EPSCoR People in the News...

Distinguished chemistry professor Kristin Bowman-James helping plot KU's path for future

.Kristin Bowman-James

Kansas University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Kristin Bowman-James is pictured on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, in her lab at Malott Hall. Bowman-James has been teaching at KU for 36 years, and her current work involves anions — negatively charged ions — and trying to build molecules that can build them selectively. Read more about it here...

Climate Change Research Experiences Prove Valuable for K-State, WSU Undergraduates

K-State participants in the 2011 Research Experience for Undergraduates Summer Academy (l to r): Chris Dolezal, Wichita; Dorothy Menefee, Spring Hill; Chuck Rice, K-State distinguished professor of agronomy and project leader; Amy Vu, Kansas City, Kansas; Matt DeCapo, Kansas City, Missouri. Read the press release here.

Science in Kansas, 150 years and Counting

Ad Astra Kansas, an education and outreach organization located in Hutchinson, is releasing a set of 150 trading cards featuring Kansas scientists, past and present, to celebrate 150 years of Kansas statehood.

Ad Astra is making the card templates available to K-12 students all over the state, and also the public. The first set of 12 cards, released in January, 2011, features two Kansas NSF EPSCoR scientists. And the KNE Project Director appears on a trading card released in March, 2011.

The KNE scientists (so far) honored with trading cards are:

KNE Research Featured in Prominent Physical Chemistry Journal

Research led by Francis D’Souza, professor of chemistry at Wichita State University, as part of the Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy initiative at Kansas NSF EPSCoR, is highlighted in the September, 2010 issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry. Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy is one of the research initiatives within the major KNE project Climate Change and Energy: Basic Science, Impacts and Mitigation. D’Souza’s research on single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) is exploring how they assist in light-energy-harvesting assemblies, for use in harnessing solar energy.

For more information on this research and D’Souza’s contributions to The Journal of Physical Chemistry, see http://pubs.acs.org/page/jpclcd/dsouza-video.html

KSU Ecological Genomicists Receive Accolades

Herman and Johnson Have Received $8 Million After EPSCoR Funds

Michael Herman, K-State geneticist, and Loretta Johnson, ecologist, in K-State's Division of Biology, led the genomics research for Kansas NSF EPSCoR from 2003 to 2006. Subsequently, Herman and Johnson received over $2 million from Kansas State University’s Targeted Excellence (TE) to advance the Ecological Genomics Institute (EGI).

Annual symposia, held since 2003, feature presentations from prominent researchers and provide a venue for presentation of new ideas and discoveries in this new field of scientific study. The December 18th issue of Science magazine featured the 7th Annual Symposium and highlighted research of three of the speakers, along with quotes from several attendees. A link to the article can be found on the Ecogen website, ecogen.ksu.edu.

Seed grant competitions, which began with EPSCoR funding, have generated on average a 3 to 1 return on funding. In August 2007, Herman was awarded $622,600 from the National Science Foundation for research on soil nematode responses. In September 2008, Johnson received $349,400 from USDA to research ecotypic variation and functional genetic responses of Big Bluestem under natural and reduced precipitation. Since 2005, total extramural funding totals $8,417,220. Much of this extramural funding can be attributed to the successful seed grant program that originated with EPSCoR funding and continued with funding from Targeted Excellence.

Johnson and Herman were also named in October, 2009, as two of the principal investigators on a $783,936 award from the U.S. Department of Education, for a program that will support a new graduate fellowship training program in the ecology, evolution, and genomics of changing environments.   More about Ecological Genomics....

Connecting Biofuels to the Classroom

$500,000 NSF award will provide research experiences for teachers

The Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC) at KU has received a $500,000 award from the National Science Foundation for its Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program.

The RET program was initially funded in 2008 with a seed grant from Kansas NSF EPSCoR, in hopes CEBC would then be able to compete nationally for a larger award. With the $500,000 award, the program will not only continue, it will expand to include eight teachers, including some from rural areas in eastern Kansas.

With the new award, RET will bring science teachers from middle schools, high schools and community colleges together to research renewable fuels, in projects that range from biomass production to fuel production and utilization. RET is partnering with the Transportation Research Institute at KU and also with educators at the Southeast Education Service Cenber in Greenbush, who will help the teachers develop lesson materials related to their research.

The first session of the expanded Research Experiences for Teachers, called “Connecting Biofuels to the Classroom” will be offered this summer, June 7 through July 20. Middle school, high school and community college science teachers are encouraged to apply. For more information, see https://rhodium.cebc.ku.edu/education/RET-2010.html

KSU EPSCoR scientist receives NSF Award

Dave Steward, associate professor of civil engineering at K-State, and his team of researchers have been awarded $1.5 from the National Science Foundation to study the Ogallala Aquifer and its sustainability.

Steward is also a researcher on ecoforecasting initiatives with Kansas NSF EPSCoR.

He has assembled an interdisciplinary team of KSU researchers for the Ogallala project, and they create tools to predict the consequences of water policy decisions. The Ogallala is one of the largest underground sources of fresh water in the world, but natural recharge cannot sustain current usage in many areas, even in the near future.

KSU EPSCoR scientists honored

Charles W. Rice, professor of soil microbiology, and Walter K. Dodds, professor of biology, were recently named distinguished professors at Kansas State University.

Rice is one of the lead investigators on the current Climate Change and Renewable Energy initiative at KNE. Dodds is the co-principal investigator on Oklahoma and Kansas: a Cybercommons and was also the co-principal investigator for Ecological Forecasting in the Central Plains.

Rice’s recent focus has been on soil and global climate change in agricultural and grassland ecosytems and soil carbon sequestration and its benefits. He served on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and was one of the scientists recognized when that work won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Rice also recently received two additional awards: the Irvin Youngberg Award for Applied Science, one of the Higuchi Awards at KU, and a Commerce Bank Distinguished Faculty Award.

Dodds work focuses on nutrient contaminants and the effects on species of stream drying and flooding. He co-authored a nitrogen runoff study which was published in Nature, in 2008.

He received the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award in 2008. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal “Freshwater Biology” and associate editor for several other journals.

KU EPSCoR researcher named to global committee

Leonard Krishtalka has been named chair of the science committee and a member of the executive committee of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

Krishtalka is director of the Biodiversity Institute at KU and is co-principal investigator for Oklahoma and Kansas: a Cybercommons, and he served as co-PI for Ecological Forecasting in the Great Plains.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility provides free access worldwide to biodiversity data. Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the organization represents 51 countries and 42 international organizations, and provides tools and training to members for analyzing the biodiversity data and to utilize the data to better inform environmental policymakers.