1. K-State home
  2. »Research
  3. »Faculty Resources
  4. »News
  5. »2017
  6. »July 13, 2017


Office of the Vice President for Research
120 Fairchild Hall
1601 Vattier St.


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

July 13, 2017

The weekly RSCAD newsletter provides the latest research news, funding opportunities, and academic trends. 

IconFrom the Desk of the VPR

Peter Dorhout writes about the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail and its connections to K-State. 



Last week, I received my regular copy of Kansas History, a journal co-published by the Kansas Historical Foundation and our own Department of History (vol. 40, 2017). I really enjoyed reading about the anniversary of the controversial Chisholm Trail, which formally connected the bursting post-Civil War cattle industry of Texas with the rest of the U.S. via train depots at Abilene, Ellsworth, and ultimately Wichita. The managing editor, Professor Jim Sherow, has assembled four articles that chronicle the roughly 20-year history of how an Illinois entrepreneur changed north central Kansas and an industry following the war.

It may seem like a stretch to connect K-State research to the Chisholm Trail — we were also in our nascency in the late 1860s — but this experiment to bring longhorn cattle from Texas to market through Kansas was driven by an important and virulent vector-borne infectious protozoan, and we know ticks here at K-State.

The entrepreneur Illinois farmer/stockman Joseph McCoy was betting that he could maneuver around the old war blockade plus state regulations that barred Texas cattle from being shipped east through Missouri; he wanted to connect with the expanding Union Pacific railroad in Kansas. The tick-borne blood parasites that caused Texas Fever were problems for the northern cattle, which had no natural immunity like the Texas longhorns that carried the disease. McCoy developed a stockyard and railyard in Abilene so the Texas drivers could move cattle west of the animals in the developed eastern part of Kansas and avoid contaminating the Kansas herds. His experiment created considerable stirs among Kansas cattlemen; however, it opened possibilities for developing other stockyards and expanding the industry west. During his brief experiment, McCoy delivered millions of cattle to eastern markets and helped shape the development of Kansas industry — he was “the real McCoy.” 

It wouldn’t be until 1889 when an alumnus of another land-grant university, Cornell University, would discover the science behind the tick-borne Texas Fever. Theobald Smith, then at the USDA, discovered the parasite responsible for the fever along with the transmission mechanism, and it was the first time that an infectious disease was linked with the transmitting vector, the tick. Smith went on to train the next generations of epidemiologists and was recognized for his contributions to connecting the link between diseases in animals and humans, or zoonotic diseases.

So, I know this sounds like a tall tale spun while riding the Chisholm Trail, but why not reflect on this 150th anniversary of the trail by considering why it came to north central Kansas and how its challenges and successes not only contributed to the development of one of our state’s largest industries but also led to a fundamental and practical understanding of how vector-borne infectious diseases behave. 

Continue to enjoy your summer, and remember to wear DEET if you go out into the prairie or the woods.

— Peter 

Announcements and Events icon

Announcements and Events

Don't miss training opportunities, resources, or other events or news for K-State researchers.

Note updated fringe benefit rates for proposal budgets, join the Science Communication Consortium, Dance Your Ph.D., and more. 


Fringe Benefit Rates

Human Capital Services has confirmed fringe benefit rates for fiscal year 2018. These rates are effective immediately and should be used when preparing budget estimates to be included in proposals for extramural support. To facilitate the transition to these new rates, budgets that are in process will be accepted at the old rate until July 17, at which time PreAward Services will require adoption of fiscal year 2018 rates. Read a detailed chart illustrating the individual components of each of the rates.

Science Communication Consortium

The K-State Science Communication Consortium will meet Wednesday, July 19 at 11:00 a.m. in Union 206. Hear exciting updates on fall 2017 events, discuss our new mission statement, and more. Join the consortium’s Slack group to participate in ongoing conversations.

Dance Your Ph.D. Contest

Translate your research into a dance and win up to $1000 in this annual contest sponsored by Science Magazine.

Share Your Science

To help more scientists to share their expertise with the public the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, Scientific American and the Kavli Foundation are launching a no-cost online course on blogging and op-ed writing for magazines, newspapers and other news outlets. Applications are competitive. Read more and apply.

