April 21, 2016

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

April 21, 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, several dozen K-Staters descended upon our nation’s capital to engage in the annual pilgrimage to the Hill and to meet with program officers at key foundations and funding agencies to share their RSCAD stories. Each year, the Office of Governmental Relations coordinates Hill visits for the deans and other K-State leaders to discuss the exiting research on our campuses. Along with the associate deans for research in the colleges, our proposal development team in the OVPR coordinates visits to NSF, NIH, DoD, and other agencies and foundations in the DC area, to rave reviews. Thanks to everyone who helped plan and lead this trip.

Following up on a conversation with several congressional staffers, we brought together more than a dozen faculty and staff from across campus to discuss opportunities for interdisciplinary research teams focused on homeland security and disease management. This meeting was prompted by a recent Science Magazine article on the Ebola outbreak and global response in west Africa. Emergency preparedness and disease response plans are a critical part of our partnership plan for NBAF, and we have the talents here on campus to research and address the many facets that comprise the human and animal elements of those responses, including understanding the cultures, languages, political systems, economies, and communication strategies necessary to control a spreading outbreak in animals or humans.

Finally, on Wednesday morning, the campus welcomed our incoming interim president, GEN (ret) Richard Myers (BS ’65). As part of his welcome speech, he noted the great progress we’ve made as a campus in research on our way to becoming a Top 50 public research university. He also called me out, noting that we have a lot of work ahead of us to grow the research enterprise at K-State. He’s correct, and we can do it.

— Peter

PepsiCo Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer to Deliver Landon Lecture

Dr. Mehmood Khan leads PepsiCo's research and development efforts and sustainability initiatives, including conserving global water supplies, developing innovative packaging to minimize environmental impact, eliminating solid waste to landfills from production facilities, reducing companywide greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting sustainable agriculture efforts by expanding best practices with PepsiCo growers and suppliers. Khan launches research projects with leading universities and technology companies and spearheads agricultural and nutrition science initiatives. Hear his Landon Lecture at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 25 in McCain Auditorium.

Global Food Systems Research Project Presentations

Plan to attend presentations by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are members of Global Food Systems research teams on April 28 at 2:00 p.m. in the Beach Museum of Art UMB Theater. A keynote talk by artist and National Geographic photo-essayist Jim Richardson will follow at 4:30. The K-State speakers received special training to enhance science communication skills.

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.

International Collaboration Awards for Publication and Creative Work

The Office of International Programs recognizes K-State faculty, instructors and researchers who have collaborated with an international partner for the first time during the 2015 calendar year. Read about the guidelines and apply.

Third Quarter Awards Are Posted

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 research@k-state.edu or call 785 532-6195.

Highlight from this week's Funding Connection: The Department of Defense (DoD) Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program supports basic science and engineering research at U.S. institutions of higher education that is of interest to DoD. The program is focused on multidisciplinary research efforts where more than one traditional discipline interacts to provide rapid advances in these areas. Of interest are high risk basic research and attempts to understand or achieve something that has never been done before. Twenty-three areas, primarily in the physical and engineering sciences, are listed that are of interest to DoD in this round.

K-State in the News

New Paperlike Battery Can Withstand Extreme Cold

4/14/16 Yahoo!
Batteries run on chemical reactions, and lower temperatures make those reactions slower. But a battery developed by a Kansas State University engineer works through this problem with a radical new design.

The Cave Molly Lives in Toxic Water Alongside Lethal Predators, and the Local People Regularly Poison It. Somehow it is Thriving Anyway

4/13/16 BBC Earth
Michi Tobler from Kansas State University in the US has spent decades researching the fish. Tobler believes that, in order to survive, the mollies have had to change both their behaviour and their genes.

Cat Researchers See Progress Against Deadly FIP Disease

4/16/16 Examiner.com
An experimental treatment for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) has shown promise in reversing the fatal cat disease, according to researchers at Kansas State University.

A Better Nutritional Facts Panel

4/15/16 EurekAlert!
The ubiquitous nutrition facts panel has graced food packages for many years. But can it be improved? Results from a study led by Michigan State University and featured in a recent issue of the journal Food Policy indicates the answer is, "Yes." Obesity is a serious and growing global health crisis. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 40 percent of the world's adults are overweight — a number that's doubled since 1980. While many factors contribute to this epidemic, improving food labeling could be one tool to fight it. The team of scientists [including Nora Bello from Kansas State University] found that adding labels to the front of packages that presented a few key ingredients commonly associated with disease — sugar, sodium and fat — improves attention to critical nutritional information and selection of foods. The results support a growing body of research indicating that the government-mandated panels, which currently mandate comprehensive information on the side of products, could be improved.

