News & Updates

New NSF EPSCoR Section Head Announced

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The following communication was released on January 26 by Dr. Suzanne Iacono, Head of NSF's Office of Integrative Activities:

Effective January 22, 2018, Dr. Loretta A. Moore will serve as the Section Head for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) section of the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) at the National Science Foundation (NSF).  

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Missouri EPSCOR Vinobot Featured by NSF

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On February 1, 2018, NSF featured a story about Missouri EPSCoR as one of the agency's "Impact" news articles.  Developing drought-tolerant corn that makes efficient use of available water will be vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. University of Missouri researchers have developed two robotic systems, the Vinobot and the Vinoculer to study how corn maintains root growth during drought conditions. The mobile robots have sensors and robotic arms to collect temperature, humidity and light intensity at three different heights on the corn plant, assessing growth, development, yield, tolerance and resistance to environmental stressors by correlating these to physiology and shape of the plants. Inexpensive and efficient, the Vinobots generate more data than aerial vehicles and are changing the way agriculturalists collect data.

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Guam EPSCoR Project Highlighted as an "Impact" News Item by NSF

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In Guam, researchers developed a method for mapping underwater areas that is transforming how oceanographers observe the seafloor. Data from global positioning satellites are the primary method for mapping the Earth, but it's impossible for global positioning system (GPS) signals to pass through water, making detailed mapping of underwater features difficult. By synchronizing underwater cameras with GPS buoys and using software to geo-tag photographs, NSF-funded researchers have mapped all of Guam's Pago Bay and Apra Harbor.

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A Brown University Study Suggests Tidal Cycles Could Help Predict Volcanic Eruptions

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Just before a surprise eruption of New Zealand’s Ruapehu volcano in 2007, seismic tremor near its crater became tightly correlated with twice-monthly changes in the strength of tidal forces, a new study has found. The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that signals associated with tidal cycles could potentially provide advanced warning of certain types of volcanic eruptions.

“Looking at data for this volcano spanning about 12 years, we found that this correlation between the amplitude of seismic tremor and tidal cycles developed only in the three months before this eruption,” said Társilo Girona, the study’s lead author. “What that suggests is that the tides could provide a probe for telling us whether or not a volcano has entered a critical state.”

Girona, a NASA postdoctoral fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, led the research during a postdoctoral appointment at Brown University, working with Brown professor Christian Huber and Corentin Caudron, a postdoctoral researcher at the Ghent University in Belgium.

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Cloud seeding for snow: Does it work? University of Wyoming Scientist Contributes to Report on First Quantifiable Observations

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For the first time, scientists have obtained direct, quantifiable observations of cloud seeding for increased snowfall -- from the growth of ice crystals, through the processes that occur in clouds, to the eventual snowfall.

The National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported project, dubbed SNOWIE (Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds -- the Idaho Experiment), took place from Jan. 7 to March 17, 2017, in and near Idaho's Payette Basin, located approximately 50 miles north of Boise.

The research was conducted in concert with the Boise-based Idaho Power Company, which provides a large percentage of its electrical power through hydroelectric dams.

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Breakthrough study shows how plants sense the world

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Plants lack eyes and ears, but they can still see, hear, smell and respond to environmental cues and dangers — especially to virulent pathogens. They do this with the aid of hundreds of membrane proteins that can sense microbes or other stresses.

Only a small portion of these sensing proteins have been studied through classical genetics, and knowledge on how these sensors function by forming complexes with one another is scarce. Now, an international team of researchers from four nations — including Shahid Mukhtar, Ph.D., and graduate student Timothy “TC” Howton at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — has created the first network map for 200 of these proteins. The map shows how a few key proteins act as master nodes critical for network integrity, and the map also reveals unknown interactions.

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New Study: Industry Conservation Ethic Proves Critical to Gulf of Maine Lobster Fishery

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A new study, led by scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and colleagues at the University of Maine and NOAA, demonstrates how conservation practices championed by Maine lobstermen help make the lobster fishery resilient to climate change.

For generations, lobstermen in Maine have returned large lobsters to the sea and have designed a special way of marking egg-bearing lobsters to give them further protection. This conservation culture distinguishes the Gulf of Maine fishery from southern New England, where fishermen have not historically taken the same steps to preserve large, reproductive lobsters.

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Research reveals evidence of new population of ancient Native Americans

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Genetic analysis of ancient DNA from a six-week-old infant found at an Interior Alaska archaeological site has revealed a previously unknown population of ancient people in North America.

The findings, published in the Jan. 3 edition of the journal Nature, represent a major shift in scientists’ theories about how humans populated North America. The researchers have named the new group “Ancient Beringians.”

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UNH Researchers Find Effects of Climate Change Could Accelerate By Mid-Century

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Environmental models used by researchers at the University of New Hampshire are showing that the effects of climate change could be much stronger by the middle of the 21st century, and a number of ecosystem and weather conditions could consistently decline even more in the future. If carbon dioxide emissions continue at the current rate, they report that scenarios of future conditions could not only lead to a significant decrease in snow days, but also an increase in the number of summer days over 90 degrees and a drastic decline in stream habitat with 40 percent not suitable for cold water fish.

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In Case You Missed It: NASA EPSCoR Publication 'Stimuli' 2016-2017

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Stimuli is a summary collection of college and university basic research and technology development reports impacting NASA's earth science, aviation, and human and robotic deep space exploration programs. This document addresses research which is relevant to NASA’s mission, and currently administered by the agency's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

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