March 31, 2016

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

March 31, 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 popular belief, this is not an April Fools’ day prank — the “i” has been removed from my title. Although no one enjoys interviewing for a job, the experience taught me a lot about myself and, most importantly, about the university and its people. The search committee did a superb job finding four talented finalists for the position, and I am thankful that I rose to the top among such talent.

With that search behind us, there is much to be done. The RSCAD enterprise is ours to affect, collectively, and it’s now my charge to lead us forward. Recent events notwithstanding, we will build on the momentum we have created thus far. Perhaps, to paraphrase Robert Frost, the woods appear to be dark and deep, but I have promises to keep to you, K-Staters, and miles to go before I sleep.

Onward to Top 50!

— Peter

Fulbright Information Session

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will be hosting a Fulbright Scholar Program Information Session at 3 p.m. April 27 in the Alumni Center Lecture Room (third floor). The Core Fulbright Scholar Program offers nearly 500 teaching, research or combination teaching/research awards in more than 125 countries. At this session, three faculty members who have been recent Fulbright Scholar awardees — Barry Bradford (Australia), Jonathan Mahoney (Kyrgyz Republic), Joe Sutliff Sanders (Luxembourg) — will talk about their experience, the logistics of setting up an extended stay in another country, and tips for the Fulbright Scholars submission. Register for the session.

New Funding Opportunities

The Funding Connection

The Funding Connection is a weekly publication of Research & Sponsored Programs. For more information about individual programs and for applications, please e-mail or call 785 532-6195.

Highlight from this week's Funding Connection: The Fiscal Year 2017 Air Force Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) provides support for scientists and engineers who have received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees April 1, 2011 or later and show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The program objectives are to foster creative basic research in science and engineering; enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators; and increase opportunities for the young investigator to address the Air Force mission and related challenges in science and engineering.

K-State in the News

Sorghum Industry Establishes Coordinated Research and Marketing Program

3/21/16 The Hutchinson News
Sorghum industry groups and Kansas State University are working to expand sorghum productivity and markets by 2025. Beginning April 1, the Sorghum Checkoff, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and K-State will enter into a cooperative agreement called the Collaborative Sorghum Investment Program, which will be operated through the Center for Sorghum Improvement at K-State. However, results will impact sorghum producers throughout the country.

College Profs Out to Solve Water Problems in Ogallala Region

3/23/16 Salina Journal
Researchers from seven universities, including Kansas State University, have formed a group that will probe water challenges in the Ogallala region. Colorado State University will lead the consortium that will be funded by a four-year, $10 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is part of the team.

Kansas Researchers Take Bite Out of Brown-Recluse Fear

3/21/16 Kansas City Star and Miami Herald
When she and her fellow Kansas State University researchers would head into a dusty old barn looking for brown recluse spiders to catch, she had the instinctive fear that causes people to recoil at the sight of an arachnid. “The first few times I had to totally suck it up and fake it because I didn’t want to look like the wimp of the group,” said Schwarting, a research associate at K-State. “But after working with them a few times I saw they weren’t aggressive.”

Made Ya Look: Moviegoers May Have Little Control Over Eye Movements, Study Finds

3/22/16 Science Daily
Hollywood-style films may control viewers' attention more than originally thought, according to a Kansas State University researcher. Lester Loschky, associate professor of psychological sciences, recently published "What Would Jaws Do? The Tyranny of Film" in PLOS ONE. The study suggests viewers may have limited cognitive control of their eye movements while trying to understand films.

Winter College on Optics Hones in on Optical Frequency Comb Technology

Optical frequency combs technology, with applications ranging from multispecies gas sensing to high-precision interrogation of atomic and molecular targets, was explored at the 2016 Winter College on Optics. Co-sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the International Commission for Optics (ICO), and several other organizations, the college drew 81 participants from more than 30 countries and ran 15-26 February at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste. Directors were Kristan Corwin (Kansas State University), Marco Marangoni (Politecnico di Milano), and Piotr Maslowski (Nicolaus Copernicus University). Local organizers were Joe Niemela (ICTP) and Miltcho Danailov (Elettra).

From Our Peers

Study Highlights Link Between Social Media Use and Underage Drinking

3/23/16 Bloomberg
"Earlier research has shown that college student posting about and viewing alcohol on social media is correlated with health, social and academic problems related to alcohol use," says Lynsey Romo, study co-author and an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University. "We wanted to learn whether there are specific characteristics of college students who use social media that are linked to alcohol-related problems."

Microneedle Patch Delivers Localized Cancer Immunotherapy to Melanoma

3/24/16 Bloomberg
Biomedical engineering researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a technique that uses a patch embedded with microneedles to deliver cancer immunotherapy treatment directly to the site of melanoma skin cancer. In animal studies, the technique more effectively targeted melanoma than other immunotherapy treatments.

Should You Force Yourself To Eat Breakfast Even if You Aren't Hungry?

