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Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below an to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The EPSCoR Partnership Between Kansas State University, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Arkansas State University Receives NSF EPSCoR RII Track-2 Award To Help Understand Connections Between Genes and Organisms

   National Science Foundation has made eight Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-2 awards. The intention of the RII Track 2 award as well as its investment strategy is to build national research strength through research collaborations across two or more EPSCoR jurisdictions. These awards establish regional partnerships with government, higher education and industry contributing to lasting improvements in EPSCoR states' research capacity and infrastructure.
   The 2017 RII Track 2 research awards focus on the genotype-to-phenotype relationship. Awarded projects will enhance the understanding of this relationship and its impact on improved food crop yields, human disease and risk predictions, and new drug therapies.
Picture borrowed from the
The NSF document:
10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments
https://goo.gl/taCyYo
   Kansas State University has partnered with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Arkansas State University to investigate the foundational knowledge necessary to improve rice and wheat crops yields in stressful environments. Through a multidisciplinary approach the project will explore how to improve crop resilience to high night time temperatures and make discoveries that can be translated into genetic and phenotypic markers for public and private breeding programs.
   

The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Kansas EPSCoR Researchers and Teachers work together to make AMO Physics Curricular Connections

  Kansas State University (KSU) hosted the 2017 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Teacher Workshop, Modeling the Unseen in the Physical Sciences on June 15-16. Twenty seven high school and middle school physics, chemistry and physical science teachers from across Kansas attended the two day workshop. This physics, chemistry and physical science teacher professional development experience was one of the Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures education and outreach initiatives. The goal of this year's workshop was to provide teachers with opportunities to learn modeling and 3 dimensional teaching strategies, understand and incorporate the Kansas Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into their lesson planning, and interact with some of the Kansas EPSCoR Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics scientists.
Dr. Chris Elles, Dr. Kevin Carnes, Dr. Lizette Burks, Earl Legleiter
   The workshop began with a brief welcome and an explanation of how lasers work from University of Kansas (KU) Associate Professor Chris Elles. The welcome was followed by tours of the James R. Macdonald AMO Physics Laboratory led by KSU Research Professor of Physics & Associate Director of Operations Dr. Kevin Carnes, and KSU Research Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Charles W. Fehrenbach. Carnes and Fehrenbach discussed the history of the equipment used in the laboratory as well as how the grant was using lasers to conduct the EPSCoR AMO experiments.
   Next, teachers worked with Dr. Lizette Burks, Kansas State Department of Education, Science Consultant who showed them how to use the NGSS to alter their teaching approach from having students learning about a phenomena to a more student directed figuring out a phenomena approach. During the afternoon session, Earl Legleiter, Science Consultant, demonstrated modeling strategies and provided a hands on lesson illustrating how to encourage students to create models and figure out phenomena. At the end of the day, Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education, Anshultz Professor of Education, and Professor of Physics at Fort Hays State University (FHSU), guided participants in a discussion to process the days activities and prepare for the following day's round table session with the researchers.
Dr. A. T.Le, Dr. Bret Flanders, Dr. Vinod Kumarappan,
Dr. Chris Elles, Dr. Kevin Carnes
   The morning of day two opened with small group meetings with grant researchers Dr. Kevin Carnes (KSU), Dr. Chris Elles (KU), Dr. Bret Flanders (KSU), Dr. A. T. Le (KSU) and Dr. Vinod Kumarappan (KSU).  Each researcher provided a brief explanation of their role in the grant, the experiments they were conducting, and how they used models in their work. Teachers spent the morning visiting with each researcher, asking questions and brainstorming curricular connections to the research. During the afternoon session, Amy Hammett, 2016 workshop participant and high school science teacher at Maize High School in Maize, KS, led a discussion on how to use models in AMO lesson planning and how to make connections between the research, the NGSS, and real world phenomena. The remainder of the afternoon was dedicated to teachers creating AMO lessons that will be shared with teachers across the state through the Kansas NSF EPSCoR Google Classroom platform.
Dr. Paul Adams, Amy Hammett,
and teachers writing AMO lessons
  As for the teachers' impressions of the two day event, one teacher commented, I discovered “World class opportunities are available in our students' back yard and much of what happens at the highest level of science relies a great deal on the foundations of science we teach.” And, as a result of attending the workshop, another teacher added, I now "feel empowered to bring this material into my classroom.”

