July 21, 2016

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

July 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

Biosafety Case Studies Available

The UPMC Center for Health Security recently published a new report that summarizes the governmental policies and regulations for biosafety in research laboratories in the nations of Brazil, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Kenya, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Through describing a variety of biosafety governance approaches in these nations, the authors hoped to find areas of commonality which could be further developed into international norms. Take a look!

PreAward Services Updates Contract Negotiating Assignments

Upcoming staff changes necessitated some new assignments. Read more about what contract negotiators do and find out who serves your college, department, or unit.

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 National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that ensure that graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. This is a limited submission with notification of proposal submission plans due to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs by September 9, 2016 via orsp@ksu.edu.

K-State in the News

The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Eat Cake Batter

7/13/16 Huffington Post
Most of us know that raw eggs in cookie dough and cake batter can carry salmonella, but a new warning from the FDA and surge of product recalls is a grim reminder that raw flour could be making us sick, too. “There is much more data currently available on the risk of contamination in fresh produce, as well as information on how to prevent contamination in fresh produce,” Londa Nwadike, an assistant professor of food safety and an extension food safety specialist at the University of Missouri and Kansas State University, told HuffPost in en email. “There are currently more education and outreach efforts all along the produce chain ... from farmers to transporters to processors, retailers, consumers” to prevent contamination in produce, she explained.

Research Proving Effectiveness of SafeGain, An Encapsulated Lysine Supplement To Be Presented At National American Society of Animal Science Conference

7/13/16 Yahoo! Finance
Results for studies conducted at Kansas State University validating the effectiveness of SafeGain will be presented to scientists, nutritionists, cattle industry professionals and other members of the American Society of Animal Science in Salt Lake City.

Amphibians May Carry, Spread Infectious Diseases

7/18/16 Breibart
MANHATTAN, Kan., July 18 (UPI) — New research suggests wild amphibians may play a significant and underappreciated role in hosting and facilitating the spread of infectious diseases. Scientists say the interferon systems of amphibians — the protein-signaling systems that govern the immune system and fight disease — is both unique and largely ignored by the scientific literature. “Amphibians have a previously unknown complexity within their antimicrobial interferon system, which is highly and differentially responsive to influenza infections,” Yongming Sang, research associate professor of anatomy and physiology at Kansas State University, said in a news release. “This suggests the need to study the possible role of wild amphibians as overlooked reservoirs-end hosts for influenza and other zoonotic pathogenic infections.”

Scientists Study Effects of Animal Live Streams on Humans

7/18/16 Newsweek
Two Kansas State University researchers, Jeffrey Skibins and Ryan Sharp, have launched a multiyear study of a brown bear live cam at Katmai National Park in Alaska. "Ultimately we want to know how viewers are affected by seeing something online—not having an actual experience, but having the virtual experience of viewing animals in nature,” Skibins said in a statement. “Does it create a conservation behavior action within the viewer? Does it cause people to want to get involved in saving these animals?"

Business Watch: K-State Researchers Invent, Patent New Class of Lasers

7/16/16 Topeka Capital-Journal
A team of Kansas State University physics researchers, working with a team from across the country, developed a new laser that could help measure distances, identify certain gases in the atmosphere and send images of the earth from space. “These energy-efficient lasers also are portable, produce light at difficult-to-reach wavelengths and have the potential to scale to high-powered versions,” a KSU press release said. Working on the project were Brian Washburn and Kristan Corwin, both associate professors of physics, Andrew Jones, a May 2012 doctoral graduate in physics, and Rajesh Kadel, a May 2014 doctoral graduate in physics.

K-State Researcher: The Zika Risk is Real for America’s Olympians

7/13/16 WIBW 13 News
Researchers at K-State Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) are on the front lines of finding a vaccine for the Zika Virus. It's top of mind right now for athletes dropping out of the Olympics in Brazil over health concerns. According to the Center for Disease Control, Zika cases in Rio are more than triple the country's average. The growing concern has produced a growing effort to find a vaccine. "Will we have a vaccine? I'm confident that we will. Could it be produced fairly soon? Yea, maybe within months or a year or so," said Dr. Stephen Higgs, research director at BRI.

