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Research

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

September 1, 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 VPR

I have recently returned from the national American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting where I serve on the Committee on Budget and Finance (as if a chemistry meeting could get any worse) and as a consultant to the Younger Chemists’ Committee, a committee focused on professional development and programing at meetings focused on early-career chemists. At the latter meeting, we engaged in a lengthy discussion about postdocs in the chemical sciences and creating Professional Development Plans. Later this month, we will be celebrating Postdoc Appreciation Week, and I hope you will engage postdocs in your discipline in a discussion about careers.

At the ACS meeting, it was noted that two hydrogen atoms walked into a bar. One observed that it had lost an electron on the way in. The other questioned, “Are you sure?”  To which the first replied, “Yes, I’m positive!”

Yes, I’m positive — I’m positive about the proposal pressures our faculty and staff have been putting on various funding agencies. A record year in fiscal year 2016 is being followed by a record first 2 months of fiscal year 2017. I’m positive about our engagement with industry partners, who have been increasing their interests in what’s happening at K-State. I’m positive about the new grant writing workshops and info sessions that ORSP is delivering to our faculty at workshops. I’m positive about our RSCAD Momentum toward becoming a Top 50 Public Research University.

— Peter

Faculty Development Awards and University Small Research Grants

FDA and USRG proposals are due October 3. Read about these programs and plan to attend info sessions to learn more.

Polish those Proposals!

Learn how to put your best proposal forward at an array of workshops and information sessions offered by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Upcoming sessions will offer insight into the FDA/USRG process, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and CAREER Programs, Department of Defense funding opportunities, USDA Challenge Grants, and the Fulbright Scholar Program. Get the details.

Take a BioBreak

Invite industry partners and plan to attend the BioKansas BioBreak September 8, 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the Kansas State University Office Park. Find the details and register. 

Win-Win Partnerships

Check out this video on a successful university-industry collaboration. Everybody wins! 

Postdoctoral Appreciation Week

Mark your calendar to celebrate National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week September 19-23. Read about the events and register to attend as we celebrate the contributions of these vital research colleagues. Encourage your postdocs to attend! 

Diversity Research Forum
This year's Diversity Summit will include a research forum from 4-5 p.m. November 3 to showcase diversity-focused RSCAD. Read the call for proposals.

New Funding Opportunities

The Funding Connection

The Funding Connection is a weekly publication of the Office 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 Institutes of Health’s Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program seeks applications for establishing thematic, multi-disciplinary centers that will help strengthen an institution’s biomedical research infrastructure. The center should enhance the ability of investigators to compete independently for complementary NIH individual research grants or other external peer-reviewed support. Because this is an annual, higher award opportunity, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) hopes to hold an information/idea building session for this program later in September. Individuals who might be interested in submitting in 2017 or beyond should attend. The COBRE is limited submission program, so if you decide you want to submit, you must send a notification (working title and list of collaborators) to ORSP by October 24 via orsplimitedsubs@ksu.edu.   

K-State in the News

Ditch the Car: How to Visit America’s National Parks Without the Congestion

8/27/16  The Guardian
Some parks, including Denali National Park in Alaska and Zion National Park in Utah, started to restrict vehicular access, requiring visitors to take shuttles through the park, due to safety issues or congestion problems, or to reduce impacts to wildlife. The benefits of limiting cars to minimize environmental impact aren’t straightforward, however, says Francesco Orsi, an assistant professor of geography at Kansas State University and the editor of Sustainable Transportation in Natural and Protected Areas. Cars may be a big source of air pollution and carbon emissions, but they also limit the number of people wearing out trails and trampling through areas with sensitive habitats.

From Berries to Cheese, Farm Sector Reaping Millions Through Depression-Era Program

8/26/16 CNBC
Many American farmers pride themselves on being self-reliant. But this year, they're getting more federal money from a Depression-era food purchasing program that's designed to combat a supply glut and low prices. Uncle Sam has already spent around $313 million in the year ending in September on Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935, which allows the secretary of agriculture to purchase domestically produced food to balance out supply and demand. That surpasses last year's total of $306.3 million. It's also the largest amount spent on the program since the throes of the recession in fiscal 2009, when $319.5 million was shelled out. "It's not typical but we're having some issues in a lot of the commodity markets," said Mykel Taylor, a professor in farm management at Kansas State University. "Everybody is cycling down from big record incomes and now they're sitting on big supplies."

