August 11, 2016

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

August 11, 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

August 1 marked seven months on the job for me as iVPR/VPR. I’ve managed to get around to every college and many units therein to learn more about what you are doing in RSCAD and, most importantly, how we in the OVPR can make the research enterprise better for campus. A Top 50 Public Research University needs to provide the very best research services to our faculty, staff, and students.

In this issue of Momentum, you will see that we have listened to you about making it easier to navigate around our websites and find the things that you need. Sarah Hancock and her team have been building a better resource page for faculty, which we will formally roll out on Tuesday, August 16, just in time for the new faculty resource fair. Please take a look and provide feedback so we may continue to improve our services.

The start of a new semester is always a good time to think about safety in and around your research environment for faculty, staff, and students. Just like you should replace the batteries in your smoke detectors at home each time we change Daylight Savings/Standard Time, take a moment at the start of the semester to review your Safe Operating Procedures. Be sure to remind others around you to do the same. Safety in RSCAD is a culture that we must strive to maintain and nurture.

— Peter

Welcome New Faculty!

Find out about more about RSCAD support offered through OVPR units at the New Faculty and Unclassified Professionals Fair, 10:45–11:45 on August 16 in the Union Ballroom. Interim Associate Vice President for Research Mary Rezac will also present at the Faculty Session at 1:30 in Forum Hall.

New Faculty Resources Website

A new Faculty Resources website will launch on August 16. The site is designed to help faculty members find information to smooth the research process as they find funding, establish a collaboration, prepare a proposal, submit a proposal, manage awards, and manage intellectual property or submit an invention. Get a sneak peek. If you'd like to offer feedback, email Sarah Hancock at

Safety First

A report on a March 2016 hydrogen/oxygen explosion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa contains information and a number of recommendations about how universities can prevent similar problems. One key takeaway from the report is that “an effective laboratory safety program must be integrated into the research process rather than being an annual housekeeping exercise conducted days before an anticipated annual laboratory inspection.” Beyond that, such a program “needs to be thorough, consistent and sustained within the research institution. Firm guidance and support must be provided by campus leadership. It must be embraced at every level of the institution from the Chancellor down to beginning students or newly hired staff.” Read the report.

New Funding Opportunities

The Funding Connection

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

Highlights from this week's Funding Connection: Two opportunities were announced specifically for early-career faculty.

  • The Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program invites proposals from outstanding scientists early in their careers in the following program areas: Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Biological and Environmental Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics.
  • The Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) seeks proposals for its Young Investigator Program (YIP). This program’s purpose is to identify and support academic scientists and engineers who are in their first or second full-time tenure track appointment and who show exceptional promise for conducting creative research. Research areas of interest are described in the ONR Science and Technology (S&T) Department Section of ONR's website.

K-State in the News

A High-Tech Water Farm: Finney County Farmer Embraces Project to Show Its Pluses

7/71/16 Hutchinson News/Kansas Agland
Willis has 10 fields that are part of the technology farm – including eight circles that are a paired study and planted to the same crops. Half use the Dragon-Line – a precision mobile drip irrigation system aimed at efficiency – the other a conventional center-pivot nozzle system. The moisture probes give a look at what is going on below the surface, such as subsoil moisture levels and how quickly water reaches the root zone – which helps Willis make decisions on when to irrigate. He can access the information on his smartphone from anywhere, he said. Kansas State University donated a weather station and Willis is working with K-State specialists and his crop consultant to measure the differences and benefits.

Feedlot Nutritionist 'Boot Camp' Prepares Grad Students for Careers in Feedlot Industry

7/31/16 Hutchinson News
August 1 marks the beginning of the third biennial Feedlot Nutritionist Boot Camp, which will bring 30 feedlot nutrition graduate students from across the country to Amarillo, Texas to learn about the realities of commercial feedlot management. The training is run by animal science professors Mike Hubbert of New Mexico State University and Chris Reinhardt of Kansas State University, and sponsored by Merck Animal Health, Zoetis, Huvepharma, Zinpro, MWI Animal Health, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Servitech Laboratories, and DSM.

