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Research

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

September 22, 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

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak as part of a symposium series at the National Security Education Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.  Meetings with the Director of NSEC and the Deputy Associate Director of Science, Technology, and Engineering enabled me to talk about our related strengths in national security, science, and engineering for possible future collaborations. I also learned that the laboratory will be seeking to hire staff members over the next 5–10 years at levels that are unprecedented since the 1960s.

Collaborations to do research with external partners such as LANL require a great deal of coordination and commitment from teams of people both here at K-State and at the partner organization. Most faculty are not focused, nor should they be, on the details of setting up a broad organizational agreement or negotiating a contract for funding, but our PreAward Services, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and University Research Compliance Office staff members are. This week we are recognizing our research administration staff for an outstanding, record-setting year of proposal submissions. See below for details. Please take a moment this week to reach out to your college or departmental research administrator and thank him or her for the help this past year.

Complementing our work in the sciences and engineering that I called out above is our research in diversity and the issues facing the diverse peoples of the world. As part of our Diversity Summit this year, we are co-hosting a research forum where we will feature this vital area of research being done by our students, faculty, and staff. Find more information below.  

Don’t forget that this week is also National Postdoc Appreciation Week, during which we help recognize nearly 150 members of our K-State research community. We hope you've been able to attend some of the week's events, and we hope you will be able to join us for the culminating research forum event on Friday at 2:00 in Leadership Studies Town Hall (room 114). 

— Peter

Thank a Research Administrator

September 25 is National Research Administrator Day! Take time to thank the people on our campus who help our researchers prepare and submit funding proposals, negotiate grant and contract documents with funding agencies, and comply with university, Board of Regents, and state and federal regulations. Thanks to our excellent staff in PreAward Services, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and the University Research Compliance Officeand to the other research administrators in colleges and departments across our campuses.

Join the National Postdoc Association

K-State has joined the National Postdoc Association as a Sustaining Member, so our postdocs and mentors are entitled to free affiliate memberships. Read about the benefits of membership and how to join. Thanks to all who have attended National Postdoc Appreciation Week events this week! 

Want to Work With Industry?

Visit our newly revamped Office of Corporate Engagement website to find resources that can help build skills to make you a better industry collaborator. Read about recent projects and success stories and find information about available workshops.

Diversity Research

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

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 Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will, in the very near future, publish a Research Announcement for its Young Faculty Award (YFA) program. This award’s purpose is to provide high-impact funding to elite researchers early in their careers to develop innovative new research directions in the context of enabling transformative DoD capabilities. DARPA anticipates soliciting innovative research proposals in the areas of physical sciences, engineering, materials, mathematics, biology, computing, informatics, social science, robotics, neuroscience and manufacturing of interest to DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), and Biological Technologies Office (BTO). To provide information on this program to potential proposers, DARPA is presenting a webinar on October 3, 2016, from 1 to 4 pm, CDT.

K-State in the News

Sugarcane Aphids Infesting Kan. Milo Causing Sticky Situation

9/16/16 Hutchinson News
Experts introduced sugarcane aphids as potential problems in north-central Kansas last year as the grain sorghum crop entered maturity. “That’s the crux of the problem,” said Jeff Whitworth, Extension field crop entomologist at the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan. Monday’s cash price, which ranged from $2.32 to $2.60 a bushel, is already at or below production costs, Maxwell said, based on normal yield. “Right now, with the price of sorghum, you need 90 to 100 bushels just to break even,” said J.P. Michaud, entomologist at the K-State Agricultural Research Center in Hays. The problem involves more than sugarcane aphids in the Hays area. It also involves secondary pests, such as chinch bugs, false chinch bugs and lygus bugs. All of those, and the aphids, will feed on the developing grain. “I’ve seen fields of sorghum right around Hays with 60 percent yield loss, just due to those secondary bugs and not the aphids,” Michaud said. “You get blasted grain. There’s nothing in the berries,” Michaud said.

Center for Student-Veterans Opens at Kansas State University

9/14/16 Miami Herald
A new, private center on the Kansas State University campus aiming to help veterans transition into student life has opened. The Military Affairs Innovation Center opened Monday, The Manhattan Mercury (http://bit.ly/2cwrICs ) reports. Art DeGroat, director of the university's Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, says the center will work with other agencies and use the university's research into how veterans have transitioned into life after the military to help student-veterans. "Innovation is the key word," DeGroat said. "It's things that are above and beyond the day-to-day university activities in support of our military connected students." The center is also researching the life stories of 48 student-veterans who died while fighting in World War I. The Kansas State University Memorial Stadium will be dedicated to those students in April, which marks the 100th anniversary of the country's involvement in the war. The center is funded through two major donations from the Kansas Masonic Foundation and the David Woods Kemper Veterans Foundation.

