeks Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water system. The NSF INFEWS initiative is designed to significantly advance understanding of the food-energy-water system through quantitative and computational modeling; develop real-time, cyber-enabled interfaces that improve understanding of the behavior of FEW systems; enable research that will lead to solutions to critical FEW problems; and grow the workforce capable of studying and managing the FEW system. Proposals are due March 22, 2016, with budgets up to $3 million for five years. If you are considering a submission, please contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at orsp@ksu.edu. We can help with idea development, team formation, activity coordination, and draft review. 

NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC)  support interdisciplinary materials research and education and promote active collaboration between universities and other sectors including industry and international institutions. The solicitations for these centers are released every three years. NSF anticipates releasing the next solicitation sometime in early April. Funding for these centers typically ranges from $2 to $5 million per year for up to six years. K-State will be limited to one MRSEC submission; an internal competition will be held shortly after the solicitation is published. If you are interested in developing a MRSEC preproposal, please contact ORSP (orsp@ksu.edu). Proposal development for the team selected to represent K-State will be supported by ORSP staff.

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 Defense released the Army Research for the Behavioral and Social Sciences’ FY16 Foundational Science Research Unit Broad Agency Announcement that supports behavioral and social science research addressing personnel, organization, training, and leader development issues to help improve Army readiness and performance. This specific BAA focuses on basic research designed to expand fundamental knowledge and discover general principles in the behavioral and social sciences. Both standard and early-career proposals are accepted.

K-State in the News

Zika is the Next Front in the Mosquito Wars

2/04/16 MSN.com and Bloomberg
The pattern of other mosquito-borne illnesses suggests Zika will be costly in a variety of ways. The number of years lost due to ill health, disability, or early death, “not to mention the huge cost to health-care systems, is very substantial,” says Stephen Higgs, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene and the director of the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University.

Do Millennials REALLY Care? 

2/08/16 Daily Mail and Science Daily
The majority of millennials may not be putting their money where their mouths are when selecting chocolate, according to a Kansas State University expert in psychological sciences. Despite strong preferences for ethical chocolate in focus groups, only 14 percent of millennials in individual choice studies selected candy with ethical or social factors labeling — such as organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, non-GMO and Fair Trade — according to a study by Michael Young, professor and head of the university's psychological sciences department.

What's Their Beef? US Meat to Lose Country Labels

2/03/16 Bloomberg
One of the groups that headed the opposition to COOL from the outset was the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA). "We're supportive of consumers' right to know," Ross Wilson, the TCFA's president and CEO, told Al Jazeera during an interview at its Amarillo headquarters. Wilson said that there is no documentation showing that COOL incentivised the purchase of US beef, and points to a 2012 Kansas State University study that found "demand for covered meat products has not been impacted by COOL implementation."

The Money Issues That Drive Couples Apart In Every State

2/03/16 Huffington Post
In 2013, researchers out of Kansas State University found that couples who argued about money early on in their relationships — regardless of their income, debt or net worth — were at a greater risk for divorce than others. "Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce," the study's lead researcher, Sonya Britt, said of the findings. "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money — for both men and women."

Taste Coffee Like a Pro With This Gorgeous Flavor Wheel

2/03/16 Wired
As language evolves and new terms enter the mainstream, teenagers are often blamed for debasing linguistic standards. In some cases, their preferred forms of communication—like text messaging—are attackedBut, teens don’t actually influence language as much as is often claimed. That’s one of the key findings in the latest linguistic research by Mary Kohn, an assistant professor of English at Kansas State University. How much a person’s vernacular changes over time may have as much to do with personality and social standing as it has to do with age. The extent to which teenagers are credited with (or blamed for) driving lasting change to language is, she says, “grossly overstated.” The same factors that prompt teens to experiment with new language are applicable to people at many stages of life.

High-Tech Toys Could Stagnate Babies' Communication Skills

2/03/16 Science Daily
"Even as toddlers, you don't want to isolate children from each other," said Kansas State University assistant professor Bradford Wiles. "What you want are things that can be shared that involve a dialogue back and forth with peers and especially with adults."

It’s great to see K-State on these lists: 

USDA Awards 35 Food Safety Grants, Including $3.4 Million for Antimicrobial Resistance, to Protect Consumers and 
USDA Awards More Than $15 Million to Support Plant Production Research

From Our Peers

Antiperspirant Alters the Microbial Ecosystem On Your Skin

2/02/16 Bloomberg
Wearing antiperspirant or deodorant doesn't just affect your social life, it substantially changes the microbial life that lives on you. New research finds that antiperspirant and deodorant can significantly influence both the type and quantity of bacterial life found in the human armpit's "microbiome." The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Central University, Rutgers University and Duke University.

Researchers Sequence Bedbug Genome, Find Unique Features

2/03/16 Bloomberg
In a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers tease apart the genomic framework of Cimex lectularius, the common bedbug, and report some of the unique features leading to some of the insect's most reviled and bedeviling characteristics. The findings will lead to further study of some of these attributes to learn more about how to disarm the ubiquitous pest, says Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State and a co-leader of the bedbug genome sequencing project.

