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Research

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

September 29, 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

For the second time in as many weeks, I spent a day last week in KC advocating for the K-State research enterprise. The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) has been a leading organization in promoting the animal health corridor in Kansas and Missouri, anchored by K-State and Mizzou. KCALSI held its annual dinner and featured Dr. Atul Butte, the Executive Director for Clinical Informatics for the University of California system. According to my discussions with Atul, big data evaluation, manipulation, and curation related to health and disease appear to be opportunities for K-State to make a difference, particularly around zoonotic diseases and animal health.

Friday last week welcomed our KSU Foundation Trustees for their fall meeting on campus, which also corresponded with our interim president’s State of the University address. I was pleased to see that Gen. Myers brought research front and center in both presentations. As we have reported recently, he shared that grant proposal pressures were up as were the number of successfully funded grants, but we have our work cut out for us to reach Top 50 Public Research University status by 2025. We are continuing to review our faculty and student successes in research this past year and improvements in our processes and systems that we have made in 2016, and I will have a presentation about those at the First Tuesday event on November 1.

One last point for today about collaborations. You will find a link below in Trending Topics about the correlation between the presence of a low-cost airline in a region and the number and quality of collaborative research programs. Related to this article, which is a transcript of an interview with Shankar Vedantam on NPR’s Morning Edition, is a series of articles that he discussed on a prior radio broadcast on the impact of diversity on research and collaborations that appeared in Nature two years ago.

— Peter

One Last Reminder
  • Don't forget that proposals for K-State's internal research funding programs (University Small Research Grants and Faculty Development Awards) are due Monday, October 3 by 5:00 p.m. Read about program details and proposal submission
  • 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
National Biosafety Stewardship Month is Almost Here!

Scientific discoveries and world-class research are key to K-State's goal of becoming a Top 50 Public Research University. Promoting laboratory biosafety and biosecurity best practices is also a requirement. The NIH Office of Science Policy has announced that the month of October is the 2016 National Biosafety Month, a period during which institutions are encouraged to refocus their attention on biosafety policies, practices, and procedures. The theme of the month is Evaluation, Collaboration, and Commitment. Frequent review and assessment of biosafety oversight programs is vital to maintaining their effectiveness, so we at K-State should evaluate our biosafety programs by engaging in self and peer evaluation of programs and related governance structures. We should also collaborate to promote biosafety by engaging with colleagues on best practices, procedures, strategies, and solutions for enhancing biosafety programs.

The OVPR is committed to conducting our research safely, securely, and responsibly. We strive to foster an environment of individual and institutional compliance with biosafety and laboratory biosecurity regulations, guidelines, standards, policies, and procedures. Find out more about National Biosafety Stewardship Month, and please reach out to the University Research Compliance Office at comply@ksu.edu if you have recommendations or would like to engage in more discussion about biosafety and biosecurity.  

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 Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) serves a critical role in helping NSF focus on important emerging areas in a timely manner. This solicitation is a funding opportunity for interdisciplinary teams of researchers to embark on rapidly advancing frontiers of fundamental engineering research. Proposals investigating emerging frontiers in the following areas will be considered: 1) advancing communication quantum information research in engineering and 2) new light, EM (electronic) and acoustic wave propagation — breaking reciprocity and time-reversal symmetry. EFRI seeks proposals with transformative ideas that represent an opportunity for a significant shift in fundamental engineering knowledge with a strong potential for long-term impact on national needs or a grand challenge.

K-State in the News

Eggo Waffles Recalled on Listeria Fears

9/21/16 Yahoo! Finance
You might want to let go of that Eggo. The Kellogg Company has voluntarily recalled 10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles because they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria is responsible for fewer food-borne infections than other types, such as salmonella or E. coli, but it can cause serious illness or even death in some people. Those who are at high risk are people age 65 and older and those with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are vulnerable, too. While they typically don’t become seriously ill themselves, the bacteria can cause miscarriages and birth defects. “We may be hearing more about listeria because more companies are sampling their foods for it as a precautionary measure and recalling the product if it is found,” says Fadi Aramouni, Ph.D., professor of food science at Kansas State University.

Couples Are From Mars and Venus When It Comes to Spending

9/21/16 Yahoo! Finance
Hey big spender — did you check with your spouse before making that purchase? Two-thirds of consumers have an agreement with their significant other to talk before spending more than a set amount, according to new data from Ameriprise Financial. The average cutoff is $392, although 16 percent of consumers say they have free rein to spend as much as $1,000 — or more. The survey queried 1,514 couples (3,028 individuals) nationwide during July. It focused on couples married or living together for at least six months, who are between the ages of 25 to 70 and who have at least $25,000 in investable assets. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.8 percent. Successfully setting a cutoff requires open communication as a couple, said certified financial planner Sonya Britt, an associate professor at Kansas State University. It's not about saying you can't spend freely, just that you'll check in with each other before making a big purchase that might compromise your shared goals.