Environmental Impact of GM Crops Unveiled

9/19/16 Economic Times (India)
Widespread adoption of genetically modified crops has reduced the use of insecticides, but increased the use of herbicides as weeds become more resistant, according to the largest study of GM crops and pesticide use to date. Researchers studied annual data from more than 5,000 soybean and 5,000 maize farmers in the US from 1998 to 2011, far exceeding previous studies that have been limited to one or two years of data. Ciliberto, who carried the study alongside Edward D Perry of Kansas State University, David A Hennessy of Michigan State University and GianCarlo Moschini of Iowa State University, attributes this increase to the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant weeds. "In the beginning, there was a reduction in herbicide use, but over time the use of chemicals increased because farmers were having to add new chemicals as weeds developed a resistance to glyphosate," Ciliberto said.

Food Safety Expert Reveals What Expiration Dates Really Mean to Avoid Food Poisoning and Reduce Waste

9/13/16 Medical Daily (By Londa Nwadike, Assistant Professor of Food Safety, Extension Food Safety Specialist at University of Missouri, Kansas State University)
No one wants to serve spoiled food to their families. Conversely, consumers don’t want to throw food away unnecessarily — but we certainly do. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates Americans toss out the equivalent of US$162 billion in food every year, at the retail and consumer levels. Plenty of that food is discarded while still safe to eat. Part of these losses are due to consumers being confused about the “use-by” and “best before” dates on food packaging. Most U.S. consumers report checking the date before purchasing or consuming a product, even though we don’t seem to have a very good sense of what the dates are telling us. “Sell by,” “best if used by,” “use by” — they all mean different things. Contrary to popular impression, the current system of food product dating isn’t really designed to help us figure out when something from the fridge has passed the line from edible to inedible.

Researchers Develop New Model to Map Links Between Salmonella and Sepsis

9/16/16 Medical News
Research by industrial engineering and biology researchers at Kansas State University marks a significant milestone in the battle against sepsis, the second highest cause of death in intensive care units in the U.S. The study, "An Agent-Based Model of a Hepatic Inflammatory Response to Salmonella: A Computational Study under a Large Set of Experimental Data," was recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE. Zhenzhen Shi, a December 2015 industrial engineering doctoral graduate and first author; faculty researchers David Ben-Arieh, professor, and John Wu, associate professor, both of industrial engineering; and Stephen Chapes, professor of biology, studied the biological processes that lead to and result from sepsis, a hepatic — or liver-related — inflammatory response. The research team developed an integrated mathematical and multi-agent-based model to simulate hepatic inflammatory response caused by salmonella.

For Safe Pet Jerky Treats, Follow Human Food Guidelines

9/19/16 Petfood Industry.com
Manufacturers of pet jerky treats should consider following jerky meat guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build safety into their products, said Liz Boyle, PhD, professor and extension specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences & Industry at Kansas State University (KSU). A HACCP expert, she spoke during the KSU Pet Food Experience and Petfood Innovation Workshop held September 13-15 at the university in Manhattan, Kansas, USA. Many jerky products, whether for humans or pets, are made by dehydrating strips of meat, but that process is not enough to ensure that contaminants or pathogens such as Salmonella will be killed, Boyle said. In fact, if Salmonella is present, dehydration dries out those organisms, too, actually making them heat-resistant and more likely to survive, Boyle added.

From Our Peers

Struggling U.S. Wheat Sector Cheers Trade Action Against China

9/18/16 Yahoo! Finance
U.S. wheat farmers, struggling to make money as prices sink and global supplies swell, could be the main beneficiaries if Washington wins a case it brought last week against China over an estimated $100 billion in domestic grain market supports. On Tuesday, U.S. trade officials said they would file a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China over allegations that aggressive pricing supports prompted Chinese farmers to overproduce corn, wheat and rice, fueling a global crop glut and depressing world prices. U.S. Wheat Associates then funded an additional study from Iowa State University to look at the economic impact of China's subsidies. That estimated that if the subsidies were removed, the United States would produce nearly 1 million tonnes more wheat by 2022 and export almost 1.5 million tonnes more to China. Beijing's program led to at least $650 million in lost revenue for U.S. farmers last year, the study found. "China is huge in everything and Chinese policy has enormous impacts for the U.S. The potential benefits to the U.S. of minor policy changes in China are enormous," said Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who conducted the analysis.

