News & Updates

University of Kansas scientists discover polyps will let unrelated 'others' fuse to them and share tissue

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University of Kansas scientists discovered that polyps have no qualms about treating a nonrelated individual like part of the family.

The polyps are plankton-eating Hydrozoa — relatives to jellyfish and sea anemones — that live in shallow waters, sharing precious space and scarce resources in a spot of the ocean that’s teeming with life, from barnacles and clams to other hydrozoans. Each individual polyp is about a centimeter long and bright pink. A colony fits in two cupped hands.

The findings appear in the journal Evolution Letters and were published by researchers at the University of Kansas: Paulyn Cartwright, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology; Maria Orive, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology; and doctoral candidate Sally Chang.

In previous research, Cartwright found that unlike their loner relatives, Ectopleura larynx form colonies of “baby” polyps that fuse to the “mother” and share a gastrovascular cavity — basically, a stomach.

“We just got our minds wrapped around the idea that moms and offspring are fusing and sharing resources and that they’re related, but this was very surprising,” Cartwright said of seeing nonrelated individuals as part of one, big happy family. “And they don’t seem to have a problem with it.”

“I collect them in Maine, and everybody knows what they are when you explain them,” Cartwright said. “They’re colorful, and they grow on docks. They’re very conspicuous.”

These particular polyp colonies are different from others in that they are not simply composed of a mother cloning itself. Rather, they reproduce sexually, and the offspring fuse to the parent.

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Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

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Brown University researchers and collaborators from Tsinghua University in China have shown that nanoclusters made from boron and lanthanide elements form highly stable and symmetric structures with interesting magnetic properties.

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that these nanoclusters may be useful as molecular magnets or assembled into magnetic nanowires. The research also helps shed light on the structure and chemical bonding of bulk boron lanthanides, which may help in engineering new boride materials.

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Scientists from UNL, WKU and UAH are part of team studying the connection between Great Plains precipitation and agricultural irrigation

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To further understand how irrigation may be affecting precipitation, scientists from six partner institutions -- the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Western Kentucky University (WKU), University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Center for Severe Weather Research have teamed up for a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project known as the Great Plains Irrigation Experiment, or GRAINEX. Scientists began collecting data in late May across a 3,600-square-mile area in southeastern Nebraska. The data collection will continue through the end of July.

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A team of physicists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Stanford University and Europe has captured the clearest glimpse yet of a photochemical reaction

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A team of physicists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Stanford University and Europe has captured the clearest glimpse yet of a photochemical reaction — the type of light-fueled molecular transformations responsible for photosynthesis, vision and the ozone layer.

The researchers precisely recorded how the atomic nuclei and chemical bonds of a five-atom molecule responded when being struck by a laser. Appearing in the June 6 edition of the journal Science, the team’s study marks the culmination of a years-long effort to advance the quality of “molecular movies” from that of a rudimentary stop-motion animation to a high-definition motion picture.

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Researchers at Nemours and the University of Delaware have developed a blood test predictive of spastic cerebral palsy (CP).

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When University of Delaware molecular biologist Adam Marsh was studying the DNA of worms living in Antarctica’s frigid seas to understand how the organisms managed to survive—and thrive—in the extremely harsh polar environment, he never imagined his work might one day have a human connection.

But it turns out that the genome of these Antarctic worms is very similar to ours in terms of the number and types of genes present. And the pioneering technique Marsh developed to analyze their genetic activity is proving valuable for human health care research.

Marsh and a business partner established a biotechnology company to make that technique available for such study. Specifically, Marsh’s method uses next-generation genetic sequencing data to measure how cells control the way genes are turned on or off, a process known as DNA methylation.

Now, a Delaware team has released a study in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Bioinformatics showing that DNA methylation patterns in circulating blood cells can be used to help identify spastic cerebral palsy (CP) patients.

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NSF awards more than $150 million to early career researchers in engineering and computer science, including researchers in EPSCoR states

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested $150 million in 307 early career engineering and computer science faculty to advance fields from intelligent infrastructure and collaborative robots to secure communications and brain-related technologies.

Over the next five years, each researcher will receive up to $500,000 from NSF to build a firm scientific footing for solving challenges and scaling new heights for the nation, as well as serve as academic role models in research and education.

"NSF is committed to helping academic scientists and engineers launch careers of discovery and leadership," said Dawn Tilbury, head of NSF's Engineering (ENG) directorate. "With NSF CAREER awards, junior STEM faculty have the opportunity to tackle important and unique research challenges and to make our country's future healthier, safer and more prosperous."

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program, which extends across all the agency's science and engineering directorates, allows promising junior faculty to pursue cutting-edge research while simultaneously advancing excellence in education.

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Boise State University Professor Co-Authors Recent Paper Published in Science on the "influence of human disturbance on wildlife nocturnality"

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Managing Idaho's Landscapes for Ecosystem Services (MILES) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Infrastructure Improvement award managed by Idaho EPSCoR. One of the faculty hired through the program is Boise State Assistant Professor Neil Carter who co-authored a paper recently published in the journal Science that shows how animals have changed their habits and sleep patterns to avoid human interactions. The paper is garnering press attention including a recent interview with NPR's Susan Davis. Read a transcript of the interview here. To read the paper, click here.

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Entomology paper credits NSF EPSCoR 20 years after initial project funding

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In 1998, a $3.8M NSF-Idaho EPSCoR award was made to support research in the areas of molecular ecology and environmental science and engineering at Idaho's higher-education institutions. The funds were used to increase the long-term productivity of Idaho's young research faculty by improving the research tools and human talent available to them for furthering their ongoing investigations.

In a 2018 Annual Review of Entomology paper entitled, "Insect-Borne Plant Pathogens and Their Vectors", authors Eigenbrode, Bosque-Perez, and Davis credit the 1998 NSF-Idaho EPScoR award, demonstrating the legacy and lasting impact NSF EPSCoR has on research in Idaho.

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NIGMS Announces that Ming Lei Will Lead the NIGMS Division for Research Capacity Building

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The following announcement was released by NIGMS:

NIGMS Announcement:

Ming Lei to Direct NIGMS Division for Research Capacity Building

Announcement June 11, 2018

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Director Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., has announced the selection of Ming Lei, Ph.D., as director of the Institute's Division for Research Capacity Building (DRCB). Lei is expected to join the Institute later this month.

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Congratulations to 2018-2019 NIH Medical Scholars Program Awardees from the University of Nevada, Reno and from the University of Mississippi Medical School of Dentistry

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The National Institutes of Health has selected 37 talented students for the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP). The research training program allows medical, dental, and veterinary students to pause their university studies to live on the intramural campus of NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and conduct basic, clinical, or translational research. The accepted scholars begin their fellowship in July/August 2018.

Among the students selected are two from institutions in IDeA states: Quynh Nguyen from the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistryin Jackson, MS and Durin Uddin from the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine.

The NIH MRSP received over 115 applications during the 2018-2019 submission cycle.

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