Education and outreach funding for the physics teacher workshop was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kansas State EPSCoR physicist uses X-ray lasers to create molecular black hole

Artistic rendering of "molecular black hole"
courtesy of DESY/Science Communication Lab.
    Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track II physicist, Artem Rudenko, and his colleague, Daniel Rolles, both assistant professors of physics at Kansas State University (KSU), have successfully used short pulses of ultra-intense high-energy X-rays to create detailed images illustrating X-Ray interactions with and break ups of molecules.  Rudenko is a research team member on the current Track 2 NSF EPSCoR grant titled, Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures
    This discovery involved shooting iodomethane, CH3I, and iodobenzene, C6H5I molecules with an X-ray laser.  The X-ray laser used in the experiments is located at Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University and has an intensity of 100 quadrillion kilowatts per square centimeter.  This X-ray laser is understood to be the most powerful laser in the world.  According to Rudenko, "As this powerful X-ray light hits a molecule, the heaviest atom, the iodine, absorbs a few hundred times more X-rays than all the other atoms. Then, most of its electrons are stripped away, creating a large positive charge on the iodine." This positive charge pulls electrons from other atoms in the molecule creating a short-lived black hole. This stripping away process only takes a few femtoseconds (A femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second) and repeats the process until the molecule explodes. Unlike a real black hole in space, the molecular black hole allows the electrons to eventually escape.
   This research may help scientists better understand the damages from X-ray radiation; provide a tool to image biological particles, such as proteins and viruses, with high resolution; shed light on the charge and energy flow in highly energized molecules involved with solar energy conversion; and impact the field of radiation-driven chemistry.

For more information on this discovery go to K-State News  and the June 1 2017 Issue of Nature.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track II Award No. IIA-1430493 and was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Basic Energy Sciences Program 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kansas EPSCoR 2017 "Modeling the Unseen in the Physical Sciences" teachers share AMO lessons at KATS Camp

     The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) held its annual KATS Camp in Junction City, Kansas (KS) on April 21 - 23, 2017.  As a follow up activity to the 2016 KS EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop titled: Modeling the Unseen in the Physical SciencesKS NSF EPSCoR sponsored participants so they could attend the 2017 KATS Camp and network with other science teachers from around the state.
     During the 2016 summer KS EPSCoR workshop the invited middle and high school physics, chemistry and physical science teachers interacted with the KS NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures grant researchers: Chris Elles (KU), Ewe Thumm (KSU), AT Le (KSU) and Bret Flanders (KSU). Under this project team's guidance, the teachers made curricular connections to the grant's current research and created Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (AMO) lessons to teach to their students. These lessons specifically addressed the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices that related to AMO Physics. As part of the workshop follow-up, teachers attending the KATS Camp were offered the opportunity to present on their workshop experiences, the AMO lesson plans they created, and their students reactions after teaching their lessons. Of the participants who attended the camp, five decided to present during the Kansas NSF EPSCoR AMO lesson sharing session titled Linking Contemporary Research to NGSS. This session was chaired by Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education, and Professor of Education and Professor of Physics at Fort Hayes State University.  Adams has been a part of the KS NSF EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop planning team since its inception in 2015.
Tim Elsen, Molly Bovos, Kara Luce and Paul Adams
   During the KS NSF EPSCoR presentation, each teacher gave a short summary of what they learned at the workshop and then stationed themselves around the room to demonstrate their lessons. Audience members were encouraged to visit each station to learn how the workshop participants were teaching AMO topics in there classrooms. Wilbur Middle School science teacher and President Elect of KATS, Tim Elsen, discussed his lesson that introduced "the Electromagnetic Spectrum to middle school students by allowing them to 'discover' the infrared portion of the spectrum. Students recreate Herschel's infrared experiment in the classroom." Fellow workshop participant and physics teacher at Basehor-Linwood High School, Molly Bovos, presented a lesson on Modeling Laser Strength.  She explained "I worked on this lesson with my students and we found that there are many factors that contribute to the "strength" of the laser such as different types of light and radiation. We learned that strength could be described by frequency, energy, or power." Kansas physics teacher, Kara Luce from Holcomb High School, was attended the 2016 NE EPSCoR  Physics Teacher Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She discussed the history and current knowledge of electromagnetism as well as the usefulness of using demonstrations to illustrate its underlying physics concepts.
Pam Kraus
Pam Kraus, physics teacher at St. John's Military School said "I presented the lesson I designed at the EPSCoR workshop last summer. It was about using lasers to introduce the concept of electromagnetic radiation in preparation for teaching high school chemistry students about ER given off when excited electrons drop to lower energy levels."  She used different colored hand held lasers and gummy bears to demonstrate her topic. Adrianne Wedel, physics teacher at Newton High School, demonstrated her lesson on Modeling the Human Eye by showcasing cell phone and prism holograms.
Adrianne Wedel

