Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities, and Discovery (RSCAD) News
September 8, 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
Despite the rumors emanating from this week’s First Tuesday gathering, I am not a candidate for Kansas State Senate. Special thanks go out to Sue Peterson and her Government Relations team and Cheryl Strecker for sharing the university policies on the upcoming election in a way that generated interest and discussion. Read more about campaigning policies.
As a university leader, I cannot promote any candidate or political position, but I can highlight and promote two ways that the Office of the VPR can help to make a difference in faculty research funding. Our office has put out a call for proposals for the FDA and USRG grants, below, along with several upcoming training sessions on proposal preparation for these internal as well as external funding opportunities.
Keep reading to learn more about what K-State researchers are doing to change the world in which we live.
It’s not too late to register for National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week events September 19-23.
This year’s K-State Diversity Summit will include a research forum sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of Assessment, the Office of Diversity, and the Teaching and Learning Center. A wide range of projects and topics are welcome; proposals are due October 3. Read more.
Faculty Development Awards and University Small Research Grants
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.
Check out this video on a successful university-industry collaboration. Everybody wins!
Research Photo and Video Guidelines
When we take photos and video in labs, shops, or other research environments, we are showing the outside world how we conduct our work. Adhering to all safety policies and best practices is crucial. Please help us develop excellent promotional communications by following these guidelines.
New Funding Opportunities
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 785 532-6195.
Highlight from this week's Funding Connection: The National Endowment for the Humanities’ Dialogues on the Experience of War program supports the study and discussion of important humanities sources about war, in the belief that these sources can help U.S. military veterans and others to think more deeply about the issues raised by war and military service. The humanities sources can be drawn from history, philosophy, literature, and film — and they may and should be supplemented by testimonials from those who have served. The discussions are intended to promote serious exploration of important questions about the nature of duty, heroism, suffering, loyalty, and patriotism.
K-State in the News
8/31/16 Yahoo! Finance
Researchers at Kansas State University, Wichita State University and the University of California, Davis, recently reported they successfully blocked progression of feline infectious peritonitis, a viral infection of cats that is nearly 100 percent fatal. The study was funded in part with a grant from Morris Animal Foundation.
Research conducted by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) showed that if weeds were left to grow unchecked in corn and soybean fields in the United States and Canada, crop yields would drop by about 50%, resulting in $43 billion annual economic losses. The research, led by Kansas State University weed ecology scientist Anita Dille, spanned seven years from 2007 to 2013 and reveled the scope of a threat to agricultural production that many take for granted. The results showed that on average, weeds cause 49.5% soybean yield loss and 52% corn yield loss when using best management practices but no herbicidal weed control.
9/2/16 Houston Chronicle and SF Gate
The story of Manhattan's growing economy is rarely told these days without focusing on the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. But Manhattan is a thriving community, and it would be a mistake to tie all of that success to NBAF, its leaders said. Although the Little Apple is expected to benefit significantly, NBAF is just part of the city's economic picture. An increasing focus on research at Kansas State University, for instance, brings in dollars that filter into the local community through salaries and purchases. The university 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 the ferocious, sprawling brawl over genetically modified crops, one particular question seems like it should have a simple factual answer: Did those crops lead to more use of pesticides, or less? Edward Perry of Kansas State University, a co-author of the new study, which appears in the journal Science Advances, says farmers may be using more herbicides on glyphosate-tolerant crops in recent years because they have to fight off an increasing number of weeds that have evolved to become resistant to glyphosate.
For the last few years, the United States government has been buying up billions of pounds of cheese. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it plans to buy nearly $12 million worth of eggs and egg-based products over the next year as well. The reason the USDA can help goes back to the Agricultural Act of 1935. The Depression-era law allows the secretary of agriculture to buy up excess domestic products in order to stabilize markets and keep them competitive with foreign imports. But while this year marks the largest dollar amount that the USDA has spent under this program since the height of the 2009 Recession, it’s not necessarily out of the ordinary, Jeff Daniels reports for CNBC. "It's not typical but we're having some issues in a lot of the commodity markets," Mykel Taylor, a professor in farm management at Kansas State University, tells Daniels. "Everybody is cycling down from big record incomes and now they're sitting on big supplies."
