NSF Undergraduate STEM Scholarships

Posted on November 27, 2006  Comments (1)

NSF Undergraduate Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM).

“This program makes grants to institutions of higher education to support scholarships for academically talented, financially needy students, enabling them to enter the workforce following completion of an associate, baccalaureate, or graduate level degree in science and engineering disciplines. Grantee institutions are responsible for selecting scholarship recipients, reporting demographic information about student scholars, and managing the S-STEM project at the institution.” Students apply directly to the school.

Related: July post on this program (applications are taken each semester) – More science and engineering fellowships and grants

Tree of Life

Posted on November 26, 2006  Comments (0)

Tree of Life (showing 3,000 species, based on rRNA sequences), from the University of Texas. Humans are shown in the upper left “you are here.” I must admit this graphic doesn’t quite work for me but I figure some people might like it.

NSF Engineering Education Program Grants

Posted on November 26, 2006  Comments (0)

Grants awarded by NSF for engineering education programs include (next applications due Aug 2007):

Extraordinary Women Engineers (start date Oct 2006) – “to encourage more academically prepared high school girls to consider engineering as an attractive option for post-secondary education and subsequent careers in order to increase the number of women who make up the engineering workforce.”

Colleges of Engineering as Learning Organizations (Sep 2006) – “Based on the framework developed by Senge the PI will work with engineering colleges and departments to develop a rubric that will allow them to self-reflect, make governance decisions that benefit the organization, the faculty, and the students and continuously improve.”

Service-Learning Integrated throughout a College of Engineering (Sep 2005) – “Service-learning is the integration of academic subject matter with service to the community in credit-bearing courses, with key elements including reciprocity, reflection, coaching, community voice in projects.”

Related: NSF Engineering Education GrantsEngineering Projects in Community ServiceInnovative Science and Engineering Higher EducationReforming Engineering Education by NAENSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 EducationNSF Provides $75.3 Million for 5 Engineering Research

More Nutritious Wheat

Posted on November 25, 2006  Comments (2)

A wheat gene, now present but inactive, could boost nutrition if it were active. Wheat’s lost gene helps nutrition

The gene occurs naturally in wheat, but has largely been silenced during the evolution of domestic varieties. Researchers found evidence that turning it back on could raise levels of the nutrients in wheat grains.

Writing in the journal Science, they suggest that new varieties with a fully functioning gene can be created through cross-breeding with wild wheat. “Wheat is one of the world’s major crops, providing approximately one-fifth of all calories consumed by humans,”

“This experiment confirmed that this single gene was responsible for all these changes.”

The researchers deduced that the reverse process – enhancing GPC-B1 activity – ought to produce plants which have higher levels of these nutrients in their grains and mature faster. The UC Davis team is already making such varieties, not by genetic engineering but through crossing domesticated wheat plants with wild relatives.

Related: Are Our Vegetables Less Nutritious?Norman Borlaug and other Scientist who Shaped our WorldWhere Bacteria Get Their Genes

Report on Use of Online Science Resources

Posted on November 25, 2006  Comments (1)

The Internet as a Resource for News and Information about Science (pdf) from the Pew Internet & American Life Project:

“40 million Americans rely on the internet as their primary source for news and information about science,” second to TV.

Another interesting piece of data: “59% of Americans have been to some sort of science museum in
the past year.” I find this unlikely but… That rises to79% for those that have visited a science website.

The respondents also reported extremely positives views of science, such as (see page 26-28):
To be a strong society, the United States needs to be competitive in science 39% strongly agree 50% agree 8% disagree 1% strongly disagree
Developments in science help make society better 31% 58% 8% 1%
Scientific research is essential to improving the quality of human lives 35% 56% 7% 1%
Science creates more problems than solutions for us and our planet 3% 19% 52% 19%

H5N1 Influenza Evolution and Spread

Posted on November 24, 2006  Comments (0)

H5N1 Influenza – Continuing Evolution and Spread from the New England Journal of Medicine:

The current H5N1 virus is apparently not well “fitted” to replication in humans, although the genetic makeup of a small proportion of humans supports attachment and replication of the virus, if not its transmission. The specific receptor for the current avian influenza virus ({alpha}2-3 sialic acid) is found deep in the respiratory tract of humans

Clearly, we must prepare for the possibility of an influenza pandemic. If H5N1 influenza achieves pandemic status in humans – and we have no way to know whether it will – the results could be catastrophic.

