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First Awardee Projects - 2010

Phylogenetic Research in the hyperdiverse leaf beetle family, Chrysomelidae (Coleoptera)

Caroline Chaboo, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, KU - The KNE First Award grant will support Dr. Chaboo in leading an international team, involving senior specialists from the USA and Germany to train two University of Kansas graduate students from South Korea and Taiwan and two undergraduate students from the USA and Peru, in research on the biology and evolution of leaf beetles. These colorful beetles have specific host plants and display many interesting behaviors; some are pests of food crops (e.g., rice) and ornamental plants, (e.g., orchids), but there are few global experts to address these biological and economic issues. The team will conduct field studies in Nicaragua and Peru and lab studies of morphology and molecules to produce several traditional and internet publications.


Christopher Depcik

Adaptive Lean NOx Trap Kinetics for Lean Phase Operation and Cost Savings

Christopher Depcik, Mechanical Engineering, KU - Chemical reactions in a Lean NOx Trap (LNT) are a function of the catalyst formulation, washcoat material and its age, causing an immeasurable number of kinetic possibilities. This research will enhance LNT modeling activities through adaptive global kinetics during its storage phase. Development of chemical kinetics will occur as a function of metal loading, size of the particles, dispersion, BET surface area and particle growth with aging. These fundamental properties will allow for better predictive capabilities maximizing the storage time, reducing the amount of precious metals on the surface while lowering device cost and its associated fuel penalty.


Gregory Houseman

Can spatial variability created by dispersal explain the accumulation of biodiversity?

Gregory Houseman, Biological Sciences, WSU - While ecologists have long puzzled over mechanisms that explain species coexistence, a larger problem exists: what explains the buildup of diversity over short time scales? This research will investigate whether spatially-variable dispersal processes generate aggregated species patterns that compensate for competitive exclusion and lead to accumulation of biodiversity. Recent theoretical developments suggest that spatial contact processes may be essential, but these models ignore species-environment feedbacks that may enhance heterogeneity and further accelerate the accumulation of species diversity. Understanding these spatial processes is particularly critical given altered climatic conditions and interruption of dispersal across human-fragmented landscapes.


Andrew Ivanov

Towards New Discoveries at the Energy Frontier

Andrew Ivanov, Physics, KSU - A major breakthrough in our understanding of the nature of fundamental particles is expected to come from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments. However, due to slower start of the LHC these potential great advancements are delayed. On the other hand, the Tevatron collider is continually providing more collisions data making the possibility of advancements in the particle physics from Tevatron very likely. This research will further explore the data at the Tevatron with a focus on the current observed discrepancies from theoretical predictions, and apply our expertise from the Tevatron to the first data analyses at LHC.


Dr. Preethika Kumar

Investigating and Evaluating the Effects of Relative Phase in Different Architectural Layouts of Qubits for Different Quantum Systems

Preethika Kumar, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, WSU - The aim of this research is to study the impact of qubit (quantum bit) free precessions on different architectural layouts of qubits. In designing methods for overcoming phases developed due to qubit precessions, both the extent of the problem and the nature of the proposed solutions depend significantly on the detail of the physical qubit realization, the relevant control capabilities, and architectural constraints. Therefore, a systematic study of how qubit precessions affect important quantum algorithms and error correcting schemes, in different architectural layouts will be significant. Since architectural layouts will be technology-specific, different physical quantum systems will be considered.


Tianshi Lu

Modeling and Algorithms of Multiphase Magnetohydrodynamics in Tokamaks

Tianshi Lu, Mathematics and Statistics, WSU - The purpose of this project is to develop integrated multiscale modeling and algorithms for simulations of multiphase magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) in magnetically confined plasmas. In particular, this research will concentrate on the fueling of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) through the injection of frozen deuterium-tritium pellets. The physical processes of the pellet ablation in tokamaks span decades of spatio-temporal scales. In the weakly conducting ablation cloud in the vicinity of the pellet, a low magnetic Reynolds number approximation can be applied, allowing us to solve a coupled hyperbolic-elliptic system of nonlinear PDEs (Partial Differential Equation). The expansion and grad-B drift of the ablation cloud in the tokamak will be computed by coupling these equations to a global resistive MHD model. New algorithms will enable the simulation of the striation instability in the ablation cloud. Other applications of the proposed algorithms include plasma disruption mitigation in tokamaks.


Gregory Rudnick

Isolating the Environmental Effects on the Evolution of Galaxies over Cosmic Time

Gregory Rudnick, Physics and Astronomy, KU - Despite decades of research, it is still not clear how the evolution of galaxies is affected by the places in which they live over cosmic time. A key problem has been a poor knowledge of the timescale over which the star formation rate of galaxies decreases when they enter a dense environment. The purpose of this proposal is to measure the timescale of star formation rate suppression for galaxies in the field, groups, and clusters in the distant universe. A fast timescale would indicate that the environment is especially effective and truncating star formation and a very slow timescale may indicate that environmental processes may play a distant secondary role to mass- dependent processes. This research will involve the analysis of existing high-quality spectra and their combination with an array of multi-wavelength data to constraint the recent star formation histories. Additional information will be gathered using follow-up observations from state-of-the-art telescopes.


Richard Todd

The mechanism of regulated nuclear export of the Aspergillus nidulans nitrogen transcription factor AreA

Richard Todd, Plant Pathology, KSU - Regulated localization of transcription factors to the cell nucleus has emerged as an important control of gene expression allowing rapid responses to environmental changes. AreA, the transcription activator of nitrogen metabolic gene expression in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans, displays regulated nuclear export in response to nutrient availability. This proposal will characterize the AreA nuclear export signal and identify by in vitro mutagenesis the key AreA residue(s) required for regulated nuclear export. We will conduct a genetic screen for mutants affected in novel regulators controlling AreA nuclear export and investigate the role of a candidate regulator in this process.


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