December 1, 2016

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

December 1, 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

With just a few weeks remaining in the semester, I know that many of you are preparing those final proposals right before the holiday break — PreAwards Services stands ready to work with you to finalize and submit your grants. We received our FY17 funding update today at the five-month mark of the fiscal year. Last year at this time, we had received funding commitments of $56 million; this year, our sponsored funding is up to $75 million. With our proposal applications up to record numbers last year, we are starting to reap the benefits of all that hard work.

The OVPR staff met with the Graduate School staff and the President and Provost for our annual 2025 Strategic Plan update this week, so it has been a time of reflection for our team. The past five years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of proposals submitted for extramural funding, which is a testament to how faculty are working hard to garner support for their research ideas. Faculty are also applying to sources of funding that are new for K-State.

In the past 5 years, our engagement with industry is also up significantly. In particular, we have 32 Master Research Agreements developed with industry, which is an increase of 25 since 2011. We have also doubled our invention disclosures and royalty revenues since finalizing the 2025 plan. We continue to review best practices for industry engagement and have become one of the best universities to work with as a partner.

— Peter

Find Out More About Fulbright

Attend our info session TODAY at 3:30 in the Alumni Center Purple Pride Room to hear recent K-State Fulbright Scholar awardees talk about their experiences and share tips for successful submissions.

Calling All Postdocs

Registration is open for the National Postdoc Association Annual Meeting, the largest meeting and networking event in the postdoctoral community. The 2017 gathering is March 17-19 in San Francisco. Read more.

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.

Highlight from this week's Funding Connection: The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program provides short-term seminars abroad for U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities to improve their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. Each seminar features educational lectures and activities specifically designed for the group, including visits to local schools and organizations, meetings with teachers and students, and visits to cultural sites. Participants draw on their experiences during the program to create new, cross cultural curricula for their classrooms and schools back in the U.S. In 2017, summer programs will be offered in Chile for post-secondary educators. An Application Technical Assistance Webinar is being offered on December 5 at 2 pm EST.

K-State in the News

Racing For Alternatives in the Age of Antibiotic Resistance

11/18/16 USDA Blog
To address the concerns presented by AMR, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports extramural research, education, and extension activities and complements other USDA efforts to understand and mitigate AMR along the food chain. A NIFA grantee, Dr. H. Morgan Scott, at Kansas State University studies cattle and swine to identify antimicrobial alternatives that less readily drive resistance in microbes. Scott’s preliminary results suggest that many types of disease-causing bacteria have the potential to become or already are resistant to zinc- and copper-based antimicrobial substances.

Researchers Purge Contaminants From Water with Mobile Station

11/21/16 Fort Riley, Kansas News
With the help of staff from the Fort Riley Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, students and research­ers from Kansas State Univer­sity and the Environmental Protection Agency successfully completed a Net Zero project aimed at creating a mobile sta­tion that could clean water of contaminants. Net Zero is the U.S. Army Energy and Water Management program designed to find new ways to conserve, manage and maintain natural resources and energy at Army installations.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Grants New Innovator Award to Nine Early Career Scientists Pursuing Research with Transformative Potential

11/16/16 Houston Chronicle
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization that supports innovative science addressing food and agriculture challenges, today announced the first New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award recipients. The nine New Innovators will receive a total of $4.8 million over five years. Matching funds from each awardee’s respective institution will leverage the Foundation’s investment of up to $300,000 per recipient. The following individuals, who are assistant professors at the universities listed below, are the inaugural recipients of the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. Water Use: Isaya Kisekka, Ph.D., Kansas State University

NIFA Awards Kansas State University $1M to Protect Food From Pests, Diseases

11/28/16 EIN NewsDesk
Kansas State University has received more than $1 million from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to continue work that protects food from a variety of pests and diseases. NIFA’s vote of confidence comes in the form of $539,983 to support the Great Plains Diagnostic Network (GPDN), and $499,999 for research being conducted in Manhattan to eventually eliminate the use of methyl bromide in fumigants that control insects in wheat and rice.

Wheat Research Provides Improved Resistance to Viruses

11/25/16 KRVN 880 Rural Radio
If farmers could plant wheat without the constant worry of Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus (WSMV) spreading when the temperatures rise, we’d probably have fewer stressed farmers. Yields would be higher, and there would be less money going toward fungicides. That’s exactly what Mohammed Asif, Heartland Plant Innovations (HPI), and Guorong Zhang, Kansas State University wheat breeder, are trying to accomplish with the research they are conducting. “This project will give rise to wheat varieties that will minimize the yield losses due to Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus and Triticum Mosaic Virus,” Asif said.

From Our Peers

Mosquitoes May Infect You With More Than One Disease in a Single Bite

11/17/16 Huffington Post
As if disease-carrying mosquitoes weren’t bad enough in the first place, scientists have found the pesky insects may be able to infect us with two viruses at the same time. A small lab study that exposed mosquitoes to blood infected with varying combinations of dengue, Zika and chikungunya proved that the mosquitoes were able to pick up two viruses — Zika and chikungunya — at the same time. “We didn’t know what to expect, and now we know that [Aedes aegypti mosquitoes] are very susceptible to co-infection and can co-transmit at a relatively high frequency,” said lead investigator and Colorado State University researcher Claudia Rückert, who presented the study results at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene on Monday. “This could mean that there are more co-infected patients than we thought.”