New 'Harry Potter' Book Charms Readers

7/30/16 CTV News
The latest story begins, rather appropriately, at the epilogue of the seventh book. Harry and his two best friends — Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley — are adults with young children who are preparing to head off to the legendary school of magic. It’s a natural place to revive the story, according to English professor Karin Westman who said the series has always been concerned with inter-generational perspectives.

Why City of God 's Director Took on Tonight's Opening Ceremony

8/05/16 Wired (More on K-State's Pinkall from the Kansas City Star)
Blame television for the ceremony becoming a global PR campaign. The spectacle reached new heights during the Cold War, with the USSR and the US flexing their muscles at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and the 1984 ceremonies in Los Angeles. “Moscow put on an enormous production of pageantry not seen since the 1936 games in Nazi Germany,” says Bryan Pinkall, a music professor at Kansas State University who maintains an online database of modern Olympics ceremonies and is helping stage musical numbers at tonight’s ceremony.

Could the Deadly Mosquito-Borne Yellow Fever Virus Cause a Zika-Like Epidemic in the Americas?

7/28/16 Medical News Today
"As we have recently seen with West Nile, chikungunya, and Zika viruses, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases continue to be a significant and unpredictable threat to mankind," says Stephen Higgs, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, and Director, Biosecurity Research Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS. "Despite studies of yellow fever that span over more than 100 years, we still lack critical understanding and resources to combat these diseases. The number of cases of yellow fever in several African countries continues to increase despite a major vaccination campaign. We are also seeing travel-related cases in the People's Republic of China. Elsewhere, yellow fever cases have been reported in Brazil, Chad, Colombia, Ghana, Guinea, and Peru."

KSU Professor Offers Tips for Password Protection

7/27/16 KAKE News
A Kansas State University associate professor said most password hijacking and data breach cases involve large data dumps. "They will just look through passwords to find the weaker ones," Eugene Vasserman of the KSU Computer Science Department said in a media release. "The weaker ones will fall within 48 hours." In contrast, Vasserman said stronger passwords could take weeks to crack, if they're ever cracked at all. He explained a lot depends on how simple your password is - and the more complex, the better.

From Our Peers

The U.S. Coast Is In an Unprecedented Hurricane Drought — Why This Is Terrifying

8/06/16 MSN News
Twenty-seven major hurricanes have occurred in the Atlantic Ocean basin since the last one, Wilma, struck Florida in 2005. The odds of this are 1 in 2,300, according to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher from Colorado State University.

Richer Homes Have More Kinds of Bugs Inside Them

8/03/16 Yahoo! Finance
Researchers from the California Academy of Sciences and North Carolina State University surveyed 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, and found three factors that all correlated with a greater range of arthropods — the name given to invertebrate animals with exoskeletons. This includes everything from insects and spiders to centipedes and crabs. Wealthier homes in cities are more likely to have gardens and more space for plants. This has a kind of cascading effect — the greater range of vegetation attracts a greater variety of arthropods.

Walnuts a Key Food to Improve Metabolism in Obese Mice

8/08/16 Yahoo! Finance
Neil Shay, in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, said further study is needed, but the findings suggest that eating modest helpings of walnuts together with other whole foods could help lower a person's risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Iowa Farmers Ripped Out Prairie; Now Some Hope It Can Save Them

8/07/16 Washington Post
This affection for prairie bucks a farming tradition that dates back to when settlers arrived in the Midwest to farm centuries ago and ripped out wild grasses to tame the earth. Over time, prairie was nearly eradicated. Farmers today are still destroying the little that is left. It is a colossal mistake, according to recent studies by researchers at Iowa State University. Not only does prairie, with its deep-rooted plants, soak up farm wastewater that pollutes rivers, it also enriches soil.

Florida Officials Go Into Damage-Control Mode Over Zika

8/06/16 U.S. News & World Report
For the most part, theme park visitors should be fine, said North Carolina State University entomologist Michael Reiskind, because the mosquito species most likely to spread the disease is less prevalent in Orlando and the theme parks are likely to spend heavily on insect control.