Manhattan, K-State: Stronger together

8/27/16 Topeka Capital-Journal
K-State launched its 2025 Visionary Plan in February 2010, with the goal of being a top 50 public research university. The initiative has brought in more grant dollars used to fund research, buy equipment and pay salaries, said Peter Dorhout, vice president for research at Kansas State University. “In 2009, we were doing about $150 million worth of research at the university; in five years, we were at $185 million, a roughly 20 percent growth,” he said. The school received about $1 million in licensing revenue, brought in from patents for Kansas companies, in 2011, and that increased by almost $1.5 million by 2014, he said. In 2014, more than $2 million was generated from non-Kansas companies. Roughly 90 faculty do some level of cancer-related research, he said, a fact that surprises many people. (See also: In National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, there is tremendous potential for Manhattan area and Thriving economy creates workforce challenges in Manhattan.)

J.R. MacDonald Lab Receives Nearly $8 Million DOE Grant Renewal

8/28/16 EurekAlert!
MANHATTAN, KANSAS — A nearly $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy is supporting the "bread and butter" physics research at Kansas State University's James R. Macdonald Laboratory. The grant is a three-year renewal award, "Structure and Dynamics of Atoms, Ions, Molecules and Surfaces." "This big operational grant is our bread-and-butter," said Itzik Ben-Itzhak, university distinguished professor of physics and director of the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory. "The grant renewal keeps us running day-to-day and helps us continue to perform experimental and theoretical research. It also enables us to go after developmental grants for specific projects."

No Excuses: Zika Demands a Solution by Senator Jerry Moran
8/25/16 Hays Daily News
The good news is medical experts are hard at work developing a vaccine to restrict Zika’s spread and a treatment to alleviate its effects. This includes the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University in Manhattan. I visited the BRI this week to learn more about the progress being made to defend our country from this dangerous virus and eliminate it worldwide. Our medical researchers are the best in the world, but they cannot stop the spread of this virus or find a cure without resources. Progress has been made possible by reprogramming CDC funds, but that funding is only sufficient through September. Congress must make certain our experts have what they need to protect the health of mothers and children.

From Our Peers

With Warming, Western Fires May Sicken More People

8/19/16 MSN.com
“When you have a wildfire, like a really bad wildfire, you can see that the air quality is reduced,” said Brooke Anderson, a Colorado State University epidemiologist who worked on the new study, published in the journal Climatic Change. “These ambient air pollutants can reach a lot of people.” Researchers like Anderson have taken to using the term “smoke wave” to describe the type of multiday impacts from wildfire pollution that were experienced this month in the Victor Valley. The valley contains hundreds of thousands of residents as well as the thoroughfare linking Las Vegas with Los Angeles.

Trump’s Stamina Attack on Clinton Stirs Talk of Gender Bias

8/23/16 Yahoo! Finance
"She is the first woman from a major party running for president, so gender is always at play," said Dianne Bystrom, the director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. Clinton pushed back Monday against insinuations she's in poor health, saying on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that campaign is like an "alternative reality" where she has to "answer questions about am I alive, how much longer will I be alive, and the like." Gender has always been tricky for Clinton. Throughout her career, she has struggled with how to confront gender norms, ranging from the extent to which to embrace the historic potential of her candidacy to whether she should be referred to by her married name.

Race for Facebook Data Center Raises Tax-Break Questions

8/29/16 Yahoo! Finance
The race between a small town on the Rio Grande in New Mexico and a Salt Lake City suburb to entice a new Facebook data center with millions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies is raising questions about public investments in a booming cloud-computing economy that typically brings few local jobs. In New Mexico, The Los Lunas Village Council agreed to give up all property taxes for 30 years in exchange for annual payments that start at $50,000 and top out at nearly a half-million dollars. Officials in West Jordan say they can hardly compete with the generous offer from the town of 15,000 people in New Mexico. Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, says West Jordan's initial offer was greater than the total combined tax breaks offered for seven other data centers in Iowa. "This is nothing but a giveaway," Swenson said.

Park Service Seeks Minorities’ Support as it Marks 100 Years

8/25/16 Washington Post
The NPS doesn’t track the makeup of its visitors, but commissioned studies have shown about three-quarters are white. The agency’s workforce is less diverse, at 83 percent white, a figure that can fluctuate with temporary employees. Minorities are expected to eclipse the country’s white population before 2050. The problem of lack of minority engagement is longstanding and complex but can be tied to two main factors, said Myron F. Floyd, a leading scholar on race and ethnicity in outdoor recreation at North Carolina State University.

