Research Wire

The very latest Washington University research news

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8.20.19
Researchers in the laboratory of Meredith Jackrel, assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, discovered that proteins implicated in Ewing’s sarcoma and liposarcoma can be dissolved by protein disaggregases, a finding that could be used to combat disease. The new research is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Read more about the findings.


8.19.19
Eric Galburt, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the School of Medicine, received a four-year, nearly $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his research titled “Kinetic regulation of mycobacterial transcription.”


8.16.19
Young-Shin Jun, professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, has been awarded $449,194 from the National Science Foundation for her project “Nucleation of Manganese Oxides in the Presence of Reactive Halogen Species.”

In her research, she examines the formation of manganese oxide particles in saline water. Environmentally abundant, manganese oxides are important in removing contaminants from the environment. Their formation can be affected by human activities that have high salt concentrations, such as desalination and oil and gas recovery. However, the chemistry involved is poorly understood, including the role of halide ions (e.g., chloride and bromide) and their highly reactive halogen species.

This research quantitatively and qualitatively examines how saline water chemistry affects the formation of manganese oxides in environmental processes. The project also develops environmental chemistry outreach programs for underrepresented or economically disadvantaged K-12 students. This outreach both encourages the early involvement of high school and undergraduate students in research and improves university courses by incorporating research outcomes.


8.15.19
Krista Milich, assistant professor of biological anthropology in Arts & Sciences, received a $12,500 award from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund to support a project on red colobus monkeys in Uganda.


8.15.19
Sarah Baitzel, assistant professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences, received a $6,050 award from the Rust Family Foundation for a project titled “Andean vertical exchange after Tiwanaku (10-12th century AD): Investigation of subsistence, mobility, and social diversity in the Cabuza city of Los Batanes (southern Peru).”


8.14.19
Matt Kerr, professor of mathematics and statistics in Arts & Sciences, received a $42,000 grant from the Simons Foundation for a project titled “Asymptotic Hodge theory in geometry, physics, and arithmetic.”


8.7.19
Rajan Chakrabarty, assistant professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, received a $410,856 grant from the National Science Foundation for, as he describes it, “three weeks of intense wildfire-smoke science.”

Chakrabarty and his research group are participating in Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ), a large-scale investigation into the properties and consequences of emissions from large fires. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and various research groups, including more than 40 universities from the U.S. and abroad, are involved.

Chakrabarty’s research group has built specialty equipment from scratch. The equipment is traveling by van this month to Idaho, where researchers will use it to study in real time the smoke characteristics from ongoing wildfires. The data will help Chakrabarty’s lab understand the differences and similarities between experiments in the lab and conditions in the real world.


8.7.19
Michael Nowak, research professor of physics in Arts & Sciences, received a $44,887 grant from the Smithsonian Institution to support a project titled “Radial density profile and onset of clumping in the stellar wind of a O61a star.”


8.6.19
Richard A. Loomis, professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, received a $140,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in support of a project titled “Measuring the dynamics of excitons in 1D semiconductor quantum wires with quantum state resolution.”


8.5.19
Everything we do on the internet creates data, from sending email to looking up directions. With numerous high-profile data breaches over the past few years and new government regulations, both individuals and governments are becoming more concerned about who has access to their data and how they can protect it.

Ning Zhang, assistant professor of computer science at the McKelvey School of Engineering, is developing a novel user privacy protection framework that will give users full privacy control over their data. The framework, known as PrivacyGuard, will allow users to enforce that their data can only be used by programs they approve.

The work is funded by a four-year, collaborative, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.  Read more on the engineering website.


 

7.31.19
Philip Skemer, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, received a $167,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a collaborative research project titled “Theoretical and experimental investigation of grain damage and the formation of plate boundaries.”


7.31.19
Kimberly Parker, assistant professor of energy, environmental  and chemical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, received $110,000 from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for her proposal “Behavior of Enzymes at the Interfaces of Minerals and Non-Aqueous Liquids.” A primary scientific goal of Parker’s research group is to understand the behavior of biomacromolecules like nucleic acids and proteins in environmental and energy systems.


7.29.19
Jessica Wagenseil, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the McKelvey School of Engineering, will study how change in the structure of the aorta’s wall may contribute to progression of an aneurysm with a three-year, $300,000 Transformational Project Award from the American Heart Association.