   Ottawa High School's physics teacher and first time KATS participant, James Deane was an audience participant during the  KS EPSCoR presentations.  He commented on the session saying "I thought it was very informative. My fellow workshop attendees have put together some very polished activities." And he added, "If I had it to do over again, I would probably polish my workshop activity and present."
    As for the KATS Camp overall experience, Bovos, a first time participant, commented, "I gained so much by going to this conference and I think it is important for us to get together to revisit what we learned at the EPSCoR summer workshop."  And, Elsen emphasized, "I certainly hope that the EPSCoR summer workshop continues to promote attendance at KATS Kamp and offering the chance to present. This is a great way to promote networking and creative collaboration!"

Education and outreach funding for sponsoring Kansas physics teacher workshop participants' attendance to the  2017 KATS Camp was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Kansas NSF EPSCoR Director's discovery featured in the Department of Energy's Office of Science Highlights

Dr. Kristin Bowman-James
   The Department of Energy has featured Dr. Kristin Bowman-James' scientific research on their May 2, 2007 highlights page. Dr. Bowman-James is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas and the Director of Kansas NSF EPSCoR.  She and her colleagues: Dr. Jonathan L. Sessler, Chemistry Department, University of Texas, Austin; Dr. Bruce A. Moyer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Dr. Amar H. Flood, Chemistry Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, have designed molecules, called chelators, that positively impact energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.These strategically designed chelators, generated in this research will selectively separate ions on demand allowing more efficient processing and safe disposal of radioactive waste.  Specifics related to the highlight can be found on the DOE Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences highlight page titled Casting a Wide Net and on the In Depth tab of Newswise. 
Image courtesy of Bruce Moyer and Andy Sproles, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The image above illustrates the idea that specific ions can be captured using designed molecular chelators ranging from foldamers for chloride, tetraurea chelates for sulfate, strapped calizpyrroles for lithium nitrate, and calixcrowns for cesium.

Funding for these projects was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences: Jonathan Sessler (Grant No. DE-FG02-01ER15186), Bruce Moyer (Grant No. ERKCC08), Kristin Bowman-James (Grant No. DE-SC0010555), Amar Flood (Grant No. DE-FG02-09ER16068). Bruce Moyer acknowledges additional support for applied research from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kansas High School Women attend the 2017 Women In Science Conference at the University of Nebraska