Important Advance Made With New Approach to ‘Control’ Cancer, Not Eliminate It

8/26/16 Science Daily
A system just published in Chemistry of Materials by a group of researchers from Oregon and the United Kingdom offers an even more effective way to deliver such drugs and may be able to greatly improve this approach, scientists say. Further testing is needed in both animals and humans for safety and efficacy. "This new system takes some existing cancer therapy drugs for ovarian cancer, delivers both of them at the same time and allows them to work synergistically," said Adam Alani, an associate professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, and lead author on the new study. "Imagine if we could manage cancer on a long-term basis as a chronic condition, like we now do high blood pressure or diabetes. This could be a huge leap forward." This approach is still in trial stages, Alani said, but shows promise. In some prior work with related systems in animal tests, OSU and collaborating researchers have been able to completely eradicate tumors.

RSCAD Trending Topics

An Alarming Number of Scientific Papers Contain Excel Errors

A surprisingly high number of scientific papers in the field of genetics contain errors introduced by Microsoft Excel, according to an analysis recently published in the journal Genome Biology. A team of Australian researchers analyzed nearly 3,600 genetics papers published in a number of leading scientific journals — like Nature, Science and PLoS One. As is common practice in the field, these papers all came with supplementary files containing lists of genes used in the research. The Australian researchers found that roughly 1 in 5 of these papers included errors in their gene lists that were due to Excel automatically converting gene names to things like calendar dates or random numbers.

A New Era for Grad-Student Organizing

The changing realities of the modern research university and the broad scope of Tuesday’s ruling feed what has been a growing appetite among graduate students to fight for better working conditions at both private and public colleges, where dozens of graduate unions exist under state laws.

The Mystery of How Cancer Cells Barrel Through Your Body

Physicists have long provided doctors with tumor-fighting tools such as radiation and proton beams. But only recently has anyone seriously considered the notion that purely physical concepts might help us understand the basic biology of one of the world’s deadliest phenomena. In the past few years, physicists studying metastasis have generated surprisingly precise predictions of cell behavior. Though it’s early days, proponents are optimistic that phase transitions such as jamming will play an increasingly important role in the fight against cancer. “Certainly in the physics community there’s momentum,” Fredberg said. “If the physicists are on board with it, the biologists are going to have to. Cells obey the rules of physics—there’s no choice.”

Did Famed Human Ancestor ‘Lucy’ Fall to Her Death?

As the world’s most famous human ancestor, the 1-meter-tall primate nicknamed Lucy has made headlines ever since she was discovered at Hadar in the badlands of Ethiopia in 1974. Every aspect of her life story has been scrutinized, from the way she walked to how svelte her figure was. Now, a new controversy is swirling about how she died 3.2 million years ago. A provocative analysis of fractures riddling her bones suggests that she toppled from a tall tree and hit the ground so hard that she smashed many of her bones.

Me and My Drone: How Automatons Are Changing Research

Drones are increasingly making their way into remote locations, violent storms and hazardous habitats for scientific purposes. The technology is so popular that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is stepping in with new rules governing how drones are operated for research uses, among others. The rules, which take effect on 29 August, include limitations such as daylight-only operations, weight specifications and line-of-sight restrictions.

Some Things I Know About Getting Published

I’ve now spent more of my career as an author than I did as a book editor, and I can tell you this: It’s far more fun to be an author. What I also know is that time spent working in publishing is the best training a writer can get. Of course most of you don’t have that option. Over the years, I’ve offered plenty of advice on being productive and writing well. So here I’d like to share some things I learned about publishing — both from working in the business and from being an author.

Federal Prosecutors Join Fight Against Predatory Journals

The rising number of predatory journals has become a major blight on academic publishing, deceiving authors, their institutions, and the wider scientific community. And now the federal government is fighting back. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, in its first such foray into academic publishing, filed a civil complaint this month in federal court in Nevada against one of the largest publishers of online science journals, OMICS Group Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the National Science Foundation’s Implementation of the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Final Overtime Rule

In order to address the many questions that have arisen as a result of the FLSA final overtime rule, NSF has created this set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) specific to NSF awards. These FAQs apply to postdoctoral fellows supported on individual grants, as well as standard research grants.