November 15, 2017
Funding Connection

From the desk of the VPR
This will be the final Research Weekly published before Thanksgiving. I would like to use this issue to share with the campus community those things for which I am thankful this year. 

Of course, as the VPR I am thankful for the hardworking teams I am privileged to lead. I’m also thankful for the growth in our research enterprise and the recognition that our faculty, students, and staff have received for outstanding accomplishments in scholarship. I’m thankful that we have paid close attention to safety in our research environments on campus, and that we’re working to infuse an ethos of safety in all we do. Finally, I'm thankful for the leadership we have on campus.

It was almost exactly one year ago that Interim President Richard Myers agreed to be named the 14th President of K-State following a national search. A non-traditional university president, Myers has brought a new perspective on the position and has proven to be an exceptional team leader and team builder. He expects us all to care for the K-State family members and to do great things.

Doing great things requires that we step out of our comfort zones. I heard Regina Dugan, a VP with Facebook, say recently, “The risk of failure is the price we pay for the privilege of making something great.” She’s leaving Facebook in January, but that’s not the point. 

The point is that risks are associated with the things we do every day , including exploring new ideas, creating new knowledge, or seeking to design that next “thing” that will excite the world; yet, we recognize that research is risky — sometimes the answers don’t come to us, the hypothesis fails at a point that we hadn’t anticipated, or our creation is not appreciated by our critics. We learn from each experience, pleasant or otherwise, and we Wildcats prevail. 

I am thankful to be at a state university that cares about its diverse family: students, faculty, and staff. Each member of this family brings unique perspectives based on her/his background, experiences, and level of education, and each family member is valued. Our family members contribute to learning, to creating new knowledge, and to engaging the communities in Kansas and around the world to advance society. For good and for bad, our freedom to explore any question or test any hypothesis without censure is risky; it’s scary. Nevertheless, it is that freedom that is the privilege and responsibility we share to make something great — to make our students, our community, and K-State great.

As you pause next week to reflect on those people or events in the past year that have formed you, challenged you, and made you feel uncomfortable, take a moment to be thoughtful and be thankful.  Without the risk of being uncomfortable, you would not have the opportunity to do great things.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Events and announcements
  • The Fulbright Scholar Program offers nearly 500 teaching, research, or combination awards in more than 125 countries. Hear an overview plus a panel of K-State Fulbright Scholar awardees on November 29 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Union 206. Find more information and register.

  • The Midwest Regional 3D Printing Symposium on Friday, February 16 at the University of Kansas Medical Center will explore utilizing 3D printing technologies. Educators, researchers, and healthcare professionals are invited to present and showcase how 3D printing has augmented their respective professions. Find more information and register.
2018 Research Showcase: Save the date!
Thanks to all who attended last week's Research Connections — we appreciated our more than 30 exhibitors and those who came to learn more about the work K-State colleagues are doing and the resources that are available to support researchers.

The 2018 Research Showcase is slated for May 16, 2018 at K-State Olathe. We hope you'll save the date! This event will:

  • Facilitate relationships between K-State researchers and industry;
  • Introduce industry representatives to the breadth of research at K-State; and
  • Help both researchers and industry understand the processes K-State has in place to facilitate research agreements.

More information and registration opportunities are coming soon, so stay tuned! Find the basics — including a video about the event — on our website.
Agency news and trending topics
The new   tax plan  introduced by House Republicans could have negative implications for universities, graduate st udents and those with student loans. Many grad students — especially in Ph.D. programs — receive tuition waivers in exchange for teaching classes or doing research. Under current law, that money isn't taxed as income. But the  new bill calls for those tuition waivers  to be counted as income and subjected to income taxes.

Despite declining revenues and criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. media outlets—even small ones—are still able to sway public discussion. That’s the conclusion of a 5-year study, which found that when news organizations ran a number of stories on controversial topics like water quality and climate change in close succession,  they significantly boosted public conversations about these topics —and even changed some people’s minds.

How big is the problem? Ironically, the issue of over-research has not been researched much. In a study published last month, scientists in South Africa analysed concerns about over-research at two sites of HIV-prevention studies. They found that the term ‘over-research’ is poorly defined and encompasses a range of concerns. For example, some use it to describe how other communities are being neglected in favour of one with a pre-established research structure or proximity to a university. This can lead to skewed data, and misconceptions about a particular phenomenon or place. Alternatively, the term could be used to describe a local community that bears the burden of research participation without sufficient reward, creating a sense of frustration that leads to dwindling participation. In biomedical studies, researchers sometimes worry that involvement in multiple clinical trials — and exposure to multiple medications — can increase the risk to participants and cloud results.

The NIH Office of Extramural Research publishes a blog that includes valuable resources on many topics. Recent items include:

Elephants and other large animals have a lower incidence of cancer than would be expected statistically, suggesting that they have evolved ways to protect themselves against the disease. A new study reveals how elephants do it: An old gene that was no longer functional was recycled from the vast “genome junkyard” to increase the sensitivity of elephant cells to DNA damage, enabling them to cull potentially cancerous cells early.

As digitally savvy scholars know, the conference hashtag is a staple of a well-orchestrated academic meet-up in 2017. But, as important as hashtags might be to academics with itchy fingers, there is no hashtag police or governing authority; people are free to use or abuse hashtags as they see fit. The American Historical Association, or AHA, and the Norwegian band a-ha, perhaps best known for its 1985 hit “Take On Me,” had to clarify a few hashtag-related matters on Twitter recently to help their followers avoid confusion.
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