Culex Mosquitoes Do Not Transmit Zika Virus: Study

9/23/16 Business Standard & 9/22/16 Science Daily
In the fight against Zika virus, researchers have recently found that the Culex group of mosquitoes are unlikely to transmit the deadly virus into humans. Culex is a genus of mosquitoes, several species of which serve as vectors of one or more important diseases of birds, humans and other animals. "It's very important to know that Culex mosquitoes are not able to transmit Zika. It will enable people to target their control strategies so that they aren't wasting time and effort on a mosquito that isn't transmitting the virus," said lead author Dana Vanlandingham, Assistant Professor at the Kansas State University, in the US. ... "We can now check this particular group of mosquitoes off the list here in the US and focus efforts of control on the mosquitoes that we know can infect, like Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus," added Stephen Higgs, Director of the Biosecurity Research Institute.

Exhibit to Highlight Kansas Towns That No Longer Exist
9/23/16 Lexington Herald-Leader
Exhibit curator Bonnie Lynn-Sherow says it's meant to make people aware that their story about their hometown is important history. "The history is made by regular people living their lives from day to day," Lynn-Sherow said. "Their memories, the things they've saved and the stories that they tell their children are as much a part of history as anything we write about presidents, wars and big events."

From Our Peers

Iowa State Research Park Faces Big Loss in Firm’s Bankruptcy

9/21/16 Yahoo! Finance
The Iowa State University Research Park is facing a major financial loss after a once-promising tenant was allowed to fall behind on rent for years before going bankrupt. The Ames research park, a nonprofit that is connected to the university, says it is likely the single biggest creditor of Etrema Products and is owed roughly $480,000 in uncollected rent. Research Park director Steve Carter said Wednesday that the park considered evicting Etrema but gave the company more time as it sought to find new markets for its products. The company, which had been at the park for 20 years, was seeking to commercialize Terfenol-D, a metal that was thought to have numerous applications. "We thought they had a good plan," Carter said. "They were pursuing some new opportunities that seemed logical and have good potential, but they simply were not able to realize them in the timeframe that they had."

Research Keeps Proving Dogs Are Good for Your Health

9/21/16 Chicago Tribune
Wayne Pacelle has a demanding job as president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. This is one of the reasons he brings Lily, his beagle mix, to work with him. He is convinced that animals "are a necessary ingredient in our emotional well-being,'' he says. "I deal with many stressful issues, and I see terrible cruelty,'' he adds. "But when Lily puts her head on my lap, it calms me.'' Pacelle can't scientifically document the positive effects he gains from his connection with Lily (and Zoe, his cat.) But his experience supports what researchers who study human/animal interaction have concluded: Pets, especially dogs, seem to be good for our health. Lori Kogan, an associate professor of clinical sciences at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the editor of the Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, says that pets can be especially helpful for people facing emotional difficulties. "Dogs have a positive impact on depression and anxiety,'' Kogan says.”When someone loses a spouse or partner, for example, having a dog provides a reason to get up and be social,'' she says. For many older people, "it's the only relationship they have.''

Reconfigurable Chaos-Based Microchips Offer Possible Solution to Moore’s Law

9/20/16 Science Daily
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed new, nonlinear, chaos-based integrated circuits that enable computer chips to perform multiple functions with fewer transistors. These integrated circuits can be manufactured with "off the shelf" fabrication processes and could lead to novel computer architectures that do more with less circuitry and fewer transistors. "We're reaching the limits of physics in terms of transistor size, so we need a new way to enhance the performance of microprocessors," says Behnam Kia, senior research scholar in physics at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. "We propose utilizing chaos theory — the system's own nonlinearity — to enable transistor circuits to be programmed to perform different tasks. A very simple nonlinear transistor circuit contains very rich patterns. Different patterns that represent different functions coexist within the nonlinear dynamics of the system, and they are selectable. We utilize these dynamics-level behaviors to perform different processing tasks using the same circuit. As a result we can get more out of less."