From Our Peers

Lucky Bug Eluded Eternal Entombment in 50 Million-Year-Old Amber

7/14/16 Yahoo! News
An Oregon State University scientist on Thursday described a remarkable piece of amber -fossilized tree sap - containing a mushroom, a strand of mammalian hair and the recently shed exoskeleton of an insect that got away from the oozing sticky stuff in the nick of time, escaping eternal entombment. The tiny bug looks similar to insects alive today known as walking sticks, whose stick-like appearance provides camouflage that helps keep them safe from hungry birds and other predators. The amber memorialized a little scene that unfolded in an ancient subtropical forest of evergreen trees roughly 15 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct and mammals began to assume their new position as Earth's dominant land animals.

Study: Genes May Determine What Diet Works for You

7/15/16 Psychology Today Blog
Groundbreaking genetic research has found, for the first time that your genes may influence how you respond to a specific diet. The latest findings suggest that the way each person’s body metabolizes particular types of food is highly individualized. The healthiest food option for one person, may not be the optimal dietary choice for someone else. This research was conducted by William Barrington, Ph.D., a researcher from North Carolina State University in the laboratory of David Threadgill, Ph.D., at Texas A&M University. These findings will be presented in a lecture, "Pathophysiological Responses to Dietary Patterns Differ with Genetic Backgrounds," at The Allied Genetics Conference on July 15, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Based on this cutting-edge research, it appears that one reason most diets fail may be due to a previously unrecognized genetic component—which determines how each person's unique body metabolizes different foods.

Ptarmigan in Colorado Have Varied Reproduction, Not Likely Linked to Warming Trends

7/6/16 Science Daily
Animals that live at high elevations are often assumed to be at risk for extinction as habitats warm and change. But a new study led by Colorado State University researchers found that ptarmigan, which live in cold ecosystems, are not strongly affected by fluctuations in seasonal weather at two populations studied in Colorado. The results, published July 15 in the journal PLOS ONE, are surprising, given the general perception of alpine animal populations as vulnerable to recent climate warming, study authors said. Ptarmigan are grouse that live in cold ecosystems, such as alpine and tundra habitats, said Greg Wann, Ph.D. candidate in CSU's Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and a member of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory.

Detecting Melanoma Early, Without a Biopsy

7/13/16 EurekAlert!
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that becomes dangerous when it spreads, but is treatable in its early stages. Doctors diagnose melanoma by cutting away a piece of a suspicious skin lesion -- a procedure known as a biopsy -- and testing it for malignant cells. It's an imperfect, invasive method that Colorado State University researcher Jesse Wilson wants to improve. His goal is to make early detection of melanoma faster, cheaper and less invasive than a biopsy.

Are Grocery Taxes Keeping People From Food They Need?

7/18/16 StreetInsider.com
There are currently 14 states with a tax on groceries. Some are statewide, others vary by county. Either way, there are big concerns about those taxes impacting peoples' ability to get the food they need. In Alabama, for example, people have bumper stickers that read "untax groceries," and there are movements in other states to raise awareness of the consequences of these taxes and food insecurity the measure of how people have access to affordable and nutritious food. "We saw a clear correlation between food insecurity and food taxes," said Norbert L. Wilson, professor at Auburn University and lead author of "Do Grocery Food Sales Taxes Cause Food Insecurity?" Wilson and his co-authors found household eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) but did not receive SNAP benefits had higher rates of food insecurity when grocery taxes were applied. "When individuals use their EBT card they are not charged the tax," Wilson said. "Eligible non-SNAP participants would be better served if they used the benefits."