3/24/16 Huffington Post
Michelle Bohan Brown, a breakfast researcher at Clemson University in South Carolina, takes Betts’ caution one step further and says only a clinician can accurately say whether or not forcing oneself to eat breakfast is right for an individual person, or whether it fits into their weight loss plan. Brown is set to present a review of several randomized controlled breakfast trials at the Experimental Biology conference April 6, and she says that her overall conclusion from her review is that people shouldn’t expect breakfast to have any effect on their weight either way.

Research Unveils 'Mind Boggling' State of Adult Health in the U.S.

3/22/16 Yahoo!
The research, conducted jointly by Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi, assessed adults according to four general barometers that could help define healthy behavior: a good diet, moderate exercise, recommended body fat percentage and being a non-smoker.

Ancient Bones Point to Shifting Grassland Species as Climate Changes

3/25/16 Science Daily
In a report in Science Advances, an analysis was done of mammoth and bison hair, teeth and bones, along with other data. It concludes that a changing climate — particularly increasing rainfall and not just atmospheric carbon dioxide — explains the expansion of grassland plants during the latter part of the Neogene, a geologic era that includes the present. The research was led by Jennifer Cotton, as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Utah and in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. She is now an assistant professor at the California State University, Northridge.

Study Highlights Importance of Multimodal Communication in Higher Education

3/28/16 Science Daily
Research from North Carolina State University finds that "multimodal" communication — using a mix of words, images and other resources — is important for students and faculty in higher education, a finding that argues for increased instruction in multimodal communication for undergraduates.

RSCAD Trending Topics

New Funding Matchmaker Will Cater to NIH Rejects

Last year, U.S. researchers received about 42,500 pieces of bad news from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their grant proposal had been rejected; they wouldn’t be receiving a piece of the agency’s roughly $30 billion federal funding pie. For many, the next step is to cast around for slices of smaller pies—grants from nonprofit disease foundations or investments from private companies that might keep their projects alive. Now, a new program aims to play matchmaker between these researchers and second-chance funders. The Online Partnership to Accelerate Research (OnPAR), a collaboration between NIH and the defense, engineering, and health contractor Leidos, lets researchers upload rejected NIH proposals to an online portal where potential funders can review the scores received from reviewers, and decide whether to put up cash.

World's Older Population Grows Dramatically

The world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Today, 8.5 percent of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over. According to a new report, “An Aging World: 2015,” this percentage is projected to jump to nearly 17 percent of the world’s population by 2050 (1.6 billion). “An Aging World: 2015” was commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and produced by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report examines the demographic, health and socioeconomic trends accompanying the growth of the aging population.

Scientists Build A Live, No-Frills Cell That Could Have a Big Future

Scientists announced Thursday that they have built a single-celled organism that has just 473 genes — likely close to the minimum number of genes necessary to sustain its life. The development, they say, could eventually lead to new manufacturing methods.

Cuba's Inventive Vaccine Could Treat More Than Just Lung Cancer

A cancer vaccine first tested in Cuba nearly 20 years ago may finally be making its way into the American health system. The two countries have been at loggerheads since the height of the Cold War, though a recent thaw in relations is opening new lines of communication, including among scientists. Since economic sanctions began in the 1960s, Cuban scientists have “had to do more with less,” Candace Johnson told Neel Patel at Wired. This, she says, has fostered a unique research culture. Johnson is the CEO of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York, which will be working with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to apply for FDA approval of the vaccine. Johnson hopes that clinical trials of the vaccine, called Cimavax, will begin in a year.

Microsoft Created a Twitter Bot to Learn From Users. It Quickly Became a Racist Jerk

Microsoft set out to learn about "conversational understanding" by creating a bot designed to have automated discussions with Twitter users, mimicking the language they use. What could go wrong? If you guessed, "It will probably become really racist," you've clearly spent time on the Internet. Less than 24 hours after the bot, @TayandYou, went online Wednesday, Microsoft halted posting from the account and deleted several of its most obscene statements.

The Inside Story of How Oculus Cracked the Impossible Design of VR

When you set out to create a virtual reality headset, you soon realize that the idea of form following function is … a reductive canard. Yes, both of those things matter, and the Oculus Rift does need to be both beautiful and powerful, but it’s not something you hold in your hand—it’s something you put on your face. That’s a daunting prospect: Not only are you blind to the world around you, but there’s the whole I-look-nuts thing. (There’s also the whole here-comes-Skynet thing, but on that front we’ve got bigger, Go-playing fish to fry.) That’s only part of it, though; once you put it on your face, it needs to disappear. It needs to be not just comfortable but light—or at least feel light. After all, it’s less of a window than it is a wormhole; the more you remember it’s there, the less you’re able to lose yourself in everything happening inside it.

The Race is on to Develop Zika Vaccine

Public-health officials say that the first human trials of a Zika vaccine could begin this year. But they caution that it will take until at least next year, and possibly much longer, to determine whether a vaccine works. In the meantime, they are trying to avoid a repeat of their experience with the Ebola epidemic, during which most vaccine trials began too late — just as the rate of infection began to taper off. As a result, scientists missed out on the chance to prove that the vaccines prevent people from becoming infected.