Free Joint Investigations Course

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD)-Biological Countermeasures Unit (BCU) and the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) have launched a new curriculum to teach the basics of animal and plant diseases and joint investigations. K-State will host the free Animal/Plant Health Joint Criminal-Epidemiological Investigations Course August 8-9, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Union. Registration is required. Find more information and register.


RSCAD Results

ORSP awards Faculty Development Awards and University Small Research Grants each semester. Find out how K-State faculty used the funds to jump-start their projects. 

Maggie Syme examines policy and practices to support sexual expression in nursing home residents



Approximately 1.4 million people reside in long-term care facilities in the U.S., and just under half have been diagnosed with dementia. Providing quality care is a challenge. Good long-term care should protect individuals’ personhood, enhance their remaining capabilities, and support diminished capabilities. Established standard practices help older adults who lack capacity make medical and financial decisions, but support for making decisions about sexual intimacy is lacking. Staff and caregivers or families are often left wondering how to address difficult situations, and informal policies about sexual expression and consent result.

Maggie Syme, assistant professor of gerontology, aims to develop guidelines to help support the autonomy of long-term care residents to have intimacy in their lives while protecting those who are vulnerable because of diminished capacity. Her recent study, “Determining Informal Sexual Consent Policy Among Stakeholders: Older Adults, Family Members, and Directors of Nursing,” examined differences in decision-making among those who evaluate appropriateness of hypothetical sexual activities among older long-term care residents. Syme’s team found some surprising results, including that more “elevated” activity was found to be more appropriate and that cognition was not always a significant factor for middle and older adults despite its crucial nature in most legal standards for consent.

Syme’s work is ongoing, but she will present a symposium at the International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology in July and a poster at the American Psychological Association conference in August.

Syme said the project has provided a “much-needed steppingstone” to securing an international research partnership with colleagues at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and an externally funded grant. She is one of four annual recipients of the Borchard Foundation on Law and Aging Academic Research Grant, which has secured funding for her undergraduate research lab at the Center on Aging.

Syme aims to both improve long-term care and increase the amount of attention paid to the intimacy needs of older adults.

“This research is a step toward providing better, person-centered care for older adults. Social connection and intimacy need to be supported in appropriate ways, and this research will impact those goals. It also brings awareness to a critical issue for many,” Syme said.

Syme’s project was supported by the Center on Aging and School of Family Studies and Human Services in the College of Human Ecology and a University Small Research Grant from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in spring of 2016.


Funding Highlights

The Funding Connection is a weekly publication of the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.

The trans-disciplinary NIH Centers of Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program is this week's featured opportunity.



The National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is soliciting grant applications for the support of Centers of Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research (CEERs).  The CEER Program is designed to support the establishment of sustainable trans-disciplinary research teams with the expertise and flexibility to anticipate, conduct research on, and quickly address a range of cutting edge ethical, legal, and social issues related to genetics and genomics.  The Program is intended to create new research opportunities that cross disciplinary boundaries among investigators in diverse fields, such as the genomic sciences, clinical research, clinical and health policy, ethics, law, the humanities, economics, political science, anthropology and other social sciences.  In addition to conducting trans-disciplinary research, Centers will disseminate their research findings as well as facilitate the use of their findings to develop relevant research, health and public policies and practices.



Agency News and Trending Topics

Keep abreast of funding agency updates and trending RSCAD topics that are in the news. 

NIH policy for grant awards, a new CDC director, the AI revolution in science, and more.


NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards – FY 2017

This Notice provides guidance about the NIH Fiscal Operations for FY 2017 and implements the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (Public Law 115-31), signed by President Trump on May 5, 2017.  With the passage of the Act, NIH received a $2 billion increase above FY2016, for a total of $34.30 billion in budget authority or equivalent (program level), including $352,000,000 from the 21st Century Cures Act.

HHS SBIR/STTR PHS 2017-2 Omnibus Grant Webinar - Recording, Transcript, and Slides Now Available

On Thursday, June 29, 2017 the NIH SBIR/STTR Program office hosted an annual webinar to explain and discuss various aspects of the NIH SBIR/STTR Program. The 2017 Omnibus Grant Solicitations, SBIR 101, Reauthorizations, and Deadlines were addressed, with a live Question & Answer session to conclude the webinar. The slide presentation, webinar recording, and transcript are now available for your reference.