The ‘Five-Second Rule’ for Eating Food? Scientists Just Demonstrated How Gross It Is

9/13/16 Washington Post
Imagine it’s lunch. You are holding a fat slice of watermelon. It looks delicious. You move in for a bite. But something goes terribly wrong. The fruit slips from your juice-slicked fingers. Time slows as the nutritious treat tumbles to the linoleum. Eh. You shrug, scooping up the slice. Maybe you make a halfhearted attempt to brush it clean. Maybe you even invoke that childhood decree — the five-second rule — as you sink your teeth into its melon flesh. If you are unfamiliar with the rule, if you were never a klutzy fourth-grader with a sweet tooth and a fistful of M&Ms, it is simply this: If you drop food to the ground, you have a five-second window to pick it up and the snack will remain clean enough to eat. Though the origins of the five-second rule are murky, it is possible the tension it represents has always existed. Food science experts have been trying to understand — and debunk — the notion ever since. The show “MythBusters” busted it in 2005. Clemson’s Paul Dawson published the first peer-reviewed study taking a crack at the rule in 2007. The new study aims to be a coup de grace: The paper is the best, most comprehensive evidence to date that, as a rule, the five-second method does not hold up.

There’s a New Basic Taste in Town: ‘Starchy’

9/15/16 Food Network
It may seem like only last year (actually, it was only last year) that scientists were celebrating the discovery of a sixth “basic taste” — something to join the ranks of sour, sweet, salty, bitter and that Johnny-come-lately, umami, as a fundamentally distinct and discernable flavor. Well, fat, we hardly knew ye, because now there’s a new sixth primary taste in town: starchy. Could this explain humanity’s common craving for carbs? “Every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate,” Juyun Lim, an associate professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University, in Corvallis, Ore., told New Scientist. “The idea that we can’t taste what we’re eating doesn’t make sense.” Lim and her team set out to determine whether we perceive complex carbs as their own thing or rather, as had been assumed, by breaking them down into simple sugars and perceiving them as sweet.

One-Two Punch of ‘Cue and Reward’ Makes Exercise a Habit

9/15/16 Psychology Today Blog
Why is sticking with an exercise routine so challenging for most people? According to a new study from Iowa State University (ISU), one reason exercise doesn’t become a habit for a lot of people is that “extrinsic motivators”—such as exercising to lose weight or look good—don’t have the psychological staying power to motivate people day in and day out over the long haul. Of course, exercising for external reasons, such as weight loss, are legitimate reasons to start and maintain an exercise regimen. But, according to lead author of this new study, Alison Phillips, even if you achieve that extrinsic reward, it's usually not enough to make exercise an automatic behavior. Plus, if you don't see the external results you want quickly enough, you're likely quit. This is why habit formation is essential to creating life-long behavioral changes. "If exercise is not habit, then it's effortful and takes resources from other things you might also want to be doing. That's why people give it up," Phillips said in a statement.

New Tech Promises to Boost Electric Vehicle Efficiency, Range

9/15/16 Science Daily
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new type of inverter device with greater efficiency in a smaller, lighter package — which should improve the fuel-efficiency and range of hybrid and electric vehicles. Electric and hybrid vehicles rely on inverters to ensure that enough electricity is conveyed from the battery to the motor during vehicle operation. Conventional inverters rely on components made of the semiconductor material silicon. Now researchers at the Future Renewable Electric Energy Distribution and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center at NC State have developed an inverter using off-the-shelf components made of the wide-bandgap semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC) — with promising results.

RSCAD Trending Topics

Important Information Regarding Automated Compliance Improvements of NSF Proposals

As part of NSF’s efforts to modernize proposal submission and increase competitive fairness in the proposal process, the Foundation continues to focus on implementing automated proposal compliance checks in FastLane.  

Effective September 26, 2016, FastLane will now check to ensure that the combined text of the Project Summary text boxes (or uploaded PDF if the Project Summary contains special characters) does not exceed one page prior to submission, rather than the current check of 4,600 characters. See the Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG)Chapter II.C.2.b, for further information.

