News Archives: March, 2016

Two CHHS KRS faculty at WKU are awarded KBRIN-INBRE research funding aimed at improving metabolic health

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Dr. Rachel Tinius and Dr. Jill Maples both assistant professors in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport in the College of Health and Human Services, were recently awarded a Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN)-INBRE Investigator Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.  

The objective of the KBRIN-IDeA grant program is to provide support to promising junior investigators at Kentucky colleges and universities to establish a research program involving undergraduate students that is competitive for NIH funding. In addition to providing funds for research support, the program requires release time from teaching, training and mentoring in NIH proposal development, and the development of collaborative relationship with a senior scientist (mentor).

“Dr. Maples and Dr. Tinius are outstanding young researchers, and both are tremendous assets to the School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport,” stated Dr. Scott Lyons, director for the school.  “Their research is important and timely, and they are excellent at utilizing students to assist in all aspects of their scholarship. By acquiring this grant funding, they are benefiting not only themselves and their research teams, but also the entire School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport."  

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NM-INBRE grant supports student researchers at Northern

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Ten Northern students presented research at the annual NM-INBRE (New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) conference in Santa Fe last weekend. The students have all benefited in some way from the funding and opportunities provided by the NM-INBRE grant (a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant), which focuses on increasing students’ biomedical and biobehavioral research capacity.

“This is a great opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Mario Izaguirre-Sierra, Assistant Professor of Biology, “and the grant also gives us funding to send students to several other international scientific conferences throughout the United States each year.”

“Presenting research at conferences like the NM-INBRE helps me understand all of the concepts that I learned and didn't learn throughout my research,” said Sergio Cordova, a Northern student who presented research on spinal muscular atrophy in plants at the conference last weekend.

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EVENT: Damariscotta River focus of April 1 meeting

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The Damariscotta River: Understanding What Makes a Productive Estuary will be the topic of a April 1 meeting.  Students and faculty from the Darling Marine Center and Bigelow Labs, aquaculture industry partners, and the Damariscotta River Association, will conduct the event, according to a news release from Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.

Presenters will share oceanographic research ranging from riverbed composition mapping to water quality monitoring planned for 2016 in the Damariscotta River Estuary.

The focus will be research conducted under the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network project. This five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation, will help scientists explore how different types and scales of aquaculture fit into Maine’s multi-use working waterfront and the river ecosystem.

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Water and salt: They don't always mix well

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Wyoming is a rugged, dry state with weather patterns that seem to be adverse to growing plant varieties. The climate plays havoc on the flowers, trees and shrubs, not to mention garden vegetables.

High velocity wind and extreme temperatures definitely are a challenge to deal with, but often it is water availability and water quality that limits what we can grow. Sheridan receives 14.2 inches of precipitation on average per year. That is not enough water for thirsty plants without supplementing with irrigation.

Why is water so important for plants to grow, you might wonder. Water, first and foremost, is necessary for photosynthesis, the activity of making sugar from carbon dioxide that allows plants to grow and produce delicious fruits, seeds, leaves and roots. Water is also used in many other chemical reactions within the plant. Second, water is used to transport nutrients, minerals and hormones from the roots to the leaves or from leaves to fruit and flowers. Lastly, water provides the turgor pressure that allows plants to stand upright and orient their leaves to more effectively absorb sunlight.

When a plant is water stressed, one of the first symptoms is wilting. Wilting occurs when plants cannot take up enough water from the soil to maintain turgor pressure, and therefore they begin to lose their upright position. Leaves will curl inward to slow water loss. At this point, photosynthesis shuts down, inhibiting growth.

Plants become water stressed when there is not enough available water in the soil or when the air is hot and dry, preventing the plant from taking up water fast enough to replace the water that is lost through transpiration (evaporation of water from the plant’s leaves).

If plants remain under these stressful conditions long enough, they will first lose flowers and fruits, and then leaves until the plant finally perishes. If the plant is crispy, it is probably too late to save it.

Funding for this project comes from an EPSCoR grant through the University of Wyoming. 

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EVENT: This bud's for you: First 'Science Pub Night' to focus on forests

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Ever since the Willey Slide of 1826 (and probably long before that), weather has affected those trying to make a living in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. Farming. Maple sugaring. Logging. Skiing. The people of this area have had a special bond with the local environment.

Now, as science builds and the debate rages about climate change, a local series of talks is hoping to bring the dialogue into an informal setting.

The new series will explore the impact of climate change on local forests and will question humankind's effect on nature. Called "Science Pub Nights," the three-part series will be presented locally at Sea Dog Brewing Co. in North Conway, beginning March 31 with "Northeastern Forests and the Earth's Climate System."