8/30/16 WIBW 13 News
The drone could grow to be a friend to the common farmer. “About 2013, and this is a report that I continually refer to, AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International) came out with an economic impact assessment and they identified potentially $1.9 billion in economic growth and 3,714- plus or minus- jobs that could be a benefit to the state of Kansas because of this industry,” said retired Marine Corps Col. Joel Anderson, Development Director at Kansas State University.
From Our Peers
Saying you grow marijuana "for research" sounds like an excuse an 18-year-old college student would give to campus security. But the Drug Enforcement Administration is looking for candidates to do just that. Health news site STAT contacted almost a dozen agriculture schools last month and found that not one was interested or planned to apply for registration with the DEA. STAT put in calls to universities from coast to coast, including schools in pot-friendly states, such as the University of California – Davis, Colorado State University, and Oregon State University, which offers a sociology class on "marijuana policy in the 21st century." Other schools that were contacted include Cornell University, Virginia Tech, University of Vermont, Michigan State University, and Purdue University.
Earlier this week, the hacked-up bodies of at least 26 elephants were discovered in Botswana’s heavily protected Chobe National Park, the largest and most brutal poaching event the park has ever experienced. “This is worse than we expected,” said George Wittemyer, chair of the scientific board of Save the Elephants and a professor in wildlife conservation at Colorado State University. “We didn’t realize how sensitive these animals are until now. We were already hyper-concerned about forest elephants, but this knocks the ground out from under their feet.”
Dr. Esther Ngumbi, a research scientist at Auburn University and Kenyan native, believes biotechnology can have a hand in helping farmers both in the U.S. and in her homeland thrive in the face of adversity. “As they face a continuous decline of rainfall and recurring droughts, African farmers will need all the tools and resources they can get to adapt to the effects of climate change. Biotechnology will continue to play a big role and farmers should be open to considering planting genetically modified crop varieties that have been bred to grow with minimal amounts of water.”
8/30/16 Science Daily
Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions have discovered a type of drug delivery system that may offer new hope for patients with a rare, ultimately fatal genetic disorder -- and make what might become a terrible choice a little easier. No treatment currently exists for this disease, known as Niemann Pick Type C1 disease, or NPC1, that affects about one in every 120,000 children globally, and results in abnormal cholesterol accumulation, progressive neurodegeneration and eventual death. "Right now there's nothing that can be done for patients with this disease, and the median survival time is 20 years," said Gaurav Sahay, an assistant professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, and corresponding author on the new study.
Within the tiniest of spaces - single molecules in single cells - Colorado State University scientists are aiming for something huge: illuminating in never-before-seen detail exactly how viruses hijack their host cells. Life science researchers Tim Stasevich and Brian Musky have received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation for a project that combines sensitive microscopes and sophisticated computation to quantify protein expression in single cells. Their project is titled "Multiplexed Real-Time Quantification of RNA to Protein Translation in Live Cells," and is bolstered by additional support from CSU.
RSCAD Trending Topics
Science, pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble. Stoked by fifty years of growing public investments, scientists are more productive than ever, pouring out millions of articles in thousands of journals covering an ever-expanding array of fields and phenomena. But much of this supposed knowledge is turning out to be contestable, unreliable, unusable, or flat-out wrong. From metastatic cancer to climate change to growth economics to dietary standards, science that is supposed to yield clarity and solutions is in many instances leading instead to contradiction, controversy, and confusion. Along the way it is also undermining the four-hundred-year-old idea that wise human action can be built on a foundation of independently verifiable truths. Science is trapped in a self-destructive vortex; to escape, it will have to abdicate its protected political status and embrace both its limits and its accountability to the rest of society.
