News Archives: October, 2018

Principal Investigators and Institutions from Maine, Kansas, South Carolina and South Dakota Awarded NSF Research Traineeship Awards

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT) program recently awarded 17 projects, totaling $51 million, to develop and implement graduate education traineeship models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The awards will help train the next generation of scientific leaders to develop the skills necessary to tackle complex societal problems.

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New research from the University of Kansas suggests evolution might favor 'survival of the laziest'

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A new large-data study of fossil and extant bivalves and gastropods in the Atlantic Ocean suggests laziness might be a fruitful strategy for survival of individuals, species and even communities of species. The results have just been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by a research team based at the University of Kansas.

Looking at a period of roughly 5 million years from the mid-Pliocene to the present, the researchers analyzed 299 species’ metabolic rates — or, the amount of energy the organisms need to live their daily lives — and found higher metabolic rates were a reliable predictor of extinction likelihood.

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How Forests Improve Kids' Diets

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A first-of-its-kind global study shows that children in 27 developing countries have better nutrition--when they live near forests.

The results turn on its head the common assumption that improving nutrition in poorer countries requires clearing forests for more farmland--and, instead, suggest that forest conservation could be an important tool for aid agencies seeking to improve the nutrition of children.

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‘Abrupt thaw’ of permafrost beneath lakes could significantly affect climate change models

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Methane released by thawing permafrost from some Arctic lakes could significantly accelerate climate change, according to a new University of Alaska Fairbanks-led study.

The study, which was published Aug. 15 in the journal Nature Communications, focuses on the carbon released by thawing permafrost beneath thermokarst lakes. Such lakes develop when warming soil melts ground ice, causing the surface to collapse and form pools of water. Those pools accelerate permafrost thaw beneath the expanding lakes, providing food for microbes that produce the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

Lead author Katey Walter Anthony and her colleagues studied hundreds of thermokarst lakes in Alaska and Siberia during a 12-year period, measuring their growth and how much methane was bubbling to their surface. By combining field work results with remote-sensing data of lake changes during the past two years, they determined the “abrupt thaw” beneath such lakes is likely to release large amounts of permafrost carbon into the atmosphere this century. The lake activity could potentially double the release from terrestrial landscapes by the 2050s.

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Automated detection of focal epileptic seizures in a sentinel area of the human brain

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Patients with focal epilepsy that does not respond to medications badly need alternative treatments.

In a first-in-humans pilot study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have identified a sentinel area of the brain that may give an early warning before clinical seizure manifestations appear. They have also validated an algorithm that can automatically detect that early warning.

These two findings offer the possibility of squelching a focal epilepsy seizure — before the patient feels any symptoms — through neurostimulation of the sentinel area of the brain. This is somewhat akin to the way an implantable defibrillator in the heart can staunch heart arrhythmias before they injure the heart.

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URI chemistry professor develops new contaminant detection technique for blood thinner heparin

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In 2008, a contaminant eluded the quality safeguards in the pharmaceutical industry and infiltrated a large portion of the supply of the popular blood thinner heparin, sickening hundreds and killing about 100 in the U.S.

It took a team of researchers led by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to confirm the contaminant, a toxin structurally similar to heparin that was traced to a Chinese supplier. But detection of the impurity required “a tremendous effort by heavy hitters in the chemistry world,” said Jason Dwyer, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island.

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