Research Wire: August 2019

Tess Thompson, research assistant professor at the Brown School, has received a five-year, $728,000 grant from the American Cancer Society for a research project titled “Analyzing Outcomes for African American Breast Cancer Patients and Caregivers.”

Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, has received a five-year, $785,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of Mental Health for a project titled “Navigating Resource-Constrained Systems and Communities to Promote the Behavioral Health of Black Youth.” Sean Joe, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development and associate dean for faculty and research at the Brown School, is co-principal investigator.

Kristen Kroll, associate professor of developmental biology at the School of Medicine, has received a one-year, $150,000 grant from the Undiagnosed Diseases Network for her project titled “Using human pluripotent stem cell models to evaluate pathogenicity and define disease mechanisms for ZNF292 variant found in UDN373964.”

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 ChemistryRead more about the findings.

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.”

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.

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.

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).”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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