Even a rudimentary interest in art can help to shift a researcher's perspective. Routes into the realm include creating your own art, collaborating with artists and viewing art that resonates with you.
A new public-private coalition that aims to derail epidemics by speeding development of vaccines has now hung its shingle with the backing of the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which launched its website today, grew out of the widespread conviction that vaccines languishing in R&D could have prevented the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people. “CEPI is something the world desperately needs, and we’ve been struggling to create it for several years,” says John-Arne Røttingen, who headed the steering committee of an Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea that yielded astonishingly positive results.
Congress returns today from a 7-week summer break with a lengthy list of unfinished business, some of great interest to the U.S. research community—and just a few weeks to tackle it. Lawmakers aren’t likely to pare that list by much before they return to the campaign trail for a final push before Election Day on 8 November. But they will have a second shot when they return for a lame-duck session after voters have chosen a successor to President Barack Obama and a new Congress.
Legislation that would require the United States to develop a national biodefense strategy to help prevent and respond to a bioterrorist attack or public health emergency is awaiting Senate floor action. The Biodefense Strategy Act of 2016, S.B. 2967, would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the president to execute a comprehensive national biodefense strategy, aligning the numerous agencies, programs and resources across government that focus on improving U.S. defense against biological threats.
Research-intensive universities are still using a model that began as an effort to build capacity for academic scientific research. More than 70 years ago, Vannevar Bush’s report "Science: The Endless Frontier," recommended that the government fund basic research in universities and medical schools as well as provide scholarships and fellowships for training researchers. The model worked as long as the resources (funding, facilities, tenure-track faculty positions) exceeded the needs of the scientific community. But it wasn’t long before universities began relying on this support for faculty salaries and indirect costs as well as for research itself. This has led to the current model, in which most academic research is carried out by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, often funded with grants. The focus has shifted from training Ph.D.-level scientists to carry out research to using Ph.D. students and postdocs as an inexpensive labor force.
Patents on software can be controversial. And often, so is the company Elsevier, the giant journal publisher. So when word hit the internet starting on Tuesday night that Elsevier had just been awarded a patent for an "online peer-review system and method," reaction from people aligned with the publishing and open-source worlds came swiftly on Twitter and in other online venues, much of it reflecting suspicion about the company’s motives. "Elsevier reveals its final form: Patent trolling to destroy scientific peer review," said one tweet.
GEOLOGY (OR, MORE properly these days, geosciences) is a field that most incoming first-year students have little experience with. Maybe they had a rock collection, maybe they took AP Environmental Science. Maybe, if they were lucky, they had a high school teacher with some training in the field. However, most of the time, geology is faaaaardown the list of disciplines that any first-year might think to study … and the field doesn’t even cross their mind before they graduate. That, my friends, is a mistake. Few disciplines in today’s world play such a significant role in how society operates and what we can do to protect our future. Few fields of study can play such a profound role in protecting people’s lives on a daily basis, whether you realize it or not. And few can bring together so many disparate ideas, from sciences to social sciences to humanities to the arts, like the study of the Earth can. And no, it isn’t “Rocks for Jocks.”
The activities Scott Barish performs as a doctoral research assistant align with the goals of the federal agencies that sponsor his research and directly benefit his faculty adviser and Duke University. In short, Mr. Barish argues, he is providing a service in exchange for pay and, therefore, he is an employee. Last month, 42 years after deciding otherwise, the federal panel that oversees labor relations agreed. In a ruling involving Columbia University, the full National Labor Relations Board extended the right to collectively bargain not only to teaching assistants at private colleges but also, for the first time, to research assistants on externally funded grants, like Mr. Barish. Graduate unionization at public colleges is governed by state laws.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Acting Director Douglas Lowy, M.D., today accepted the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) on 10 scientific approaches most likely to make a decade’s worth of progress against cancer in five years under the Cancer Moonshot. The report was presented by the BRP to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), and it was subsequently considered and accepted by the NCAB with revisions that reflect the NCAB’s discussion. An overview of the report was published today in the journal Science.