RSCAD Trending Topics

Gates Foundation to Invest $5 Billion in Africa Over Five Years

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates has announced that the foundation will invest $5 billion over the next five years in support of health and anti-poverty initiatives in Africa. Announced by Gates during the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the University of Pretoria on Sunday, the commitment significantly boosts the foundation's funding for initiatives on the continent, which has totaled $9 billion over the last fifteen years. In his remarks, Gates noted the progress African countries have made in reducing child mortality, eradicating polio, and fighting malaria and the HIV/AIDS epidemic and pointed to expanded access to contraceptives, the creation of new vaccines that protect children from pneumonia and severe diarrhea, and investments in strong, community-based primary healthcare systems in Malawi, Ethiopia, and Rwanda as additional signs of progress.

This Week in Appropriations: Things Fall Apart

This week, the House advanced its NIH funding bill at the committee level, approving large boosts for Alzheimer’s research, but underfunding (for now) the Administration’s request for cancer funding. Also, the full House approved its Interior spending bill amidst partisan debate over EPA funding and its regulatory authority. Meanwhile, the Senate failed to advance both the annual Defense spending bill and a Zika funding measure attached to the Veterans bill for the second time. With lawmakers departing for a seven-week summer recess, the prospect of a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown has already been a subject of debate in Congress; some conservative Republicans have argued for a six-month CR that would push final appropriations into March 2017, though others want to wrap appropriations up with an omnibus before the end of the year.

Science Students Learn to Use Social Media to Communicate Research

Scientists these days don’t just need to be good at putting their ideas into writing; they need to know how to post them on Twitter and Facebook. That’s the premise of an unusual course at the California Institute of Technology, "Social Media for Scientists," which was first offered this past spring by Mark E. Davis, a professor of chemical engineering, and Sarah Mojarad, a communications program manager for social media. In the course, they taught both undergraduate and graduate students in science and engineering how to use digital platforms to communicate research to both scientists and nonscientists.

Calculus I Factors Women Out of STEM Degrees

It's no secret that Calculus I is a major hurdle in the quest for a science degree. But, according to a new paper by Colorado State University researchers, the class is far more likely to discourage women than men from continuing on in their chosen field. How much more likely? One-and-a-half times. And it doesn't take a math degree to spot that as a serious imbalance. The findings, published in PLOS ONE, suggest that a major factor in women's decision to leave a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) path after Calculus I isn't ability, but confidence in their ability.

Why Brexit May Be a Deadly Experiment for Science

Public scientific research is one of Britain’s great unsung industries. Its turnover is around £8bn, it employs some 100,000 researchers and it leads the world. After the US, we produce more cited research papers than anyone else. We’re not as good as we should be in translating all that effort into companies, products and services. But without its stimulus, our moderate levels of private business research, itself employing another 150,000 researchers, would be even lower. Nonetheless, as a self-standing industry, public scientific research is one of our most competitive and a top exporter. Or it was. It is one of the many areas of our economic life likely to take an irreparable hit as Britain leaves the EU. Britain’s leadership position was built on the excellence of its science, capacity to attract talent and the extraordinary ability of its scientists to build international networks bidding for EU research money. The EU is spending £70bn on scientific research in its Horizon 2020programme: up until 23 June, more of it was being allocated to British-led partnerships than any other member state.

From the Chronicle Archives: The Soul of the Research University

For many people who have spent their lives working in higher education, mass higher education and research universities make for a perfect fit: Together they express both the public service and the intellectual ambitions of educators. And during most of the 20th century, especially the years between 1950 and 1975, the two big ideas grew and flourished in tandem. But they aren’t the same idea. Mass higher education, conceptually, is practical, low cost, skills oriented, and mainly concerned with teaching. It caught on because state legislatures and businesses saw it as a means of economic development and a supplier of personnel, and because families saw it as a way of ensuring a place in the middle class for their children. Research universities, on the other hand, grant extraordinary freedom and empowerment to a small, elaborately trained and selected group of people whose mission is to pursue knowledge and understanding without the constraints of immediate practical applicability under which most of the rest of the world has to operate. Some of their work is subsidized directly by the federal government and by private donors, but they also live under the economic protection that very large and successful institutions can provide to some of their component parts.