August 18, 2016

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

August 18, 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

This week, we launched our new and improved website for faculty resources in the Office of the Vice President for Research. If you haven’t already looked it over, please do so. We would like you to provide feedback on the new site and how we might improve it.

If you are a postdoc, or have one working with you, please check out the program for Postdoctoral Appreciation Week, below. We are hoping to continue to build a network of professionals on campus who are sharing common experiences and seeking professional development opportunities.

Finally, you will note that NIH has announced its new postdoctoral fellows stipends effective December 1, 2016, in response to changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is not clear that all funding agencies will follow suit or by when. Provost Mason, VP Johnson, and I are monitoring the national landscape for postdoctoral fellows, including reports from The Chronicle , APLU (which is conducting a national survey), and the National Postdoctoral Association. We will be bringing a proposal for how K-State can respond to the changes in federal law to the deans for consideration in the early part of the semester.

— Peter

Faculty Resources Web Overhaul

A new Faculty Resources website launched this week. 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. T ake a look. If you'd like to offer feedback, email Sarah Hancock at

Postdoctoral Appreciation Week

Mark your calendar to celebrate National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week September 19-23. Read about the events and register to attend as we celebrate the contributions of these vital research colleagues. Encourage your postdocs to attend!


Did you miss VPR Dorhout's letter about fiscal year 2016 research awards? Read it here.

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: NSF’s Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering (BBE) program seeks fundamental engineering research that advances the understanding of cellular and biomolecular processes in engineering biology. This work should eventually lead to the development of enabling technology for advanced manufacturing and/or applications in support of the biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, and bioenergy industries, or have applications in health or the environment. A quantitative treatment of biological and engineering problems of biological processes is considered vital to successful research projects in the BBE program.

K-State in the News

EPA Awards $4.5 Million to Advance Air Monitoring Technology

8/9/16 JBK Environmental (also featured in EurekAlert!)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced grants to six research organizations to develop and use low-cost air pollution sensor technology, while engaging communities to learn about their local air quality. One of the grants, which are funded through the EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is being awarded to Kansas State University. They will create a partnership with local organizations in South Chicago to evaluate the effects of community-led research on the community’s understanding of air pollution. Researchers will develop sustainable, local strategies to monitor, analyze, and share measurement results about air pollutants.

Field Days Scheduled for Water Technology Farms in Larned and Garden City

8/14/16 Hutchinson News
K-State Research and Extension is partnering with public and private entities, including agriculture- and irrigation-related companies, producer associations, water agencies and farm owners and managers to establish the two farm sites and host the tours. The sites are also championed by the Kansas Water Vision Plan to focus on implementing irrigation technology to help extend the life of irrigation from a depleting water supply.

Scientists Sequence the Genome of This Hungry Caterpillar

8/15/16 Tech Times (also featured in EurekAlert!)
The genome of a very hungry and "gluttonous" caterpillar known as the tobacco hornworm has been successfully sequenced by a team of international scientists. The Kansas State University-led research team has made the details of their genome sequence study available to the public in the hopes of opening up new research. "This project represents years of collaborative research across the world," says Professor Michael Kanost, a biochemistry expert from Kansas State and lead author of the genome study.

Kansas State University’s CEEZAD Receives $2.3 Million Grant for Vaccine Research

8/12/16 High Plains Journal
The Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases, or CEEZAD, at Kansas State University will use a $2.3 million federal grant to study the safety in livestock of a newly developed vaccine to protect humans from the Ebola Zaire virus. The grant is from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in the U.S. Department of Defense through a collaboration with the commercial firm NewLink Genetics. A $100,000 matching contribution from the state of Kansas’ NBAF Transition Funds brings the total project funding to $2.4 million. The university’s Biosecurity Research Institute will be used to conduct the project.

Pet Food Needs More Shared Science and Research

8/12/16 Petfood
Greg Aldrich, PhD, research associate professor and head of the Pet Food Program at Kansas State University, has proposed forming a scientific society, similar to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in human food. As a nonprofit organization, such a society could be funded by membership dues and possibly corporate grants, which could be used to support research that would be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Like IFT, it could also involve and encourage students interested in pet food, helping to develop the next generation of our industry’s professionals.

From Our Peers

Self-Destructing Battery Dissolves in Water Within 30 Minutes

8/9/16 MSN News
If spy agencies want to make self-destructing gadgets that leave no trace, their every component should be able to go kaput, including their batteries. Various research teams have been trying develop transient batteries for a while now, but according to a group of scientists from Iowa State University, their creation is the first one that's able to "demonstrate the power, stability and shelf life for practical use." The team's self-destruction lithium-ion battery can power a calculator for 15 minutes and dissolve in water within half an hour.

Twenty-One Land-Grant Universities Create Animal Feed Database

8/9/16 Yahoo! Finance
Twenty-one land-grant institutions, including Auburn, Iowa State, North Carolina State and others, and partner organizations are collaborating to provide researchers, Extension professionals, regulators, feed industries, and producers with up-to-date, research-based information on the nutrient needs of agricultural animals. Since forming in 2010, the National Animal Nutrition Program has created a database of animal feed ingredients. The database is a vital tool to inform cost-effective production decisions, animal welfare policies and procedures, and to guarantee the safety and nutritional value of consumers' food.