Others will include "Forest Health and Invasive Pests" on April 14 and "Wildlife in the Changing World," April 28.

They are being hosted by the University of New Hampshire and Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, with Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and the Mount Washington Observatory as partners.

Also partnering with the effort is the U.S. Forest Service which operates the Hubbard Brook and Bartlett Experimental Forests.

The series is supported by the Northeastern States Research Cooperative and NH EPSCoR, a federal program designed to improve the research capacity of eligible states or regions, making them nationally competitive for future grants. Twenty-seven states are currently eligible to participate in the federal EPSCoR programs.

Science and a pint? Sounds like a winning combination for those who like their beer — and winters — cold. 

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Grant to help UOG cancer research go world class

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Pictured above, L-R, Dr. Rachael Leon Guerrero and Dr. Neal Palafox, co-principal investigators at the University of Guam. 

A continuing cancer research partnership between the University of Guam and University of Hawaii Cancer Center is facilitating the creation of a pipeline of local researchers focusing on cancer research, according to UOG President Robert Underwood.

The partnership recently received a $4.5 million fund infusion for five years. Following the assurance of funding support from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, the university recently hosted a series of meetings with a steering committee composed of leading cancer researchers in the country. The participants discussed the U54 Cancer Partnership between UOG and the UH and evaluated proposed cancer research projects. A U54 grant partnership involves specialized cooperative agreements for research and other purposes.

The partnership, according to Underwood, facilitated research networking opportunities. “We have some graduates from UOG who are now working in the National Institute of Health. It would not have been possible if it had not been for this grant. The reach is incredible because it’s like networking. So now that we have people working at NIH who are graduates of UOG, we have access to more programs and more resources,” Underwood said

“You will see that we are starting to grow exponentially in terms of our research capacity,” he added. However, in order to sustain this trajectory, Underwood said the university would have to increase its researchers and continue to plan research projects that pass muster for experts such as the visiting steering committee.

In an interview with the Post, Underwood said the U54 grant, the recent $6 million EPSCoR coastal ecosystems research grant award, and the creation of a pipeline of local people to become researchers point to the quick maturation of the university as a research institute.

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EVENT: NASA EPSCoR Technical Interchange Meeting

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Research faculty from universities in NASA EPSCoR jurisdictions are invited to attend a research collaboration event at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.  

Lead managers with knowledge of research performed in their laboratories and departments will be available during this event to provide collaboration information and answer questions regarding the specific 'areas of research.'  

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Working together, Rhode Islanders create EPSCoR success

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Before Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR, there was a group of individuals who envisioned what might be possible in the Ocean State with collaboration among scientists and shared research facilities.

The actual process took several iterations before meeting with complete success and a five-year, $20 million grant that brought together the state’s two research institutions--University of Rhode Island and Brown University--and six primarily undergraduate institutions--Bryant University, Community College of Rhode Island, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, and Salve Regina University--and later, Rhode Island School of Design.

The overarching theme of marine sciences constituted a natural fit for the small state with more than 400 miles of coastline, according to David Rand, who was among the early planners of RI EPSCoR. Researchers also needed genomics and proteomics capabilities, lab services that would enable and enhance investigation as well as keep and draw talent in the state.

Sitting back in his office chair, Rand contemplates RI EPSCoR today as the grant wraps up a sixth year.

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Alabama scientist says the moon tipped over

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Apparently our moon isn’t in right-way up, at least according to one Alabama scientist.

Dr. Richard Miller of the University of Alabama at Huntsville is part of a team of scientists that believes they discovered the moon flopped over on its side a few million years ago.  The team was originally looking for water on the moon.

Dr. Miller’s team did indeed find water around the moon’s north and south poles; but one of his colleagues, Dr. Matt Siegler of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, realized that the water at the poles was pointing in opposite directions.

Dr. Miller said this “antipodal distribution pattern” of water is “unexpected, since if the water is ‘recent’ it should be distributed uniformly around the poles.”

The scientists then set out to discover what made this distribution happen. According to Dr. Miller, the possibility that this just randomly happened was very unlikely.

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EVENT: Science Communication Workshops

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Scientists and engineers are essential for public communication of and engagement with science but may not be adequately prepared.  In respond to this need in science communications, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology provides resources for scientists and engineers, both online and through in-person workshops, to help researchers communicate more broadly with the public.  Source: AAAS

Presented by Wyoming EPSCoR, the workshop has two sessions, including a lunch seminar. 

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