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 and to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

KS NSF EPSCoR extends AMO Outreach to Middle School Students attending ESU's Summer Scholars Program

  This summer, Emporia State University’s (ESU) Summer Scholars Program visited the James R. Macdonald Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics Laboratory at Kansas State University (KSU), as part of an outreach extension effort funded by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures. The ESU Summer Scholars Program invites area middle school students to a 3-day STEM Program designed to provide hands-on activities and learning experiences to motivate students to pursue math and science careers.
Students touring one of the many laser labs
housed in the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory
 The program also takes students on field-trips where they can see STEM research and careers in action. Dr. Marvin Harrell and Dr. Betsy Yanik, from the ESU Department of Mathematics and Economics have headed up the program for the past 5 years, with the help of Dr. Jorge Ballester, ESU Department of Physical Sciences.
   This year, ten summer scholars studied exponential growth using a bucket and water and exponential decay using M&Ms. They also looked at sun spots, watched a 3-D printer work, tested the laws of motion and “why it’s important to not get caught up in experimental bias when conducting experiments.”
   Because of Dr. Yanik’s collaboration with Dr. Carlos Trajellos, former Associate Professor of Physics at KSU, who actively participated in the Si Se Puede Hacer Matematicas y Ciencias (Yes, I can do mathematics and science) program that Dr. Yanik sponsors in the Fall, she decided it would be interesting to take the Summer Scholars on a field-trip to the AMO J.R. Macdonald Lab. Dr. Yanik described experience saying, “While there the kids spoke with faculty and college students about their research involving lasers, fiber optics and high-speed photography.”  Students also visited some of the KSU engineering labs. According to Yanik, the students enjoyed the field-trip and the whole experience very much.

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.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Two Kansas EPSCoR Phase VI: Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy Researchers Receive NSF Award

  Kansas State University faculty members, Keith Hohn, the William H. Honstead Professor in Chemical Engineering, and Daniel Higgins, Professor and Department Head of Chemistry, who both worked on the Kansas EPSCoR Phase VI Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy initiative, have been awarded a National Science Foundation Chemical Catalysis Program grant of $450,000 over the next three years. Their proposed research, titled: SusChEM: Single Molecule Studies of Aldol Condensation on Heterogeneous Catalysts, will study the biomass-derived compound catalyst reactions of aldol condensation to better understand its catalyst properties. Converting biomass–derived compounds to renewable energy differs from the typical biomass extraction from hydrocarbon fuels, because, biomass–derived compounds are smaller and often require a catalytic reaction to build larger molecules. Hohn and Higgins will be observing light-emitting reactions occurring on various catalysts films at different locations and with different properties. By seeing which film produces the brightest light, they will be able to determine the type of catalytic sites are most active.  According to Hohn "… it will make clearer the importance of acid strength, base strength and proximity of acid and base sites on aldol condensation activity."

Information for this blog post was taken from the August 24, 2017 K-State News web story titled National Science Foundation grant funds closer look at catalytic processes written by Mary Rankin, 785-532-6715, mrankin@k-state.edu

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
   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.