Weak Internet Connectivity in Rural Areas Hindering Agricultural Production

4/13/16 High Plains Journal
“Internet connectivity is what I would consider an enabling technology,” said Terry Griffin, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University. “Without it, precision ag devices and other special technologies cannot be fully utilized until this infrastructure for wireless connectivity has been completed.”

From Our Peers

Taking Cues From Human Nutrition to Reduce Antibiotic Use in Livestock

4/13/16 NPR
"When you're feeding, you're always double-checking yourself to make sure it's going in the right lot," Nissen says. It's important — because these cows munch on more than just the common mix of hay, corn and distiller's grain. They're also charged with testing out different formulas developed by the researchers in the animal science department at Iowa State.

Compound From Hops Lowers Cholesterol, Blood Sugar and Weight Gain

4/18/16 EurekAlert
A recent study at Oregon State University has identified specific intake levels of xanthohumol, a natural flavonoid found in hops, that significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain.

Toddlers With Disabilities Less Likely to Engage in Physical Activity

4/14/16 Examiner.com
Disabled toddlers with mobility issues are less likely to participate in physical activity, play, or engagement with objects such as toys than their typical peers, say researchers at Oregon State University (OSU). The findings were announced on April 12, 2016, and were published in the journal Pediatric Physical Therapy.

Rubbish! Experts Degrade Claim That Every Bit of Plastic Ever Created is Still Around

4/14/16 PolitiFact
That's most often done in Europe and Japan, where about 12 percent of solid waste is plastic, said Anthony Andrady, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at North Carolina State University. Other plastic decomposes at varying rates, depending on the type of plastic and where it is.

Taking a Cue from Textile-Making to Engineer Human Tissue

4/14/16 Smithsonian
Reasoning that textiles and human tissues are not so different, Loboa and her team work with researchers at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University's College of Textiles to investigate the scaffold-building potential of traditional textile manufacturing processes.

RSCAD Trending Topics

The Pentagon Wants to Expand University Research Ties. Here’s What It’s Looking For.

Even after the budget-sequestration vote of 2013 put a cap on government agencies’ spending, the Department of Defense was determined to maintain its support for basic research. Now that Congress has temporarily lifted the caps, the department is eager to expand research partnerships at American universities.

This Study 40 Years Ago Could Have Reshaped the American Diet. But it was Never Fully Published.

It was one of the largest, most rigorous experiments ever conducted on an important diet question: How do fatty foods affect our health? Yet it took more than 40 years — that is, until today — for a clear picture of the results to reach the public.

The Looming Threat of Avian Flu

It has been a year since the bird flu tore through the Midwest: enough time for decimated farms to cash their indemnity checks and begin buying replacement birds; for the wholesale price of eggs, which doubled, to slide back to normal; for national awareness of the outbreak, the worst animal-disease epidemic in United States history, to dissipate. But among the poultry farmers who endured the flu, and others watching elsewhere in the country, there is a pervasive uneasiness, because after a year of scrutiny, federal and academic scientists still cannot say for sure how their properties became infected. Despite their own efforts to harden their defenses, and new federal plans to help them, it is possible that poultry farmers are not equipped for the flu to return among the United States’ billions of chickens; and that ranchers and pork producers might be equally unprepared if an unfamiliar disease detonated among the country’s 92 million beef and dairy cattle or 68 million pigs. Planning for epidemics, animal or human, is to a large extent based on what a disease did the last time. It is much more difficult to predict what a disease will do next.

NCI Opens Online Platform to Submit Ideas About Research for Cancer Moonshot

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health has launched an online platform to enable the research community and the public to submit ideas on the National Cancer Moonshot efforts. Submissions will be considered by the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) of scientific experts and patient advocates as they develop the scientific direction at NCI for the initiative. The announcement of this online platform coincides with the opening of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Ideas for advancing progress against cancer may be submitted at CancerResearchIdeas.cancer.gov.

Kansas Humanities Council Awards Seven Grants

KHC recently awarded $36,941 in Humanities and Heritage grants to seven Kansas organizations. Local contributions to the projects are estimated at $147,165.

Deadly Animal Prion Disease Appears in Europe

A highly contagious and deadly animal brain disorder has been detected in Europe for the first time. Scientists are now warning that the single case found in a wild reindeer might represent an unrecognized, widespread infection.

Researchers Have Found a 'Striking' New Side Effect from Eating Fast Food

Researchers at George Washington University have linked fast-food consumption to the presence of potentially harmful chemicals, a connection they argue could have "great public health significance." Specifically, the team found that people who eat fast food tend to have significantly higher levels of certain phthalates, which are commonly used in consumer products such as soap and makeup to make them less brittle but have been linked to a number of adverse health outcomes, including higher rates of infertility, especially among males.