Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities, and Discovery (RSCAD) News
April 20, 2017
The weekly RSCAD newsletter provides the latest research news, funding opportunities, and academic trends.
Steve Higgs writes about research and training successes at the Biosecurity Research Institute.
In the almost six years that I have been at K-State, the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) has continued to flourish thanks to dedicated BRI staff, institutional commitment, and exceptional researchers from several departments who have successfully pursued funding opportunities. Data from the Office of the Vice President for Research show that since 2006, funds obtained by K-State researchers that were in some way attributed to the capabilities of the BRI totaled more than $111 million. And the parking lot is now consistently full!
Here are a few examples of research done at our facility.
- Barbara Valent, James Stack, and Christian Cruz from plant pathology lead work on wheat blast fungal disease, continuously funded at the BRI since 2009. The recent introduction of wheat blast into Bangladesh and India — the first occurrences outside of South America — emphasize the threat that this pathogen poses to worldwide crop production. Studies on Rathayibacter toxicus, a bacterium transmitted by nematodes to certain grass species, will begin in 2017. This plant pathogen produces a toxin that is more deadly than ricin for livestock, potentially killing those that eat the infected grass.
- For the second year in succession, the livestock research area of the BRI is at maximum capacity. Projects include studies on African swine fever, avian influenza, classical swine fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Schmallenberg, and evaluation of a vesicular stomatitis expressed Ebola vaccine. Research on chikungunya, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever and Zika are also ongoing. Development of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments are common themes for many of the studies, with goals to save animal lives, improve detection and response capabilities in the event of outbreaks, ensure a robust and secure agricultural system and food supply, and protect public health. These studies, several of which are funded by the State of Kansas National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility transition fund, are being conducted by faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine, including Roman Ganta, Stephen Higgs, Scott Huang, Juergen Richt, Bob Rowland, Jishu Shi, and Dana Vanlandingham, with collaborating scientists Drolet, McVey, and Wilson from the USDA’s Arthropod Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit.
- Other projects focus on mitigation of foodborne pathogens during food processing, as part of a $25 million grant from the USDA that is directed at K-State by Randall Phebus from animal sciences and industry, plus a study on HEPA filtration monitoring by Stephen Eckels from the College of Engineering.
- In 2016, the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center relocated to the BRI, where team members are developing risk analysis and mitigation strategies to anticipate and respond to events such as foreign pathogen introduction into the U.S. NABC staff are involved in a DHS-funded national livestock readiness program and are conducting FEMA supported animal disease response training for first responders.
Training is a critical part of ensuring safe and secure work at the BRI. More than 200 people have been trained to the level of independent high-containment access, including 115 currently approved to work with the so-called select agents that are regarded by the U.S. government as the highest threat to animals, plants, and people. The BRI is now actively involved in educating undergraduate and graduate students; we have helped develop five new for-credit courses related to biosecurity, biosafety, and research on high-consequence pathogens since 2012. Other accomplishments include:
- Five trainees are currently enrolled in the DHS Research and Development Fellowships for Transboundary Animal Disease Professionals;
- In January, scientists from 11 different countries attended the week-long High Containment Laboratory Practices and Techniques course taught by BRI staff and funded by the USDA;
- In upcoming months, BRI staff will help coordinate, teach, and host a DHS-supported Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases two-week summer program and a Plant Biosecurity and Practices Workshop; and
- BRI will offer a new Transboundary Animal Diseases course taught by Alfonso Torres, former director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, later this year.
Along with all BRI staff members and researchers, I look forward to continuing to contribute to the vigorous and collaborative research and education community at K-State. We invite you to read more about the excellent work of BRI researchers and to attend our BRI Research Fellows Lecture by Arturo Casadevall, Chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, on April 21 at 9:30.
— Steve Higgs
Announcements and Events
Don't miss training opportunities, resources, and other events or news for K-State researchers.
Not Exhibiting? You Can Still Attend the Research Showcase
Call for Projects for Video-Professional Writing Partnership
For the past two years, the Office of the Vice President for Research has identified National Science Foundation-funded researchers as clients for video production and professional writing classes. This year the collaborators are looking to expand the topics, and they are looking for K-State researchers, centers, or others as clients. Read more.