Study: Rethinking How to Use Farmland

2/05/16 Bloomberg 
A new Iowa State University study shows significant portions of Iowa farmland lose money in the current era of low commodity prices and high input costs. The research may help farmers make more informed decisions about land use and perhaps get them to consider environmentally friendly alternatives to corn and soybeans, said Elke Brandes, a postdoctoral research associate in agronomy and lead author of the study.

The Tiny Critters Beneath Our Feet Keep Us Healthy

2/03/16 Yahoo!
Diana Wall has spent so much time studying soil in Antarctica that there’s a region, Wall Valley, named after her. The soil ecologist and professor at Colorado State University has gotten to know soil pretty well, yet she continues to learn about ways in which healthy soil is important not just for good agriculture but for entire ecosystems and, increasingly, for human health. Last November, a few weeks before departing for her latest research trip, Wall published a paper highlighting examples of the link between soil health and human health. Strongyloides, for instance, are parasites that can penetrate human skin and reproduce in the intestine. Researchers found higher rates of infection in areas of Cambodia where there was a loss of organic carbon in soils that had been converted from forest to agriculture.

Researchers Link 'Housekeeping' Gene with Male Infertility

2/02/16 Science Daily
Researchers at Iowa State University have found evidence that a "housekeeping" gene present in every cell of the body may have a link to male infertility. Ravindra Singh, a professor of biomedical sciences in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, has studied the survival motor neuron (SMN) gene for years. A deficiency in the gene, known as a "housekeeping" gene because its presence is essential for basic cellular function, can lead to neurological problems such as spinal muscular atrophy.

Regrowing Rain Forests May Help Curb Climate Change More Than We Thought

2/05/16 Huffington Post
This data allowed the researchers not only to build the map, but also to analyze how much carbon secondary forests can take up -- which turned out to be more than expected, said Dr. Saara J. DeWalt, an associate professor of biological sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina and a co-author of the study. "I was very surprised by how quickly secondary forests uptake carbon," DeWalt told HuffPost. "Younger forests capture more carbon because the trees are actively growing and are quickly converting carbon into leaves and wood. Growth of trees in older forests is much slower because of more limited space, sunlight and nutrients." 

RSCAD Trending Topics

Budget 2017: Read Our Roundup of Obama's Science Funding Requests

Here are some dispatches from the front lines of the budget wars.

Primary Truth: How the Presidential Candidates Get Science Wrong

Science isn’t partisan—it’s an organized process that tests ideas and ultimately builds a fact-based knowledge about the world around us. It’s self-correcting, and the truths it uncovers are apart from political influence. The electorate seems to recognize that: A 2015 study that looked at the responses of 2,000 registered voters found that most are happy to defer to science for public-policy issues, regardless of whether they’re Republican, Democrat, or Independent. The trouble comes when science is misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented by those with a podium. We’ve seen that on both sides of the aisle.

In a Crisis-Stricken City, A Public University Searches for Its Role

The story of Flint’s water crisis has become a national story about decline, neglect, and, now, atonement. How did it take so long for state and local governments to acknowledge that an entire city was being poisoned? What, if anything, can be done to reverse the damage? Those questions face the Flint campus along with the rest of the city. The regional university, with just over 8,000 students, grew by more than 30 percent in the decade before the water crisis, as workers laid off by an auto industry in free fall sought retraining. This winter, as it stands at ground zero of a public-health disaster, enrollment has dipped. Its leaders have called in communications experts from the university’s flagship campus, in Ann Arbor, to help ease the fears of current and future students. The Flint campus also faces fallout of a different kind. The bad water has eroded not only the city’s physical infrastructure but also its trust in public institutions. Some activists see the university as yet another complacent bureaucracy that failed to protect them.

Shakespeare's Badass Quarto

The provenance of the Bad Quarto has long been shrouded in mystery, but a clash of two new theories reopens questions about Hamlet as a play, Hamlet as a character, and Shakespeare as an artist. Specifically did Shakespeare write an early version of Hamlet when he was as young as 25 — a decade before the conventional late 1590s date of composition? Or is this purported "early version," the Bad Quarto, just a botched and stunted bootleg of one of the later canonical versions? The chief disputants who have reopened this long-running schism are two female scholars, reflecting the way women have come to play pivotal roles in what was once a male-dominated realm. There is, on the one hand, Tiffany Stern of Oxford, who has been called "the leading theater historian of her generation." Called that, in fact, by her nemesis, Terri Bourus, a professor and theater director at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis whose 2014 book, Young Shakespeare’s Young Hamlet(Palgrave Macmillan), is at the heart of a challenge to conventional wisdom.

Statement from NIFA Director on FY 2017 AFRI Budget Proposal

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, today made the following statement on the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Budget Proposal: “The National Institute of Food and Agriculture applauds President Obama’s bold proposal to increase funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) in his FY2017 budget proposal."