After-Hours Work Email No Friend of the Family

8/10/16 WebMD
Experts say everyone needs time off, untethered from their inbox, to replenish their physical and mental resources. Belkin and study co-authors, William Becker of Virginia Tech and Samantha Conroy of Colorado State University, believe their study may be one of the first to identify email expectations as a job stressor. Constant electronic connectivity has changed the workplace for better and for worse, the researchers said. Yes, it aids job flexibility. But studies show it also poses a threat to employees' health and well-being because they can't physically or emotionally unplug from the job. And it can throw work-family balance out of kilter by blurring boundaries between business time and personal time.

Ecosystems in the Southeastern US Are Vulnerable to Climate Change

8/11/16 Science Daily
At least several southeastern U.S. ecosystems are highly vulnerable to the impacts of present and future climate change, according to two new USGS reports on research conducted by scientists with Interior Department's Southeast Climate Science Center. "From the mountains to the coast, the southeastern U.S. contains ecosystems that harbor incredible biodiversity," said Jennifer Costanza, lead author of one of the reports and a scientist with North Carolina State University. "Many of those ecosystems are already highly at risk from urbanization and other human land use change. Identifying the ecosystems at risk from climate change will help inform conservation and management to ensure we don't lose that biodiversity."

Let’s Roll: Material for Polymer Solar Cells May Lend Itself to Large-Area Processing

8/12/16 Science Daily
New research results reported by an international team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) indicate that the "sweet spot" for mass-producing polymer solar cells -- a tantalizing prospect for decades -- may be far larger than dictated by the conventional wisdom. In experiments using a mock-up of a high-volume, roll-to-roll processing method, the researchers produced polymer-based solar cells with a "power conversion efficiency" of better than 9.5 percent, just shy of the minimum commercial target of 10 percent. "It's clear that the type of processing method used influences the shape of the domains and their size distribution in the final coating, but these distinctly different morphologies do not necessarily undermine performance," said Harald Ade, a collaborator from North Carolina State University. "We think these findings provide important clues for designing polymer solar cells optimized for roll-to-roll processing."

A Major Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest Looks Even Likelier

8/11/16 The Atlantic
A team of researchers led by Chris Goldfinger, a geologist at Oregon State University, has found evidence that at least 43 major earthquakes have occurred in the last 10,000 years. That number is slightly larger than previously estimated, which means that—over the long time period—it significantly alters the likelihood of any one event occurring.

RSCAD Trending Topics

NIH Sets New Postdoc Stipend Levels

In response to a new rule governing overtime pay in the United States , the National Institutes of Health yesterday announced its new, increased postdoc stipend levels , which will go into effect 1 December 2016. The starting base salary will be $47,484, up approximately 9% from the 2016 level of $43,692 and just above the threshold of $47,476, below which employers are required to pay employees for overtime. The new rates apply specifically to those supported by Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSAs), but they are likely to be relevant to postdocs funded by other mechanisms as well because many institutions use the NRSA levels as guidelines for setting postdoctoral salaries.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Webinar

NSF EPSCoR is hosting a webinar on Monday, August 29, 2016 at 2 pm (EDT) for all those interested in learning more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides a prestigious award that supports research-oriented students in a wide range of STEM and social science fields during graduate school. This webinar will provide an overview of the GRFP and program updates for the FY 2017 competition (incl. deadlines, application and review processes) and other program activities such as GROW ( The intended audience is faculty and university administrators, so please distribute this invitation to all who may be interested. No registration necessary. For more GRFP information visit Read login instructions for the webinar.

Here’s a strike against the idea that public master’s-degree-granting colleges and universities are inefficient bureaucracies that can quickly slash their way to lean, machinelike operations if they just cut enough fat from next year’s budget.
New research finds relatively few such institutions are inefficient when it comes to costs. It also finds the cost inefficiencies that do exist tend to be long-term, like structural practices and budgeting strategies -- not short-term, like management issues that can be changed overnight.

How the Microbes Inside Us Went From Enemies to Purported Superheaters

"Microbes have always ruled the planet but for the first time in history, they are fashionable," writes Ed Yong in his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, on sale Tuesday. Yong, a U.K.-based science writer, describes how humans ignored, feared and then lauded the "microscopic menagerie" living inside us and other animals. He explains how these resident bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses, known collectively as the microbiome, form intimate partnerships with their hosts — contributing to everything from the glow of a squid's light organ to the development of our own immune systems. Scientists are testing whether microbes (especially bacteria) have the potential to treat asthma, allergies, obesity and a range of hard-to-treat infections. But Yong questions whether our growing enthusiasm for these microbes has outstripped the scientific evidence.

Increasing the Number of American Engineers, Scientists

A new study byHuy Le, associate professor of management at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), identifies factors that could lead more young students to successful careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Artists Have the Skills Businesses Need in This Economy

More young people are being guided into business majors in college, and often the shoe fits. But marketing, finance and other business disciplines are not the only means to corporate leadership. The fact is that in today’s wireless global marketplace, for some students, majoring in design and the arts may be the best routes up the corporate ladder.

Could Smallpox Return From the Grave?

Scientists are worried that the deadly disease smallpox could return because permafrost is melting close to where hundreds of infected bodies were buried.

2015 Annual Reports Are Available From USDA NIFA and the Federal Select Agent Program