Museum Economics: How the Contemporary Art Boom Is Hurting the Bottom Line

8/03/16 SF Gate (by Robert Ekelund, Auburn University)
Art museums, which I would argue make some of the most important contributions to contemporary culture, number about 1,575 and are also very popular. One of the most famous, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (“the Met”), for example, saw a record 6.5 million visitors in 2015, making it the world’s third most popular museum. But record attendance doesn’t necessarily translate into record revenue. Just last month, the Met said it is laying off more than 100 of its employees as it tries to erase a US$10 million budget deficit, just a few months after it announced a hiring freeze and voluntary buyouts. Meanwhile, one of its rivals down the street, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), is flush with cash and just received another $100 million for an expansion and renovation. Yet only about three million people stopped by to see its art in 2015, ranking it 15th in the world. What explains the different trajectories? Why do some museums flourish while others flounder?

RSCAD Trending Topics

A Vanishing Aquifer: What Happens When the Water Runs Out?

Across western Kansas, water levels in the aquifer have declined in some places by 60 percent. The gap between what is withdrawn for irrigation and what is recharged is significant.

Legal Confusion Threatens to Slow Data Science

Knowledge from millions of biological studies encoded into one network — that is Daniel Himmelstein’s alluring description of Hetionet, a free online resource that melds data from 28 public sources on links between drugs, genes and diseases. But for a product built on public information, obtaining legal permissions has been surprisingly tough.

U.S. Government Starts Test of Zika Vaccine in Humans

The U.S. government on Tuesday for the first time tested its experimental vaccine against the Zika virus on an American volunteer. The start of the vaccine trial, at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, comes as officials were racing to contain an outbreak of the Zika virus in Miami, where it has already infected at least 14 people.

New Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences Announced

The National Academy of Sciences announced the creation of a new prize, the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences, to be presented annually beginning in 2017 with an award of $100,000. The NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences will recognize research by a mid-career scientist at a U.S. institution who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production.

The Innovation Campus: Building Better Ideas

Where once the campus amenities arms race was waged over luxury dorms and recreation facilities, now colleges and universities are building deluxe structures for the generation of wonderful ideas. They and their partners in industry are pouring millions into new buildings for business, engineering and applied learning that closely resemble the high-tech workplace, itself inspired by the minimally partitioned spaces of the garage and the factory.

Grants Seek to Foster a Culture Change in Humanities Graduate Education

On Tuesday, the [National Endowment for the Humanities] is announcing nearly $1.7 million in grants to 28 colleges to help them rethink how they prepare doctoral students for career paths outside higher education. "If graduate programs wish to make a case for the continuation of graduate education in the humanities," says William D. Adams, the endowment's chairman, "they're going to have to think about the professional futures of their students in entirely different ways. The future we're accustomed to training them for is disappearing."

NIH Moves to Lift Moratorium on Animal-Human Chimera Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced that the agency soon expects to lift a moratorium on funding for controversial experiments that add human stem cells to animal embryos, creating an organism that is part animal, part human. Instead, these so-called chimera studies will undergo an extra layer of ethical review but may ultimately be allowed to proceed.

Beyond CRISPR: A Guide to the Many Other Ways to Edit a Genome

The CRISPR–Cas9 tool enables scientists to alter genomes practically at will. Hailed as dramatically easier, cheaper and more versatile than previous technologies, it has blazed through labs around the world, finding new applications in medicine and basic research. But for all the devotion, CRISPR–Cas9 has its limitations. It is excellent at going to a particular location on the genome and cutting there, says bioengineer Prashant Mali at the University of California, San Diego. “But sometimes your application of interest demands a bit more.”

Opinion: NIH Must Support Broadly Focused Basic Research

Investing broadly in the basic knowledge of life processes paid off for the NIH, for medicine, and for society in ways that could scarcely have been imagined or justified when they were begun. These rewards came by pursuing fundamental biological discoveries wherever that might lead, and by recognizing that creative individual researchers can best anticipate where research needs to go to achieve the basic research breakthroughs of the future. The gamble that the NIH took that life was unified and could be studied in bacteria, yeast, insects, worms, and plants, as well as fish, frogs, mice, and humans, turned out to be a winning ticket that generated lottery-like returns. It made the United States the world leader in biological science, medicine, and biotechnology. Given this record, why is the NIH now narrowing its vision for basic research to favor subject matter preselected in-house and emphasizing primarily mammalian models?