Walking THIS Number of Minutes Will Boost Your Mood, According to New Science

11/15/16 MSN
You probably know that walking improves your cardiovascular health, and you may be aware that it can also lift your spirits. But we’re betting you didn’t realize how little time it takes for walking to work its mood-brightening magic. According to a brand-new study from psychologists at Iowa State University, walking for just 12 minutes—even without traditional happiness factors like sunshine, nature, social contact, and uptempo music, turns out to be a powerful mood lifter.

We’ll Be Growing Christmas Turkeys in Labs by 2030

11/28/16 Munchies
Researchers from North Carolina State University have begun cultivating lab-grown turkey with cellular agriculture, a technique that uses cell cultures to grow animal products. In an interview published last week in MIT Technology Review, they predicted that by 2030, our Christmas dinner tables will feature birds that started life in petri dishes. Paul Mozdziak, poultry science professor and the guy leading the experiments, took satellite cells (similar to stem cells) from a small piece of turkey breast and manipulated them in a lab so that they multiplied to form muscle fibres. Mozdziak and his team then placed these cells in a mixture of glucose and amino acids to trick them into thinking they were still inside a turkey, and so would keep dividing.

Researchers Seek Super Spuds Amid New Strains of Potatoes

11/24/16 Houston Chronicle
A program that teamed up three universities and three agricultural commissions in 1984 has recently experienced its fourth great success with a newly bred potato that seems to be superior in numerous ways to the old gold standard. The Northwest Potato Variety Development Program — which includes researchers from Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Oregon State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service — has introduced about 45 varieties since its inception, including four since 2000 that have rocketed to stardom — or its closest equivalent in the potato world — as McDonald's french fries.

Fewer Americans, Red and Blue, Are Spanking Their Children

11/15/16 Slate
In a recent article on Family Studies, Robert E. Larzelere, a professor of parenting at Oklahoma State University, provides a helpful overview this debate. He encourages parents to choose positive parenting discipline methods whenever possible, but believes that “opposing all negative consequences for all children all of the time is an unrealistic ideal for most parents—an ideal that has no adequate scientific support as an absolute for all children.” He believes the polarization of the time-out debate is counterproductive, because it makes parents believe that they have to pick one style of discipline. Instead, they need to understand the range of options considered safe and productive by experts and when to employ these different tactics.

RSCAD Trending Topics

New U.S. Research Policy Board Would Aim to Slash Regulatory Paperwork

Easing the regulatory burden on U.S. academic research certainly isn’t as sexy as curing cancer or understanding how the brain works. But creating an advisory body focused on eliminating government red tape—a tiny provision in a 996-page bill to accelerate medical research that could become law next month—is no less important to maintaining the health of the research community than is the infusion of billions of dollars, higher education lobbyists say.

With an Eye on Hunger, Scientists See Promise in Genetic Tinkering of Plants

A decade ago, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested a bold approach to improve the food supply: tinker with photosynthesis, the chemical reaction powering nearly all life on Earth. The idea was greeted skeptically in scientific circles and ignored by funding agencies. But one outfit with deep pockets, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, eventually paid attention, hoping the research might help alleviate global poverty. Now, after several years of work funded by the foundation, the scientists are reporting a remarkable result.

A Classic, Rural Job Now Attracting Silicon Valley Elites

As farming becomes increasingly data-centered, industry players from family farms to large-scale growers are turning to experts in engineering, software development and data science to help guide their decisions. Silicon Valley is slowly making its way onto the farm, with coders, analysts and entrepreneurs eager to use their skills in the agricultural sector.

CRISPR Could Turn Viruses Into Unstoppable Bio Weapons

The president's top science advisers are warning that new gene-editing technology could be turned into a biological weapon by transforming a common virus into an unstoppable drug-resistant killer. They recommend that the nation's public health system get a bigger slice of the U.S. budget to prepare. In a letter to President Barack Obama, the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology recommended that Congress create a $2 billion emergency preparedness fund for to be able to respond to any scenario of a biological weapon by boosting the ability to do research and produce vaccines more quickly. This funding could also to gain ground against emerging natural threats like Zika or Ebola, for example. The panel also wants better coordination between existing federal agencies to quickly identify a biological attack.

The Future of Neighborhoods: Five Projects That Show How We’ll Live

We’ll generate our own resources, raise the standard of ultra-affordable housing, get back to the land, and more.

What’s Wrong With Literary Studies?

If you exist outside the bubble of academic literary criticism, some of these ideas, like cultivating the inner life or talking about the pleasures of literature, might seem uncontroversial — obvious, even. But the recent debates over literary method have generated considerable hostility because they touch on existential questions of what English professors do. If they abandon suspicion, does that mean retreating into banal admiring description? Should criticism always have a political aim? Is it really necessary, as one of Felski’s allies puts it, for a literary critic to speak truth to power every time she reads Virginia Woolf?

Under Trump, Scientists May Get a Break on Data-Sharing

For academic researchers struggling to find a silver lining in the election of Donald J. Trump as U.S. president, their universities’ leading lobby association has a thought: It may mean a delay in new data-sharing rules. Almost four years after the Obama administration ordered federal agencies to make plans for requiring the public sharing of articles and data from government-sponsored research, the agencies’ policies are almost complete and ready to be put in place. But the Association of American Universities, which represents the nation’s premiere research institutions, is concerned that those policies aren’t sufficiently synchronized. And if they aren’t better aligned before they go into effect, the AAU contends, researchers will face an array of differing expectations and formats for recording, storing, and reporting their data.