Trump Taps Georgia Health Director to Lead CDC

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced the selection of Brenda Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist who is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, to direct the $12.1 billion Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Review: In ‘Food Evolution,’ Scientists Strike Back

The scientific method is under siege, and not just from naysayers who dismiss climate change or fear vaccines. G.M.O.s — genetically modified organisms — and the crops they enable have become another field of battle. Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, “Food Evolution” hopes to demystify G.M.O.s and points to successes like Hawaiian papayas and Ugandan bananas, which were saved from devastating viruses. And while it gives opponents their say, the film rebuts their arguments, including reports that suggest G.M.O.s lead to a rise in farmers’ suicide rates and an increase in pesticide use. (The response to the first: correlation is not causation; to the second, yes, but those pesticides are far less toxic.)

IACUC 101/201 Workshops

IACUC 101/201 Workshops will be held August 2-3, 2017, in Washington, DC.
IACUC 101: The Basics
is a one-day didactic and interactive exploration of IACUC fundamentals appropriate for new and seasoned IACUC members, IACUC affiliates, and individuals responsible for their institution's animal care program. The course provides a basic yet comprehensive overview of the laws, regulations, and policies that govern the humane care and use of research animals.
IACUC 201: Beyond The Basics is a highly interactive advanced program that builds on the basics and provides multiple opportunities to engage in real life applications of the basic concepts with the goals of learning new approaches and gaining new perspectives for managing issues that many animal care and use programs face. The course includes several active learning sessions as well as question and answer sessions with representatives of OLAW, USDA, and AAALAC.

Stakeholder Engagement Workshop on Implementation of the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern

The U.S. Government and the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity will be co-hosting a workshop to engage with stakeholders and gather feedback on their approaches to, and experiences with, implementing the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern. Institutional oversight is a critical component of a comprehensive DURC oversight system because institutions are most familiar with the life sciences research conducted in their facilities and are in the best position to promote and strengthen the responsible conduct and communication of results.  This two-day workshop will involve discussions with diverse institutional representatives and facilitate the sharing of experiences including strategies, best practices, challenges, and solutions regarding policy implementation and the identification and management of DURC. The two-day workshop will be held on September 25-26, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois.  Click HERE​ to register for this event.

The AI Revolution in Science

Big data has met its match. In field after field, the ability to collect data has exploded—in biology, with its burgeoning databases of genomes and proteins; in astronomy, with the petabytes flowing from sky surveys; in social science, tapping millions of posts and tweets that ricochet around the internet. The flood of data can overwhelm human insight and analysis, but the computing advances that helped deliver it have also conjured powerful new tools for making sense of it all.

The 10 Biggest Moral Dilemmas in Science

Minimising suffering. Maximising happiness. Saving the planet. Looking after future generations. Worthy goals all, but what happens when they come into conflict? Science and technology are constantly pitting our values against each other. In this special feature, we’ve selected 10 particularly burning dilemmas. What makes them so thorny, what ethical principles are at stake – and what should we do?

Massive Database of 182,000 Leaves is Helping Predict Plants’ Family Trees

An atlas that traces the shapes of 182,000 leaves from 141 plant families and 75 locations around the world shows promise for refining scientists’ ability to read that story. Using that atlas, researchers found that leaf shape alone accurately predicted where a leaf was collected 14.5% of the time, and plant family correctly 27.3% of the time. That is far better than predictions made using conventional methods to describe a leaf's shape. Researchers hope that the approach will help them to learn more about the forces that shape plant leaves, and even to get a glimpse of ancient climates by analysing the shapes of fossilized plants. “It’s an amazing data set,” says Dan Peppe, a palaeobotanist at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. “We’re getting closer and closer to automating measures of leaf shape, and using that to figure out the taxonomy of a plant and reconstruct climate.”

Research Spotlight

Raymond "Bob" Rowland, Kansas State University professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has created a way to protect swine offspring from the devastating PRRS virus during reproduction.

Seek research magazine cover

Read Seek, K-State's flagship research magazine