Related: Avian FluUW-Madison Scientist Solves Bird Flu PuzzlerBird Flu Resistant to Main Drug

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Posted on November 24, 2006  Comments (0)

The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) pays the fellow’s full tuition and required fees (not to include room and board). In addition, fellows receive a stipend for 12-month tenures. The stipend levels for each of the 12-month tenures are as follows:
Period First Year Second Year Third Year
Amount $30,500 $31,000 $31,500

From 2003 to 2006, 656 awards were granted out of 10,593 applications. Applicaitons must be submitted by January 8, 2007.

Awards provided to applicants who will pursue a doctoral degree in, or closely related to (see web site for full list):

* Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
* Chemical Engineering
* Computer and Computational Sciences
* Electrical Engineering
* Materials Science and Engineering
* Mathematics
* Mechanical Engineering
* Oceanography
* Physics

Related: How to Win a Graduate FellowshipSMART FellowshipsErasmus Mundus ScholarshipsNSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Using Viruses to Construct Electrodes and More

Posted on November 24, 2006  Comments (0)

She harnesses viruses to make things

Manufacturing was once the province of human hands, then of machines. Angela Belcher, professor of materials science and engineering and biological engineering at MIT, has pushed manufacturing in another, much smaller, direction: Her lab has genetically engineered viruses that can construct useful objects like electrodes and wires.

Her lab employed this method to form an electrode that can be used in a lithium ion battery like the rechargeable ones used in electronics. The result looks like an innocuous length of celluloid tape, the sort you could use to wrap a package.

“It’s self-assembled,” says Belcher. “The viruses make these materials at room temperature.” So there’s little pollution.

Belcher hopes to be making prototypes within the next two years. “Actual devices are five to 10 years off.”

Related: Webcasts including: Viruses as nanomachinesVirus-Assembled BatteriesWhat Are Viruses?Bacteria Sprout Conducting NanowiresBiological Molecular Motors

Engineered Art

Posted on November 23, 2006  Comments (2)

Strandbeest – “Kinetic Sculptures” by Theo Jansen. He creates mobile sculptures that walk with the wind.

More videos: Theo Jansen discusses the mechanics of this work at ArtFutura05video of another pieceBMW commercial

New Understanding of Human DNA

Posted on November 23, 2006  Comments (4)

Very interesting Genetic breakthrough that reveals the differences between humans (bozo website broke the link – poor usability):

The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome – the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual ” letters” of the genome.

It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.

Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or “book of life”, is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.

Fascinating information that I must admit I am still trying to grok.

The studies published today have found that instead of having just two copies of each gene – one from each parent – people can carry many copies, but just how many can vary between one person and the next.

The studies suggest variations in the number of copies of genes is normal and healthy. But the scientists also believe many diseases may be triggered by an abnormal loss or gain in the copies of some key genes.

It will be very interesting to see how this understanding develops.

Related: Humans show major DNA differencesWe’re more different than thought, genome map revealsOld Viruses Resurrected Through DNANational Geographic overview of human geneticsScientists crack 40-year-old DNA puzzleWhere Bacteria Get Their Genes

A Robot to Clean Your Room

Posted on November 22, 2006  Comments (2)

Robot learns to grasp everyday chores

Cleaning up a living room after a party is just one of four challenges the project has set out to have a robot tackle. The other three include fetching a person or object from an office upon verbal request, showing guests around a dynamic environment and assembling an IKEA bookshelf using multiple tools.

Developing a single robot that can solve all these problems takes a small army of about 30 students and 10 computer science professors—Gary Bradski, Dan Jurafsky, Oussama Khatib, Daphne Koller, Jean-Claude Latombe, Chris Manning, Ng, Nils Nilsson, Kenneth Salisbury and Sebastian Thrun.

Related: robotics related posts