Arctic River Flood Plains Are Home to Hidden Carbon

9/26/16 Nature Publishing Group
In the race to account for how carbon moves through Arctic ecosystems, especially as they warm, scientists may be overlooking one major component: river flood plains. Arctic rivers are responsible for some 10% of the world’s freshwater discharge, and their enormous size and meandering paths mean that many of them have large flood plains. Yet few studies have tackled what river flood plains mean for global carbon cycling, says Katherine Lininger, a geomorphologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Instead, researchers typically view rivers as pipes, funneling the carbon that enters them upstream all the way to the ocean, practically untouched. Recent estimates suggest that Arctic rivers carry nearly 6 million metric tonnes of carbon into the ocean each year. Offshore, that can form an important carbon sink

RSCAD Trending Topics

Can An Airline Affect the Direction of Science?

Research collaborations often involve scientists from all over the world. A new study looks at plane ticket prices, and how they relate to the direction of science.

Collaboration: Strength in Diversity

Sticking with co-authors with similar surnames to yours might dent the impact of your work. The reason is unclear, but bibliometrics suggest that teams with greater ethnic diversity generate papers that make more of a splash in the scientific literature. We analysed 2.5 million research papers in which all of the authors had US addresses. Our study showed that US-based authors with English surnames were more likely have co-authors with English surnames than would occur by chance; those with Chinese names were more likely to have co-authors with Chinese names, and so on. The trend held for seven other groups, including Russian and Korean populations, between 1985 and 2008 in 11 scientific fields, including biomedicine, physics and geosciences. The results hint that scientific research is much like the rest of social life. Studies of social networks find that people eat with, work with and generally connect with others similar to themselves, a tendency that some sociologists call homophily.

High-Containment Laboratories: Actions Needed to Mitigate Risk of Potential Exposure and Release of Dangerous Pathogens

In 2015, the Department of Defense discovered that one of its labs had inadvertently sent live anthrax to almost 200 other labs worldwide over 12 years. The lab's "inactivation" (removal of hazardous effects) of the pathogen was incomplete. Both the science and the federal guidance around pathogen inactivation are limited and inconsistently implemented. No one knows how many incomplete inactivation incidents have occurred because labs don't have to identify them in incident reports, and are only required to report incidents involving certain pathogens. The report related to this testimony recommends ways to address incomplete inactivation risks.

PTSD Clinical Consortium

The Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) Defense Appropriations Act provided research funding for the peer reviewed INjury and TRaumatic STress Consortium (INTRuST) managed by the Department of Defense (DOD) office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).   The INTRuST Consortium was established to combine the research efforts of the Nation’s leading experts on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to develop novel treatments or interventions for those who suffer from PTSD and/or TBI. Access the data request form.

Emerging Pathogens in Meat and Poultry (Pew Charitable Trusts)

This study reviews microbial hazards and risks in the U.S. meat and poultry supply that have emerged, are emerging, or that evidence suggests may emerge in the future. The study’s goals are to identify factors that favor the occurrence of emerging pathogens (EPs) and pinpoint traits that EPs transmitted through meat and poultry may share; characterize the challenges these pose, be they scientific, technological, or regulatory; and determine mechanisms that might facilitate the expeditious detection, characterization, and control of such EPs.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Commits $3 Billion to End All Diseases by 2100

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative on Wednesday announced a $3 billion commitment toward helping find cures for all of the diseases facing humans by the end of the century. The initiative by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, is part of the couple's philanthropic efforts to better life for all children in their daughter's generation. The pair are kicking off their efforts with a $600 million investment in creating the BioHub, a lab to be located in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood that will bring together engineers and scientists from Stanford, Berkeley and UCSF. There, they will work on creating tools that can be used to find cures for all diseases.

Study Warns That Science As We Know It Is Evolving Into Something Shoddy and Unreliable

There's no shortage of warnings from the scientific community that science as we know it is being drastically affected by the commercial and institutional pressure to publish papers in high-profile journals — and now a new simulation shows that deteroriation actually happening. To draw attention to the way good scientists are pressured into publishing bad science (read: sensational and surprising results), researchers in the US developed a computer model to simulate what happens when scientists compete for academic prestige and jobs.

It’s Time to Enter the Science Comic Strip Competition!

Maybe you’ve spent hours laughing at PhD comics or #whatweshouldcallgradschooland you are inspired to create your own science comic (and if you’ve never heard of them, I’m sorry for the hours of time that you will now waste). This is your chance to share your science and show your sense of humor with colleagues and the community! Sketch, draw, or design a funny moment, an interesting perspective, or any creative idea that pertains to science in comic strip or meme format. Gain inspiration from previous winners from 2015 and 2014. Submit by October 15, 2016 for a chance to win a $300, $200, or $100 prize!!! The winning comic will be posted on the ASCB website and highlighted at this year’s annual meeting in San Francisco, CA.