K-REx Helps Faculty House Interim Research Products
The National Institutes of Health released a notice in March encouraging investigators to use interim research products such as preprints to “speed the dissemination and enhance the rigor of their work.”
The K-State Research Exchange, or K-Rex, can help investigators accomplish that goal. K-REx showcases a variety of content created by K-State research, scholarly, and creative activities and discovery efforts and is globally accessible by anyone with Internet access. According to Ryan Otto, digital scholarship librarian at K-State Libraries, Federal funding bodies such as the NIH, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other funding sources are pushing hard for public access both to help reviewers see preliminary work associated with funding proposals and to speed the flow of information for efforts such as the Cancer Moonshot. K-REx provides the infrastructure that is necessary to share preprints and other interim research products.
“Peer review may take a few months to a year, and quick dissemination of initial work is what NIH is really looking for,” Otto said.
- Submissions should allow lead time of at least one week.
- Displaying interim research products in K-REx does not preclude display or publication in other venues.
- The NIH notice contains instructions for citing interim research products in applications, proposals, and reports.
Contact K-REx via the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship at 532-7444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRI Research Fellows Lecture
Arturo Casadevall, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will deliver “Insights into the Origin of Virulence from Model Organisms” at 9:30 a.m. TOMORROW, Friday, April 21 at the Biosecurity Research Institute lecture hall. Read more about Casadevall.
Workshops and Training
Info sessions, training opportunities, and workshops are listed on our events calendar. Upcoming events:
- NSF EAGER webinar from Principal Investigator’s Association: May 3
- Broader Impacts info session and exhibition: May 10
The Funding Connection is a weekly publication of the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Resilient Agroecosystems in a Changing Climate Challenge Area is focusing on sustainable increase in agricultural productivity and the accessibility of safe and nutritious food. This year one priority area will be invested in climate, land use, and land management. Through these investments, USDA will address the understanding of underlying processes, drivers and consequences of land use change, including biophysical and biogeochemical processes, climate feedbacks and environmental outcomes, and social, behavioral, economic and land use interaction.
Agency News and Trending Topics
Keep abreast of funding agency updates and trending RSCAD topics that are in the news.
A funding crunch for scientific research is creating incentives for scientists to cut corners and even occasionally to cheat. This is one of the findings in a new report about scientific integrity from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
A new large-scale technology has launched in Decatur, Illinois that, by combining together corn-based fuels with the burial of carbon dioxide deep underground, could potentially result in the active removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It’s an objective described as crucial by scientists hoping to control the planet’s warming. The facility operated by ethanol giant Archer Daniels Midland, dubbed the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture Project, arrives at a time of uncertainty for the U.S. and global biofuels industry. It faces growing competition from electric vehicles, and continuing struggles to move beyond so-called “first generation” feedstocks like corn, which can create conflicts with food supplies.
Fire season is underway already in parts of the United States, and the growing prevalence of wildfires can pose serious challenges for college research facilities in rural areas. Such facilities can encompass expensive research centers or thousands of acres of experimental forest, like a Clemson University property where a tiny portion of 17,500 acres of land burned in November. Wildfire seasons have gotten longer, with research linking them to hot summers and other factors that are associated with climate change.
This country’s public universities face the Trump administration in a weakened condition. That is partly because they have suffered years of state funding cuts and still aren’t back to pre-2008 levels. But it’s also because they have long embraced a private-funding model that doesn’t work and whose weaknesses Trump and his people can exploit.
Trees are important for timber, food, and medicine, but getting a handle on the world’s thousands of tree species is a tough task. Up until this year, there's been no complete census. Now, researchers have published the first global database of tree species and their geographical ranges, a “huge scientific effort,” the team reports in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.
Many different types of users visit the U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry portal, including business economic developers, policymakers, academics, and researchers. Some are trying to effect change in state or national policy, while others are trying to determine a strategy for a region, industry, or organization. But all have one thing in common: they can use the U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry portal to achieve their goals. You can read some specific examples of how the portal is helping to boost a regional network, teach a class, create an economic forecast, and much more on the Cluster Mapping website.
Thank you for sharing your data stories with us! We received some incredible submissions that shed light on research in many fields. Science's sponsoring department has collected all accepted submissions for people's choice voting.