    Four Kansas high school teachers and eight of their students traveled to Nebraska to participate in the 19th annual Women in Science Conference at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  The Kansas representatives were teachers, sophomores and juniors from Topeka High School in Topeka Kansas and from Free State and Lawrence High School in Lawrence Kansas. This opportunity was sponsored by the current NSF Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Track 2 grant titled “Collaborative Research: Imaging and controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures.” As part of the collaboration's education and outreach initiatives, the Nebraska Women in Science Conference invited Kansas teachers and students to participate.  The conference brings high school girls and their teachers to the University of Nebraska (UNL) campus for a two day science career exploration and networking opportunity. The format of the conference encourages students to “interact with career and academic professional women in science, meet current female science students and other high school girls who are interested in science, and discover countless professions as diverse as biologists, geologists, engineers, food scientists, computer scientists, and those in the medical fields.”
Kansas students touring St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
     The 2017 Women in Science Conference began with a hospital tour at the at the Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center on Friday, March 31, 2017, followed by a banquet featuring Dr. Terri Norton of the Nebraska Engineering Department. Saturday, April 1, 2017, was filled with hands-on activities and lab explorations at the Nebraska Union and the Beadle Center.
     The Kansas students' occupational interests ranged from careers in medicine, forensics, biochemistry and zoology.  Karla Gaines, science teacher from Topeka High School, said her students “loved the hospital tour, the session we attended on breaking bones, and the lab session in the afternoon.” She added “I thought the message of the Key note speaker was fantastic.”  Marci Leuschen, science teacher at Free State High School, said her students’ favorite parts of the conference were “the hands on photosynthesis and respiration lab,” and “The round robin forum where they spoke to scientists.” She also commented “the girls all came away from the conference energized about scientific research.  The car ride home they were talking about the women they met over the weekend and the stories they enjoyed. Shoot – the speakers had me convinced to quit my job and enroll at UNL to pursue a career in research science!” Both teachers indicated that the 2017 Women in Science Conference experience “really solidified their students’ interest in pursuing a career in science.”

Funding for this Collaborative Research Experience was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The Grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science. 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Kansas State University hosts 2017 Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Moledules and Nanostructures Symposium

  Over 100 physics and chemistry students and faculty attended the March 31, 2017 Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Moledules and Nanostructures Symposium at Kansas State University.
Top: Dr. Beth Montelone & Dr. Anthony Starace
Bottom: Dr. Paul Corkum

      The program opened with a welcome from Dr. Beth Montelone, Senior Associate Vice President for Research at Kansas State University (KSU), and was followed by Dr. Anthony Starace, co-principle investigator and the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Physics, AMOP Physics & Astronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), introducing the Plenary Speaker, from the Dr. Paul Corkum from the University of Ottawa and the National Research Council(NRC) of Canada.  Dr. Corkum engaged the audience and sparked interesting discussions with his talk titled Linking high harmonics from solids and gases.
From left to right: Dr. Chris Elles, Dr. Steve Cundiff,
Dr. Louis DeMarco, Dr. Mette Gaarde
   The morning session featured Kansas EPSCoR researcher, Dr. Chris Elles from the University of Kansas (KU), discussing Nonlinear photochromic switching in the plasmonic field of a nanoparticle array; as well as talks from visiting speakers: Dr. Steve Cundiff , University of Michigan, who discussed Coherent control of the exciton/biexciton system in a quantum dot ensemble; Dr. Lou DiMauro, from Ohio State University, who discussed Intense mid-infrared laser-cluster interactions; and Dr. Mette Gaarde, from Louisiana State University, who discussed High harmonic generation in solids: dynamics of multilevel adiabatic states spanning the band structure.
From left to right: Dr. Ken Knappenberger, Dr. Carlos Trallero-Herrero
Dr. George Gibson, Dr. Matthias Fuchs
   The Afternoon session opened with a presentation titled Mode-specific plasmonics examined using single-nanoparticle ultrafast imaging given by Dr. Ken Knappenberger of Florida State University and was followed by Kansas EPSCoR and KSU researcher Dr. Carlos Trallero-Herrero who discussed Control and measurement of attosecond pulses with two-color fields (1). The afternoon session concluded with talks from visiting professor Dr. George Gibson from the University of Connecticut who discussed Deep inner-orbital ionization of diatomic molecules by strong laser fields and Nebraska EPSCoR and UNL researcher Dr. Matthias Fuchs who discussed State-of-the-art and next-generation sources for ultrafast hyperspectral imaging.
   Dr. Itzik Ben-Itzhak, co-principle investigator and distinguished physics professor at Kansas State University made closing remarks and invited the audience to attend the poster session that featured over 35 posters from students and grant participants.








Funding for this Collaborative Research Experience was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The Grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.