  • The compliance check will trigger an error message in the following circumstances:
    • Project Summary text exceeds the one-page limit; and
    • Project Summary text is entered and the user also uploads a “Project Summary with Special Characters” supplementary document.
  • Proposal File Update (PFU) Implications: Proposers should be aware that if a proposal was received by NSF prior to September 26, 2016, containing a Project Summary that complies with the previous 4,600-character limit but exceeds the one-page limit, a PFU addressing any section of the proposal will result in the proposal not being accepted if it does not comply with these compliance checks. The checks will be run on all sections of the proposal, regardless of which section was updated during the PFU. 
  • Grants.gov Implications: Proposers should also be aware that Grants.gov will allow a proposal to be submitted, even if it does not comply with these proposal preparation requirements. Should NSF receive a proposal via Grants.gov that is not compliant, it will be returned without review.
2016 Science Debate: The Candidates’ Views on America’s Top 20 Science,Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016

The candidates for president have responded to America's Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016. These key issues affect voters’ lives as much as the foreign policy, economic policy, and faith and values views that candidates traditionally share with journalists on the campaign trail. Several of America’s leading science and engineering organizations are urging the candidates and the press to give them equal priority in the national dialogue. For three cycles, presidential candidates have chosen to share their views here, as the Democratic and Republican candidates did in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, we also invited the Green and Libertarian candidates. Clinton, Trump and Stein responses were published Sept 13. Johnson responses were received Sept 17.

Possession, Use, and Transfer of Select Agents and Toxins-Addition of Bacillus Cereus Biovar Anthracis to the HHS List of Select Agents and Toxins

Comments from Cheryl Doerr, K-State associate vice president for research compliance:

  • CDC will accept public comment on this for 60 days.
  • B. cereus Biovar anthraces, an emerging pathogen similar to Bacillus anthracis, has been isolated from great apes with anthrax-like disease in several countries in Africa. The agent is in limited distribution, but because of potential for safety and security concerns, CDC officials believe it is important to regulate this agent now. 
  • CDC will consider comments then will publish a Final Rule. In the meantime, within 30 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register, any individual or entity that possesses the agent must provide notice to CDC, and by 180 after the publication date, any individual or entity that intends to continue to possess, use, or transfer this agent will be required to either register in accordance with the select agent regulations (42 C.F.R. part 73) or amend their current registration and meet all of the requirements of the select agent regulations.
Turmoil at Federal Agency Threatens Oversight of Biomedical Research

A small government office that monitors misconduct in biomedical research is in turmoil, jeopardizing oversight of billions of dollars in grants to universities and other institutions around the country.

Graduate-Student Unions Mean Good News for Professors, Too

There is a solid economic case for graduate unions. In their classic book, What Do Unions Do?, and in follow-up research, the economists Richard Freeman and James Medoff discussed two roles of unions. The first was promoting improvement in bargaining power and wages, important in its own right. But they also stressed the second role, wherein unions improve productivity by giving workers an institutionalized voice so they don’t have to change jobs to improve their working conditions. True, this role can involve burdensome rule-making and wasteful featherbedding; however, it also improves retention, makes recruiting easier, lowers turnover, and improves morale.

Collaborate2Cure by the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute

Collaborate2Cure is a program designed to stimulate regional scientific collaboration. Weekly presentations will be given on a particular topic; the first topic is Immunotherapy — Cancer and Beyond. Each week, two presenters will give a short 12–15 minute presentation on their research followed 15 minutes of audience Q/A. Anyone is invited to join us at the Kauffman Foundation or virtually using ZOOM every Thursday through November, 4:00pm—6:00pm.

US Toughens Rules for Clinical-Trial Transparency

The disappointing results of clinical trials will no longer be able to languish unpublished, thanks to rules released on 16 September by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The long-awaited changes to the HHS clinical-trial disclosure laws requires, for the first time, that researchers report the design and results of all clinical trials and empowers the government to enforce penalties for those that do not comply. The NIH rules apply only to work done through agency grants, and include stricter reporting requirements for phase I trials. If institutions don’t follow the rules, the NIH could withdraw their funding.

How to Write Like an Olympian

The summer Olympics have come to an end, and with it, the summer itself. A new school year means new students, new goals, and if the commercials are to be believed, new shoes. But the Rio games have got me inspired to treat this semester differently than the last. Grad students train and perform at elite levels, just like Olympians. We work insane hours, make huge sacrifices, and compete with the best in our field. So this year, I’m going to envision myself as a top athlete. I’m going to write like an Olympian. But competing at the Olympic level takes more than just skill. You need a solid plan. Below are some tips I’ve compiled to help myself and others go for gold.