Genetics and other factors may cause the aorta, the body’s largest artery, to widen or expand, leading to weakness in its walls. This weakness may lead to a thoracic aortic aneurysm, or a rupture causing extensive damage and bleeding. Read more on the engineering website.


7.29.19
Ari Stern, associate professor of mathematics and statistics in Arts & Sciences, received a $212,640 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Hybrid finite element methods for geometric partial differential equations.”


7.26.19
Several faculty members in Arts & Sciences have received new or renewal grants recently from NASA for their research. Among them are:

  • Bradley Jolliff, the Scott Rudolph Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, $539,932 from NASA/University of New Mexico to support his work with the University of New Mexico’s Consortium for the Advanced Analysis of Apollo Samples.
  • David Fike, professor of earth and planetary sciences, $70,338 from NASA’s Ames Research Center for a project titled “Abiotic and biological sulfate reduction in serpentinizing systems.”

7.24.19
Mayssa Mokalled, assistant professor of developmental biology at the School of Medicine, received a one-year, $40,000 grant from the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology for her project titled “Mechanisms of adult neurogenesis during spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish.”


7.23.19
Willem Dickhoff, professor of physics in Arts & Sciences, received a $330,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his work on Green’s functions and the nuclear many-body problem.


7.22.19
Jeffrey Miner, professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the School of Medicine, and Jonathan Barnes, assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciencees, received a total of $375,000 over three years in funding from the Children’s Discovery Institute Interdisciplinary Research Initiative for their project titled “Innovative Drug Delivery Strategies to Treat Pediatric Kidney Disease.” This research will help improve personalized treatment of pediatric kidney disease.


7.11.19
Andrew Malone, MBBCh, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $822,279 NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development grant for research titled “Single Cell Analysis of Kidney Transplant Antibody Mediated Rejection.” Read more on the Division of Nephrology’s website.


7.10.19
James Buckley, professor of physics in Arts & Sciences, received a $667,954 award from NASA for the development of a novel imaging calorimeter for gamma-ray and cosmic-ray studies.


7.5.19
Elizabeth S. Haswell, professor of biology, and Anders E. Carlsson, professor of physics, both in Arts & Sciences, received a $954,779 grant from the National Science Foundation for their project titled “Pollen: A model system for computational and experimental study of plant biomechanics at the cellular scale.”


6.28.19
In a systematic review of 21 peer-reviewed journal articles, Anne Claire Grammer, a Washington University in St. Louis PhD candidate in psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences, and co-authors aimed to determine if sexual and gender minority adolescents are at greater risk for overweight or obesity compared to cisgender, heterosexual youth.

The review, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, noted that overall, sexual and gender minority adolescents were at greater risk for overweight and obesity, though there were important subgroup differences. Read more about the findings.


6.26.19
Zoe Hawks, a university fellow in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences, received $25,000 from the Autism Science Foundation toward research on testing candidate cerebellar presymptomatic biomarkers for autism.


6.24.19
mySci elementary curriculum unit, “From Sun to Food,” has earned the highest award from Achieve, a national science curriculum rating organization, becoming the first K-5 unit in the nation to do so. MySci is led by Victoria May, executive director of the Institute for School Partnership and assistant dean in Arts & Sciences, and Jeanne Norris, who serves as curriculum coordinator.


6.14.19
Robert Motley Jr., a doctoral candidate at the Brown School and manager of the Center for Social Development’s Race and Opportunity Lab, has received a two-year $60,936 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and a $5,000 grant from the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation.

The funding is for his dissertation study, titled “Racism-Based Trauma, Emerging Adults, and Substance Abuse.” Read more on the center’s website.


6.11.19
Greg Knese, associate professor of mathematics and statistics in Arts & Sciences, received a $191,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project studying operator theory and stable polynomials. Operator theory is a broad and mature area of pure mathematics with close ties to the mathematics of quantum mechanics and control systems engineering.


6.7.19
An interdisciplinary research team at Washington University in St. Louis has been developing a low-cost, alternative method of preserving biological samples using nanotechnology — and it does not require refrigeration.

Srikanth Singamaneni, professor in the McKelvey School of Engineering, and Jeremiah Morrissey, research professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine, will validate their novel preservation method using biomarkers for kidney and prostate cancers with a three-year, $550,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Read more on the engineering website.


6.4.19
Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, professor of developmental biology at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his project titled “eNAMPT-mediated adipo-hypothalamic communication for NAD+ production and aging.”


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